Welcome to Miami! Or at least, welcome to RM Sotheby’s 2024 Miami auction, which is arguably even better, right? Set to take place on March 1st and 2nd, this Floridian automotive extravaganza is brimming with seven-figure four-wheeled icons, including everything from a speed limit-shattering Bugatti Chiron, to a Pebble Beach concours-winning Mercedes 540 K Special Cabriolet. But when we see auction estimates beginning to look like telephone numbers, it’s difficult not to image the five-car garage you could create for the price of just one of these big ticket items, and for this sale in particular, we’ve concocted a quintet of BMW’s finest M3s, all of which could potentially be had for less than a million dollars. Take a look at our five hand-picked Bavarian beauties below!
1987 E30 BMW M3
We start with the oldest car on the list, a spectacular Henna Red 1987 M3 Coupe. This represents the genesis of the attainable M car; a true Group A homologation special designed to win trophies on the racetracks and hearts off of it. Powered by a nearly 200 horsepower Paul Rosche-designed, 2.3-litre double-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine connected to a dogleg manual gearbox, this is the M3 in its purest form. Amazingly, this German-delivery example has just two recorded owners since new and has covered a mere 48,054 kilometres since it rolled off the BMW production line. Adding to the appeal is the full black extended leather interior, which helps this Bimmer look like a million bucks, even if the estimate is only 150,000 to 200,000 dollars.
1988 E30 BMW M3 Evolution II
A year after our perfectly-vanilla E30 M3 above, this raucous Macau Blue M3 Evolution II emerged from Munich in the spring of 1988. Featuring a lighter, more powerful engine featuring new internals, Bosch fuel injection and a higher compression ratio, power bumped up to 220 horsepower, while revised aerodynamics and a lighter front bumper made the Evolution II an all-around improvement on the already honed Evolution I. This example is the 119th of only 501 Evolution IIs produced and boasts the Evolution II’s exclusive silver “M” cloth upholstery, which we would take over black leather any day of the week. Currently indicating fewer than 57,050 km, this Evolution II is ready to make your touring car dreams come true.
1989 E30 BMW M3 Convertible
While many would cringe at the idea of chopping the top off one of the finest handling cars BMW ever produced, thereby hampering its chassis rigidity, there’s no denying that the E30 M3’s box flares arguably look even more incredible in convertible form. This example is practically new and shows less than 3,980 km on the clock, which surely places it among the finest surviving examples of the 786 M3 Convertibles ever built. As for its appearance, the Macau Blue exterior seems to be in fabulous condition, as does the unblemished full black leather interior. The real issue here is having the willpower not to increase that incredibly low odometer reading!
1990 E30 BMW M3 Sport Evolution
Finally, we have reached the holy grail of E30 M3s, one of only 600 M3 Sport Evolutions ever to grace this earth. The Sport Evolution represents the pinnacle of the E30’s production, sharpened to razor-like levels of handling precision and poise thanks to BMW’s red-hot rivalry with Mercedes at the time. The Sport Evolution features an exclusive engine, the mighty 238-hp, 2.5-litre inline four-cylinder “S14B25 EVO 3”, but it wasn’t just the power plant that was improved for the E30 M3’s final iteration. In fact, the hood, roof, and door cards are the only standard E30-generation components on the Sport Evolution, with the rest of the bodywork being composite. Wider wheels, larger brakes, and a race-honed multi-link suspension system add to the Sport Evolution’s many gifts, while an adjustable front splitter and rear wing represent the cherry on top. Additionally, the splitter and wing featured three aero configurations, dubbed “Normal,” “Monza,” and “Nürburgring”; pretty evocative stuff. This UK-delivered example shows a mere 26,683 miles and comes equipped with creature comforts you might not expect, such as air conditioning, power windows, and a headlight cleaning system. BMW enthusiasts, go crazy.
1997 E36 BMW M3 Evolution
Our final M3 might not be an E30, but it is one of the very best E36s you could hope to come across. Introduced for the 1996 model year, the E36 M3 Evolution featured the then-new “S50 B32” 3.2-litre straight-six, which retained BMW M’s signature Double VANOS continuously variable valve timing system derived from the McLaren F1. While the E36 might look quite a bit more civilised than the E30, its lightweight pistons, graphite-coated con-rods, improved dual-mass flywheel, and twin pick-up sump hint at its true, unhinged nature. European-market cars, such as this example, were far more potent than their American siblings, and produced a mighty 317 horses. This example wears a classic combination of Estoril Blue over a luxurious extended black buffalo leather interior, making it easily the most daily-drivable car from our lineup today. With an estimate of between 80,000 and 100,000 dollars, it’s also by far the least expensive, and offers a wonderful alternative to the monstrously large modern-day M3s.