Super Clean E36: 1998 BMW 323i – Sold?

by | Nov 2022 | Classifinds, Topless Thursday

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December 8, 2022, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

Certain models make it easy to go for the top-of-the-line model when seeking your preferred project. The BMW 3-Series E36 platform is a great example, as most everyone wants to grab the top-shelf M3 if they’re shopping for a 90’s 3-Series. It’s unfortunate because there are not only some excellent choices at the lower end of the spectrum, but they’re also much cheaper than a decent E36 M3. This 1998 BMW 323i convertible is one of the cleaner examples we can recall seeing, which is especially surprising given many of these lower-spec models weren’t held as collector cars. We spotted this example on Craigslist in October 2022 in Michigan for $6,500. Comparing that price against the model guide shows us that the seller is asking for very fair money, given the average sale price now is clocking in at $9,467:

When you stop seeking out the fastest or most expensive models, you can start to appreciate the lower-spec examples that are in outstanding condition. The tendency to pursue a car like the M3 often makes buyers sacrifice some maintenance history and/or cosmetic flaws to get the model with the right motor. We’ve all been there when we quickly realized that while we got the car with the right badge, we ignored the fact that there were far better quality examples offered for less money at the expense of the iconic badge that set the model in question apart from the masses. You can’t go wrong with the E36 chassis 3-Series, as all the inline-six engines were silky smooth and powerful enough to keep up with modern traffic. Even better? Parts supply is still excellent, and they occasionally show up at local wrecking yards with plenty of good spares to pillage.

The Men & Motors YouTube Channel features this test drive of the 1998 E36 BMW 3 Series:

The seller calls this E36 a survivor, a term that isn’t usually applied to relatively new vehicles. Of course, it’s hard for those of a certain age to believe an E36 is now an antique in many states. And given how many E36s were used and abused, finding a nice one that isn’t a pristine, $40,000 preservation-spec M3, has gotten incredibly hard to do. The seller of this 323i is just the third owner with 124,000 miles on the clock. It sports cheap aftermarket wheels that present well, but I’m more impressed by the condition of the paint and the interior, both of which appear to be in excellent shape. The E36 is not known for overly durable interior components, so seeing the door panels in such good nick is very encouraging. The drivetrain is not particularly needy, but I’d still want to see evidence of a replacement water pump with the preferred metal impeller over the cheap plastic one the factory installed. Summer may be over, but now’s a great time to buy a convertible at a discount.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“Survivor Car
Manual top, new top a couple of years old.
Mechanically sound, no coolant issues, no leaks.
Very well maintained its entire life. Third owner
Call/Text Only thanks

Base model options: is a clean, low-spec car sometimes a better option than a ratty top-shelf model?   


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