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e30 vs. M Coupe... decisions to make

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  • e30 vs. M Coupe... decisions to make

    first off this is my first post so hello to all!

    so here is the situation: I currently have an audi S4 and had really thought about selling if for some time to buy and M Coupe, however now with the resale values of my car in the toilet that just isnt an option, so instead i can do the following:

    1: save for a year or so and then find a decent M Coupe with higher miles and use it as a sunday/track car

    2: save for a year and find a nice (preferably somewhat modded, ie enthusiast owned and maintained e30) and use it mostly for the track only, and occationally on the street when its nice.

    Im interested more in the 'fun' aspect of the car. Ive driven m coupes before and they are a blast, pretty bulletproof etc but also close to twice the cost of an e30 (for a nice one) If any of you have driven both, what do you think of them? If I bought an e30 it would most likely get at least a rollbar if not a full cage (b/c i know a cage guy) and a lot of track mods like seats, stiff suspension, yada yada over the next few years. with the leftover money it *might* be possible to find a used truck as well which would come in handy for towing the car to the track. (not to mention everything else i move with borrowed cars b/c mine isnt big enough)

    so without rambling anymore, what do you all think? Id imagine that this board would be kind of biased towards the e30 but any insight is really appreciated...


    dreamin of an e30.... soon enough =)

  • #2
    E30 M3 or a regular E30?


    • #3
      oh sorry an M3
      dreamin of an e30.... soon enough =)


      • #4
        Well this is what I think... the M-Coupe is the E30 M3 owners next step when looking for another M car. It was made to perform. Its raw. It handles great and has power. It is expensive but you are getting a beefer S50/S52 engine, or the S54 engine, so you are getting more power. The cars weight is not too bad and part selection isn't bad either.

        The E30 M3 is another case. Most of us will say get a M3 and you will be very happy. The fun factor is in both the M coupe and the E30 M3, there is no argument there... What you have to decide is what is your type of sunday car / track car? The S4 = Turbo = Power... The E30 M3 compared to the S4 does not make a lot of power (stock) but remove the AFM, add cams, lighten the chassi, and you'll have a 200+rwhp beast that will handle like no tomorrow and eat up porsches at the track. I love the M coupe because it wasn't massed produced. ALSO if you are looking into coupes, you might want to find a nice 2.8L Coupe (which is rarer than the M-coupe)... it can be a fun car and with in your price range...

        Either way, when your buying a M car, it can be inexpensive but that depends on whos your mechanic and where you get your parts from.

        I would recommend you buying a E30 M3 that needs TLC, that means, some body work, high mileage, new interior and at the cost of $4-$7k... then you can build the car the way you like it. You can rebuild the high mile'd engine for under $5k (with some minor mods) and thats with you doing the work. If you have the resources...

        There are many options and views.... but choose something that is best for you.. I think either car will bring a smile to your face.... but a 250hp M3 (gutted,etc) can take a 240hp M-Coupe (of course it's not fair for me to compair a modded M3 (engine / suspension) to a stock (engine but modded suspension)...

        HTH and if this is confusing; I apologize.
        Last edited by Bavarian3; 05-21-2004, 10:27 AM.


        • #5
          If you're worried about price, don't think the e30 M3 will be a bargain. Once you do what you want to it to make it a good track car you will have spent a lot! Especially if you will want to make it as fast as your S4.

          Another thing to consider is the parts and modifications. There is a lot more you can do with the e30 M3 and a lot less you will need to do to the M coupe.
          "It is needless to say that self-propelling vehicles, like other machines, will never do as much for one who does not understand them as for one who does."


          • #6
            At the risk of getting blasted, I would recommend a the E30 M3 and if not, a nice Boxster. IMHO the M-coupe is not a worthy sucessor to the E30 M3. It has an uninspired engine (except for the final 321 HP version) with a truck-like powerband. It also handles like it has a hinge in the middle.

            Porsches are great cars - and definitely bred for the track - even the Boxster. Just look at the brakes. I have both a 993 and a E30 M3 and someday will add a Boxster "S". You absolutely cannot go wrong with a Porsche.

            2000 Porsche Boxster S - Daily Driver
            1995 Porsche 993
            2001 BMW 530iA Sport (hers)
            2004 Ford F-150 FX4
            2005 KTM 450EXC (More fun than all of the above)


            1988 BMW M3 2.5 EVOIII Replica
            1985 BMW M635CSI
            2001 BMW M3
            1988 BMW 325is (E30 M3 springs, steering, Konis, etc) - my favorite BMW - missed.


