High Mileage Driver: 1988 BMW M3

This 1988 BMW M3 may have mileage that is approaching 300,000, but that’s not stopping bidders from pushing the bid total up to almost $30,000. While the rapid rise in value for the E30 chassis M3s has been well documented, it still amazes me how a car that traded hands for relatively short money just a few years ago is now selling for numbers that would have seemed laughable when an E30 M3 was 20 years old. This example has had one repaint since new and is surprisingly good condition for the miles; find it here on eBay and located in Virginia.

This M3 spent most of its life in Texas before heading to the mid-Atlantic region, and the seller emphasizes there is no rust to be found on the car. The M3 retains its original basketweave wheels and factory-correct bodykit, along with flared fenders, all specific to the M3. The respray was done in its original color and did not include the roof. The seller notes the presence of chips and cracks on the rear spoiler but not anywhere else on the body. Mileage clocks in at 261,000, a testament to how overbuilt these high-strung performance cars were.

The interior looks far better than you’d expect for this kind of mileage, and it actually doesn’t look like it’s been re-done recently, either – it’s still pleasingly weathered, and doesn’t give off the vibe that a freshly re-trimmed cabin does. The seats are correct to the car, too, as E30 M3s had horizontal stitch patterns going across the seat (as opposed to vertical stitching in the non-M cars.) A factory fire extinguisher appears to be mounted to the bottom of the seat, which is a popular U.S.-market upgrade and standard in overseas vehicles.

Now, there’s no such thing as a cheap E30 M3, and generally if you do find one, rest assured the tightly-wound S14 four-cylinder engine will likely need to be rebuilt. The seller claims this engine did get a rebuild at around 150,000 miles, but there’s no documentation included to support this. Despite the lack of evidence, the M3 is said to run well and the engine bay looks reasonably tidy. I’d still want to pull compression numbers before taking home such a high-mileage example, especially at the current price point – and see a thick folder of maintenance records, too.

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  1. Classic Steel

    Nice beamer but too rich for my taste .

    The bring more wealth to dealer repair center scares me . A friend had an oil change, headlight and tune years back for $1500 then recently paid three grand for a water pump 💰💰💰💰💰💰😳

    Good luck to new owners and i hope can
    do basic maintenance 👍


    In 1995 I bought a friends 325i and he turned around and bought an M3 like this. I believe he paid $12,000 for it at the time. E30’s are gold now. A very classic BMW design Nice examples STILL look nice today. The E30’s are not as dealer dependant as newer Beemers. Agree taking a car to a dealer for a battery change and paying $250 is crazy. Have a friend who just had it done. He is a former owner I might say.

    Reminds me around 2010 a Type R Integra was $4500. I thought it was too high. If I only paid attention.

    I also appreciate the efforts of Jeff and the other guys bringing unique newer gems among us now. Too bad the older crowd doesn’t get it that for the most part their time has passed.

  3. The one

    I’m sure like most of y’all like me, have owned about 70 cars over the last 50 years. Never had a beemer but, I just purchased for my wife our first Mercedes Benz. OMG! What an amazing car! E350.I have had caddies imperials rivieras, you name it, but none of those come even close to the ride this care provides. Happy wife? Happy life!

  4. Bryan Cohn

    Forget the compression test, you want a leak down test on a car with this mileage and no documentation to back up a engine rebuild 100,000 miles ago.

    These are still huge fun to drive on track but at this point they are getting rare enough in nice condition and worth enough to make them nothing but nice weather drivers. This one, with 261,000 miles could be the perfect M3 to own as you could use it on track days without worry and drive to Cars and Coffee and blow minds with your 260,000 mile M3.


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