Expensive Roller: 1990 BMW M3 Shell

It’s still amazing to me to see how certain cars have gone from once-cheap projects to borderline unobtainable in the same sort of condition that would have rendered them trash a decade ago. The E30 chassis BMW M3 is the perfect example of this, with driver-quality cars trading hands for $50K or more, and well-preserved specimens knocking on six figures quite often. This rusty, stripped-down example has already been bid to over $18,000 here on eBay and I doubt the seller will have any trouble unloading it given the current market for this factory homologation model.

The drivetrain, of course, is long gone, and if you were smart enough to stick a few of these in a warehouse after a local racing team was done with them, you’re sitting pretty at the moment. That exact scenario undoubtedly happened, with M3s like this being used like any other track beater, losing their original drivetrain along the way and having another inline-six from a later car dropped in. The high-strung S14 was also used in older models like the BMW 2002 by enthusiasts looking to build the ultimate OEM-powered hot rod. Who knows what the story is here, but take note of the rust in the lower sills.

Now, the seller is explicit in stating that there’s no interior and no drivetrain, and that the battered M3 comes as pictured. The car does show an interior, however, with a dash, full carpeting, door panels, and even the original audio system still in place. Yes, the factory sport seats are long gone, replaced by the standard buckets from a lower-trim model, but it’d be worth clarifying with the seller whether he has stripped all of these parts since the photos were taken. If you were starting with the pieces shown here, it’d instantly become a more manageable project.

Despite the gaping hole in the engine bay, plenty of bidders are still angling for a chance to own this battered M3. Why? Well, there are a few good reasons, all of them pointing to how you can’t really go wrong with it. If you decide to fix the rust, drop in an S50 or S52 six-cylinder from a later M3, and put it up for sale, there’s a good chance you’ll make some money on it. Or, go all the way back to stock with a factory-correct S14, which won’t bring the same money as a numbers matching model, but will still find someone willing to pay over $40K for it, I’d estimate. And if you’ve just always wanted to own one but don’t have $50K? Well, your ship has come in.


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  1. alphasud Member

    This is one car I don’t understand why someone would pay that much for a rusty shell. I would rather have a euro E36 for the same money. I worked on one back in the 90’s and drove it after repairs were made. I was not impressed. I know it’s me and my opinion which counts for nothing but I was happier driving my Alfa Milano Verde over this. I know the Alfa wouldn’t compare in a track setting but how many people take them to complete on the track?

    Like 6
    • Superdessucke

      I’d seriously almost pay 18k just to be able to do an LS swap and annoy the BMW Purists. My near mint E36 M3, with a motor and 80k on the clock, would be lucky to bring this sum, as the Purists have deemed it unworthy. But this is still lower than I’d have thought this late into the auction. We’ll see what it goes for. I’ll bet over 20k for sure.

      Like 2
      • Pierre

        Sold, for 21K.

        Like 3
    • William

      Well, think about what certain Mopars go for. Speculation, nothing more. This isn’t love for the car, pure greed.

      Like 3
  2. djjerme


    Tells you everything you need to know about this shell.

    He pulled all the parts from a Pre-Facelift to make it look “complete” as a roller. Love the comfort seats… (sarc)

    Like 1
  3. Jack in RI

    Over Rated Junk
    My opinion

    Like 1

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