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FS: Solid 88 M3, Great Price

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  • FS: Solid 88 M3, Great Price

    108,xxx miles, black over cardinal interior, clear title, $10,900

    Cutting to the Chase. This car is solid mechanically, but with some cosmetic issues. It could be a great daily driver, an enticing prospect for restoration, or a good foundation for a track and autocross car.

    Why I’m Selling. I have three E30 M3s. One is an 80,000 mile pristine example that I daily drove in fair weather, another is an 80,000 mile autocross car, and this one was my bad weather daily driver. Variety being the spice of life, I’ve now acquired an E36 M3 as a regular daily driver and retired the pristine car to occasional fun outings. With that, it’s time to find a new home for this E30.

    The Background. I’ve owned the car for 4 years. It’s been professionally maintained all through that period, first by MCB Autosport in Pittsburgh, PA, then Jim’s Fine Cars and Rio Rancho Imports in Albuquerque, NM. I bought the car from Enthusiast Auto in Cincinnati, OH, which went through the car thoroughly before listing it for sale. The summary of service records lists the work that Enthusiast Auto did, including a bushing refresh and a replacement steering rack. The car has been a reliable performer throughout the time I have owned it, always starting and going. I’ve put about 10,000 miles on the car in the past 4 years.
    There are over 100 photos of the car on Photobucket, at .

    I apologize for the random quality of the photos from beneath the car. I’m not normally a crawl-under-the-car guy, I had no lift, and the lighting was less than perfect. Other than that, they’re works of art. Seriously, the photos do give an overall sense of the car and illustrate most of the points that I address below.
    I knew that this car has some underbody rust when I bought it. I immediately had that repaired by TSR Automotive in Poland, OH. Except for an aftermarket radio, black-painted kidney grills, and a Turner chip, the car is stock. I have not autocrossed it or had it on the track.

    The car delivers the complete E30 M3 experience – delightful handling and an engine that truly comes alive above 3000 rpm.

    I debated whether to have some of the issues on this car fixed or to leave that to the next owner. I finally decided to let the new owner decide on next steps for this car. As is, it has been a solid and dependable daily driver, available at a great price. With attention to the cosmetic issues, it could be a very good example of a classic. With go-fast mods, it would be a blast on a track or autocross course. With an engine swap, the new owner would have a great stealthmobile and a valuable S14 lump to sell.

    The car’s interior is in decent shape. I just had the mechanicals of the front seats refreshed. The seat leather shows wear, including surface cracks and lightening in wear areas, but no holes other than two small holes in the rear seat leather. I’m guessing that the seats had a surface dye job at some point in the past, but most of that has come off after repeated applications of Lexol cleaner and conditioner. Personally, I like the result of dark red with lighter red in the wear areas. The carpets are in good shape, as are the door cards. See below on the exterior and dash.

    I kept the car in a garage from May through October, but drove it occasionally to keep it fresh. November through April, I parked it indoors on workdays and otherwise in my garage or driveway at home. The car comes with 15 inch Mille Miglia wheels and Blizzak tires. I will also throw in a set of original style BBS basketweave 15 inch wheels with Potenza RE750 tires. The basketweave wheels are straight and serviceable, but their finish is faded.

