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Track Car Build: 1990 BMW M3

Some of the insanity around E30 M3 prices has begun to calm down, with less than perfect cars sticking around for longer periods of time 0r selling for far lower prices than a few years ago. Now, that’s not to say the days of a $10,000 E30 M3 are coming back – they’re not – but perhaps the true projects will become more attainable again. This wrecked 1990 M3 has been stripped of most of its M3-specific parts, but some desirable bits are still left. Find it here on eBay with a $6,995 Buy-It-Now.

The M3 was hit hard in the right rear, enough to wrinkle the rear quarter panel (and desirable M3-specific flared fender) and twist the trunk floor. The M3 trunk, with its iconic spoiler, is long gone, and the rear quarter has already what was presumably the most crinkled metal cut off of it. The seller notes that you’ll leave with both flared front fenders (though the driver’s side is not pictured), a good passenger side rear fender, and obviously the remnants of the passenger side rear. It looks like the only glass you’re getting is the windshield and the passenger side front.

The interior has been completely stripped of its handsome leather interior, which would have come with heavily-bolstered front buckets with horizontal stitching and a matching back seat. The carpet is gone, the door panels are missing, and the rear parcel shelf has even been yanked. There’s no dashboard, glass, or console to speak of either, and even the classic Motorsports three-spoke steering wheel has been swapped out with a base-model four-spoke steering wheel. Those parts are hardly difficult to source, however, as they were shared with multiple other BMW models of this generation of cars.

Of course, the drivetrain was probably the first major component to be stripped out of the car, and good motors tend to command north of $10K. This is not a car to rebuild to OEM spec; instead, I’ll break my own ban on engine swaps and recommend an S50 or S52 engine from an E36 M3 be swapped in, as those engines are cheap and plentiful. The bigger question to me is whether the rear fender and trunk floor can be fixed by an amateur bodyshop worker, or if a car with this much damage needs to be left in the hands of a competent restorer. What do you think – could some backyard hacks revive this battered E30 M3?


  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Canadian salvage title says it all for me. Parts car.

    Like 0
  2. Ian F

    The original 5-lug suspension components have also been swapped out for base 4×100 bits.
    IMHO, the asking price is too high for the amount of work and parts it would take to make this an M3 again.

    Like 1
  3. David Yando

    This car came off the line 7 after mine – glad mine is in better condition!

    Like 0
  4. Bultaco

    Since all the M3 parts but the front fenders are gone, you basically have a bent, stripped, E30 shell. For $6995? Since this thing will never be an M3 again, why not just use that $6995 to buy a nice E30 325i?

    Like 3
    • CJinSD

      This is a car for someone who wants to transfer the VIN plates to a replica built out of a 318i shell. It might make sense to fix this car if it were a race-winning 1958 Ferrari in the same condition.

      Like 0
  5. Steve R

    Why would someone try and turn this wreck into a “track car” as the header suggests? Unless you were constricted by rules, start with an inexpensive base model with a bad angine or interior, since you will either jettison or swap out both. Only a beginner that didn’t do their research would attempt to build this into a race car, it makes no financial sense. The best value is almost always to buy something that has previously been converted.

    Steve R

    Like 1
  6. Chebby Staff

    Ah, you must have written “trash car” and spellcheck changed it.

    Like 2
  7. Skippy

    A VIN swap would only make sense if the original title were not branded. I’m certain that this one is either already branded, or the actual title has already been transferred to another car and the seller just has part of a shell and an unusable title. (Note the VIN is not listed…) The asking price is insane. I can buy a nice e30, stock, or with a swapped engine for that price. Move the decimal to the left 2 digits and then pay somebody that much to take it away.

    Like 2
  8. Mountainwoodie

    And you folks think P cars prices are nuts. This seller is The Nut!

    Like 3

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