We’ve probably made this claim before, but nostalgia for the “rad era” cars of the 1980s and 1990s has officially jumped the shark. An auction for a 1988 E30-generation BMW M3 on Bring a Trailer has just concluded, and the final price caused our hearts to skip a beat: it went for a gobsmacking $250,000.
That number, for what it's worth, is more than four times the starting MSRP for the closest 2020 BMW equivalent, the M2 Coupe.
For BMW purists, the E30 M3 is one of the best driver’s cars BMW ever produced. It started as a homologation car BMW had to build to meet the production requirements to race the E30 (which became a legend in multiple racing series). This example is about as pristine of an E30 M3 as one will ever find — well-maintained and sparingly used, with just 8,000 miles on the odometer.
That said, E30 M3s can be found for significantly less money. Only two have ever sold on BAT for more than $75,000. The previous-highest E30 auction on the site concluded at only $102,000.
And the version that just sold for a quarter-million bucks wasn’t even the best iteration of the E30. There are the sportier and rarer “Sport Evolution” editions that had 25 more horsepower. And while a high mileage sporty BMW has probably taken a beating, averaging 250 miles a year for 32 years isn’t ideal for an engine, either.
Indeed, a $250,000 outlay in vintage BMW world should be enough to afford a modest fleet of excellent condition cars and keep a BMW mechanic on retainer to keep them in fine fettle. If you’re spending that much on a vintage car, it should have undergone a painstaking frame-up, bolt-by-bolt restoration. $250K enough to score a super-lux Defender resto-mod and still score a nearly perfect E30 M3.
But maybe if you’re buying that 11th car to round out your collection, money is no object and a mint E30 BMW was the last item on your wish list...this extravagance could sort of make sense?