    As I have said, this car has been a solid daily driver. If I were to keep it, here are the issues that I would address:
    • The clear coat on the vertical surfaces of the car is definitely showing its age: that on the hood and roof of the car is crazed, and it is peeling on the trunk. I’m betting that the car was a seashore car at some point, give the state of the paint, and a few other clues such as fading on the rear parcel shelf fabric and fraying on a seam of the rear seat back. If I kept the car, I’d probably have a respray done on the hood and the trunk lid. It appears to me that the wing and bumpers were resprayed at some point. They are holding up well, although the rear bumper had a crack on its bottom lip and is missing a bolt cover, while the front bumper is missing a tow hook cover.
    • The rust situation:
    o As I said, there was rust on the car when I bought it. I had that professionally repaired right after I bought the car. On inspection, I can find the following rust spots:
    o There are two rust spots forming above the passenger side license plate light – one about 1 ½ inches long and the other ½ inch long.
    o There is a 4 ½ inch streak of surface rust forming on the passenger side of the hood power bulge.
    o There’s a 1 inch paint ding on the driver door that is beginning to show some surface rust.
    o There a small surface rust spot on the forward edge of the passenger rear wheel arch.
    o On the rear passenger side, the carrier tube for the wiring has rusted through.
    o There’s a 4 inch streak of surface rust in the front driver side fender well. The metal there is not soft.
    o There are pictures of all of these areas in the Photobucket album for the car.
    o Apart from these rust spots, there’s rust on other items that you would expect for a 22 year old car: exhaust pipes, brake calipers, cats, muffler, brake protection plates, springs, etc.
    • The windshield has two small cracks in it. I’d have those resin filled. They have been there since I bought the car, but I assumed that if I ever fixed them I’d immediately take a rock to the windshield. If I was using the car as a constant daily driver (and particularly in less cinder and gravel strewn roads than Pittsburgh’s), I’d get them fixed.
    • The backing on the original BMW floor mats is beginning to crumble. I’d replace them.
    • There’s a slow leak from the transmission housing. I decided to leave any fix to the buyer – who, for all I know, is buying the car intending to do an engine and transmission swap. The leak is a “spot on the garage floor” type of thing, and the transmission fluid level has been recently checked and is fine. The transmission shifts easily and smoothly – no grinding or synchro whine.
    • I’ve had the valve cover gasket recently replaced, but the there’s still an oil leak from the engine. As with the transmission fluid leak, it’s a “spot on the floor” sort of problem, but I’d eventually get it sorted. But again, I’m leaving that to the buyer.
    • The light illuminating the heater/air conditioner temperature control is not working.
    Here are the issues that I would live with:
    • The car has its original VIN tags on the hood, front fenders, trunk, and passenger side door but not on the driver’s side door. The keys that came with the car operate the driver’s side door lock but not the passenger side door or the trunk lock. The power locking system does operate from the driver’s door lock.
    • The dash has some fading and two small cracks. I’ve artfully covered the cracks with black duct tape, and used 303 Aerospace Protectant on the dash.
    • The top of the steering wheel has some fading and the top of the original shift knob is a bit ragged. I like the patina.
    • The cruise control brain is dead. So I don’t use cruise control.
    • The vinyl on the inside of the C pillars has split and pulled away from the pillars.
    • There’s a ding on the driver side C pillar and a dent on the roof above it.
    • A seam on the top of the rear seat leather is splitting.
    • Both passenger side marker lights are out. The bulb sockets are corroded and don’t make good electrical contact with the bulbs.
    • The radio antenna base snapped off from its housing. The radio still gets good reception, at least for the kind of around-town driving that I do in the car.
    • The passenger side rocker panel has gapped a bit from the body of the car. I don’t think that it’s in serious danger of coming off.
    • The overhead display shows false warnings for the brake lights. Three out of 4 E30 M3s ( and 1 out of 2 E36 M3s) that I have had did exactly the same thing with the brake light warning. I imagine that the low beam warning is a similar glitch.
    • The shop to which I most recently took the car noted that there was rust under the car. In fact, they shocked me by describing it as “severely rusted.” I immediately called the service writer, who clarified that they were referring to rusted bolts and pipes, not structural rust. The point apparently was that they wanted to budget additional time and expense to work on the rusted fittings. For example, they were concerned that they would have to cut some bolts to do the front brake work that I asked them to do. As it turned out, they did not have to cut any bolts to do that work. In the car’s defense, I have to point out that the two small cracks in the windshield became “windshield broken” in the shop’s description. I feel that I have to mention the shop’s comments in the spirit of fair disclosure, but (to put it mildly) I wasn’t impressed by their accuracy. Check out the Photobucket album for the car for the results of me grubbing around underneath it.
    • The shop also recommended replacement of the muffler and the pipes to the cat. In keeping with the theme of the shop’s comments, the written recommendation was “replace exhaust system.” When I asked the service writer whether they were talking about the whole system from the header on back, he clarified that they really meant that the muffler and the pipes from the cat to the muffler were rusty. I’d put this on the “when it becomes a real problem” list rather than the “immediate” list.
    Recent service on the car includes recommissioning the air conditioning (I didn’t need it in Pittsburgh but now I’m in Albuquerque), refreshing the mechanical bits of the front seats, replacement of a leaking valve cover gasket, new spark plugs, a new expansion tank, and new front brakes pads and rotors. I included a summary of the car’s service records at the end of this description.

    Bottom Line. Great car at the price, and one that will give the new owner plenty of options on where to take it.

    I’ve tried to describe the car as best I can, but it is a 22 year old car and the sale will be “as is, where is.” I’m happy to coordinate a pre-purchase inspection with any prospective buyer.

  • #2
    Are you interested in any trades?
    1988 BMW M3
    1986 Mercedes-Benz 190e 2.3-16 Cosworth
    1971 BMW 2800cs
    1953 Citroen Traction Avant 11b


    • #3
      Sorry, but I'm full up on cars at the moment, so, no, no trades.


      • #4


        • #5
          pm'd (you've got mail)


          • #6

            Any documentation on what rust was repaired? Or what has been replaced repaired in EA and your ownership?



            • #7
              I like the color combo! GLWS!


              • #8
                Thats a great price!
                1988 E30 M3 / 2003 E46 M3 (Alpine White / Black) M Power!


                • #9
                  You got PM, and I got cash. Ive been waiting for this color combo for ages.
                  1988 BMW M3 Alpine/Black
                  1988 BMW M3 DS/Grey
                  1989 BMW M3 Zinno/Tan
                  1989 BMW M3 Brilliant/Track
                  1990 BMW M3 Alpine/Black


                  • #10
                    I love the color combo.
                    88 M3 DS 89 M3 Zinno


                    • #11
                      Thanks to all who inquired, and the car is sold.


                      • #12
                        wow, not suprising at that price
                        2001 530i
                        1988 M3
                        1973 2002


                        • #13
                          Oh Man! i joined a few hours too late, in my own back yard even.