            • #7
              Originally posted by AlpineRunner
              If you're worried about price, don't think the e30 M3 will be a bargain. Once you do what you want to it to make it a good track car you will have spent a lot! Especially if you will want to make it as fast as your S4.

              Another thing to consider is the parts and modifications. There is a lot more you can do with the e30 M3 and a lot less you will need to do to the M coupe.
              People say the M coupe is not too heavy. Well, I dont consider 2900-3000lb too heavy either, but when you are comparing it to a 2750lb M3 that is unfair. Throw in some seats and take out all the useless shit you wont need at the track and the M3 is transformed. At a curb weight around 2450lb, with just a chip that 2.3 4 cylinder suddenly doesnt seem as undertorque'd.

              Once the car drops 300lbs the power/weight ratio is suddenly improved quite a bit. Just by dropping the AFM and making a couple other minor modifications the car will haul ass. Without touching anything in the head you can see 230hp. And remember, when your at the track thw powerband is all that matters mostly. With a chip and evo 2 lower airbox I was seeing 125 at the end of a straight where a mitsu EVO was seeing 132. With 230hp/2500lb you would be smoking an S4 in straight line track acceleration, hell even closer to stock curb weight.

              Costwise I dont see an E30 M3 thats capable of lapping quicker than an E46 M3 being more than an M coupe.

              The way I see it, if you want to get yourself into a car that has extremely high performance/fun potential at the track get an E30 M3. If you want something that will require less hassle, modification and maintenance wise, but still be tons of fun and perform well, get an M coupe. You may not be a person that would miss the performance/fun potential of an M3, but then again.......


              • #8
                thanks for the input,

                first the boxster is out of the question just because I have never really liked the way it looks, not to mention its still out of my price range. if I were going to buy a porsche id buy and older 70s pcar for cheap and have fun with that (still a possiblility)

                second, what the heck is an AFM?

                third, as far as the regular maintainance for the e30 goes, what would you say is the average amount that must be spent to keep an often tracked car running well every year? I suppose thats a big consideration b/c I know that the e30 will need work to keep it going strong, but I dont want to have a car that im constantly taking to the shop or towing home from the track b/c it keeps breaking (like my s4 for instance, NOT made for the track)

                perhaps finding a very high milage coupe would be a better idea if i was just taking it to the track, at least parts would be much easier to come by

                dammit why cant i just win the lottery and have both??
                dreamin of an e30.... soon enough =)


                • #9
                  AFM is an air flow meter. Quick rundown is that its oem way that S14 motor measures air entering manifold to determine how much fuel it needs. Its very restrictive you can probably imagine as its flapping door mechanism. Air must literally push a door open before it can enter the throttle bodies. Do a search on "AFM" or "alpha N" to find some interesting stuff. The current popular solution to the problem of the AFM is pretty dandy. May sway your purchasing decision right there.

                  I wont say much about maintenance as I havent owned my car for a year yet. I can say though that if the car has been kept up with over its life well(with an E30 M3, selecting the right car is pretty influencial to your experiences with the car.), it doesnt have many weak spots. If done properly the car should make it to the shop for certain things before they start causing problems. That is, unless you buy a problematic car you will not be at the shop after every time you drive the car. My car was in good shape, not the best. When I first got her there was a slight vacuum leak coming from the intake gasket. Kindof a bitch for me because its quite a bit of work, ie expensive, to fix. That was near a thousand dollars. Other than that the oil pressure (or was it the temp?) switch was leaking a bit, that needed replacing, nothing big. Then you got yer fluid changes and whatnot. She has 120k miles on her, but most all of whats commonly needed for high mileage E30 M3s was already taken care of. Ill let someone else discuss what these maintenances are.

                  You want an E30 M3. Make it happen. Do some searches, some browsing around here. You will find a lot of information about what E30 ownership involves. Might as well start familiarizing yourself with the technical aspects of the car as well, as you are already in search of one.

                  m coupe what? hehehkehkehkeh, jk.


                  • #10
                    put it this way lookaught. I've had an E30 M3 for about 4 years now. I love it as much as any car I've ever driven. I just drove an S54 M Coupe about a month ago. I've driven S52 M Coupes in the past. I want one.

