Record $255K E30 M3 is the ultimate can’t-drive-it machine

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1988 BMW M3 front three quarter
Bring a Trailer/onlyms

A Bring a Trailer auction for a 1988 BMW M3 has shattered the previous record for an E30. While the online auction had been ticking away more than a week, the furious, two-person bidding war that saw the price sail from $190K to the closing $250K took place over the last 20 minutes or so. Including Bring a Trailer’s commission, the final sale price will be $255,000, nearly double the car’s current #1-condition (Concours) value. That’s nearly $65,000 per box flare!

1988 BMW M3 rear three quarter
Bring a Trailer/onlyms

The previous record for a standard E30 M3 came at this year’s Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale sale, when a 1988 model from Paul Walker’s collection brought $165,000. The former record holder across all E30s, regardless of configuration, was this Sport Evo M3, which brought approximately $177,000 at the Silverstone Classic Sale in 2018 despite the 79,000 miles on its odometer.

This example, painted in Zinnoberrot—German for vermilion, which is red, in case you were wondering—with a tan leather interior has just over 8000 miles on its odometer. The rest of the car seems to match that low mileage. The interior is immaculate, the recently serviced engine starts up readily and purrs smoothly. There have been some subtle OEM+ upgrades, like the Sport Evolution spoiler and front splitter and upgraded BMW wheels, but the factory spoiler and wheels are also included in the sale, along with the original spare. (As pointed out by a BaT commenter, that spare presumably contains the original German air.)

No doubt, the price can be chalked up to this car’s fantastic condition and low mileage. Any buyer who simply wanted a driver could have spent much less for one with a few scratches and a seat with more wear and tear.

1988 BMW M3 interior
Bring a Trailer/onlyms

Any time an outrageous, record-setting price sends shockwaves through the collector community, enthusiasts tend to get anxious that other similar car will jump in price as well. Sellers may hope that higher prices for E30 M3s are now the norm, but we’ve got to temper their excitement with the reality that, like any single sale, the result comes down to two people who really wanted this particular car. If you’re in the market for a run-of-the-mill E30, this single sale shouldn’t trouble you.

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