                    But, I'm just not willing to sell the M3 and take out a loan for one....yet. Another couple of years I may go for it, but that's when the S54's come down in price a little bit. Plus, I just think it's like drivng a really fast version of an E30 M3. Everything else feels almost the same to me



                    • #11
                      Erm... Those S4's accelerate really well, handle great on the road in all kinds of weather.
                      So... A nice torquey saloon that is easy to hop up.

                      M Roadster.... Accelerates like the S4, but easy to write off in slippy road conditions and much less practical.
                      RWD though, and that is where the rewards come in... learning to drive it.

                      If you like playing stoplight GP, the E30M3 will frustrate you... It is in stock 2.3, languid in town, and has no aural entertainment....
                      .... Until you hit the track.... priceless.
                      This is probably irritating to those stock E30M3 owners that have never wrung it out on the track but you haven't lived with the car until you do.

                      I was priviledged to be able to chase down S4s at a track in Michigan with a near stock M3 where they could not maintain a high enough cornering speed to enjoy their straightline power, yet they would be gone in a blink if you played on the street.

                      The S4 and the Mcoupe have but one personality, The E30M3 has several.

                      It depends on practicality, whether you want instant torque, whether you can live with a car that has only some, but improve it to your taste, the use of the car, mechanical inclination, Tolerating a car that is now in its teens as opposed to a young low mileage machine.


                      • #12
                        Funny you should ask. I have owned both. My ultimate dream car (after the childhood dreams of first a 4x4 Jeep then a Corrodo) was an Mcoupe. I bought an Imola red with imola/black interior. I did every performance mod on the car possible and turned it into a complete track rat. It was and still is (in my mind and from the seat) the best handling Mcoupe I have ever driven.

                        The Mcoupe and e30M3 are COMPLETELY different beasts though. There is no possible way the Mcoupe can ever even scratch the surface of track driving satisfation compared to the M3. Trust me I have driven plenty of Mcoupe club race cars, I have raced for a week one of 3 IRC III Mcoupes (made by Dinan) in the world. It is simply dynamically not capable of achieving what the M3 does so naturally. It is a matter of physics. The M3 has a slightly longer wheel base and beyond that I can't honestly tell you what makes the M3 perform the way it does (compared to the Mcoupe).

                        If you are looking for a simple street car though then there is also no question in my mind. The Mcoupe is 100% the car you want of those two choices. It has so much low end torque it can be scary. The car will light up the back end and give you cramps in your hands from countersteering. It is a REAL drivers car though. It does nothing that well or naturally. It demands to be driven. If you are a driver though there is not much out there more rewarding than this car on the street. It reminds me of a lower hp Viper or yes I am going to say it Cobra. Both of those cars require constant attention under acceleration and the Mcoupe is the same way.

                        So, the decision is yours. Ultimate streeet hot rod (BMW speaking) or one of the best track performers ever made. The question is yours. The answer has to be made by you and you alone.

                        Robert M
                        (Can you tell I have been waiting for someone to ask me that question for a long long time now ;-)


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jmarch
                          It also handles like it has a hinge in the middle. HTH
                          I aggree whith this. On the track and M Coupe is much less forgiving than any othe BMW I have driven including the X5. You sit far back on the rear tire and it rotates in a weird way. Very squirilly on a downhill like turn 4-5-6 at Willow Springs. Really wants to step out on you.

                          Remember you are on the M3 board so.......

                          "Never lift"


                          • #14

                            BMW Engineered these cars for purpose.

                            So Far everyone is correct in there response.

                            E30 M3 S14- 200hp
                            curb weight :2750

                            E36 M-Coupe S50/52/54 240/?/315
                            curb weight:2980

                            Has anyone ever put the s54 into an e30?
                            1989 M3 cinnabar red/black
                            2001 540i 6 speed titanium silver/black


                            • #15
                              What a coincidence - I just wrote my impressions in the OT forum.

                              Robert W hit the nail on the head. I prefer the E30 M3, because it defines what I want in a sports car. It requires driver skill and involvement in all aspects and levels. Your definition of a sports car may be different. As a street car though, the torque is amazing in the MC. I was very disappointed in the ergonomics of the MC for my driving position. I couldn't quite get it right. Makes me realize how nice the E30 M3 seats are.

                              I wouldn't replace my M3 for an MC, but it would be an interesting addition.

                              The prices are now in the low $20's now.