BMW collector cars look good to younger enthusiasts
BMW’s popularity among younger enthusiasts is no secret—whether on the street, at track days, or even drift events, the Munich brand has long been an entry point for those who want a sporting German experience.
It makes sense. BMW’s factory presence at race tracks across the globe hasn’t wavered, and the sport sedan segment benchmarked the 3 Series for decades. Current design choices and penchant for introducing new SUVs aside, BMW’s identity remains strong among the enthusiast community. In fact, we’ve noted a few trends that suggest that collector BMWs are as healthy as they’ve ever been, and younger generations are leading the way.
For the first time, an enthusiast coming to Hagerty for a BMW quote is most likely to be a millennial. That generation’s share of quotes surpassed Gen X in 2022, and last January took over the top spot from the swiftly-receding share of boomer interest. What’s more, millennials are quoting BMWs at values higher than any other age group, meaning they are willing to pay up for a higher-quality example. Gen Z’s share of interest is on the rise as well, as are their quoted values. Curiously, though Gen X’s share of the overall collector market is on the rise, their share of BMW interest is slowly trending down.
The hits kept coming for BMW at the turn of the century, headlined by some truly memorable M-cars: the E46 M3 (2000-2006), Z3 M Roadster and M Coupe (1997-2002), and E39 M5 (1998-2003). You didn’t need the M badge to get your kicks, though—each of those chassis are dynamic in their own right and come in a swath of drivetrain and trim levels. These salad days are reflected in the quotes sought: the ’90s and ’00s dominate interest across generations.
Model trends of note
Of course, the M3 has a strong enthusiast following, and its future also looks secure. Aside from the original E30-generation M3, interest in BMW’s most famous model skews young. That’s particularly true for the V-8-powered E9X-generation M3 or the first-of-the-turbos F80: both secure 2/3rds of their quotes from enthusiasts born after 1980.
It’s not just outright performance people are after—interest in the throwback Z3 is on the rise. The 12-month count of Z3 quotes has increased 8% and has more than doubled in three years. Average quoted values for both are up 24% over the last two years, while Z3 values increased 45% on average in 2021 and had steady gains of 10% in 2022, with 3.0-liter cars leading the way.
BMW’s mid-size line is getting attention, too. Four of BMW’s top six gainers in 2022 were 5 Series cars. Perhaps most noteworthy is the generational spread—cars from the 1972 5 Series through the 2003 M5 made strides, reminding us that despite the trends tipping toward “new” classics, older models still have plenty of juice left in the tank.
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The BMW may look good but then reality hits. I see it often.
They buy the used BMW and it needs work. Well this ain’t the old Chevy. These cars are high cost to maintain and even higher cost to restore. Parts are expensive and not many junk yard have a selection of parts.
Even then the parts interchange is nothing like a small block Chevy.
Nothing is cheap anymore but to maintain a older BMW is a nightmare for many who buy the wrong one or if they lack the means to maintain it.
Add to this so few kids have the tools let alone the skill to change a tire or rebuild an engine.
While BMW is a fine car it has care and feeding few can support properly in this age class. I have seen the crash and burn much too often.
The mechanical parts are actually remarkably affordable and available. Trim and interior pieces are the difficult to find either reasonably or in good condition. I have an E24 and an E34. The trim pieces are a real value killer on the 635.
I always say that if the hood opens backwards; real BMW, forward; new generation.
Both have their quirks and strengths. The real value killer is an unqualified technician. You don’t just swap parts on the older ones. You install, adjust and follow procedure or they tend to develop new problems. Simple things like torquing the control arms correctly on alignment. Miss one amx they all suddenly fail within 500 miles. Other things such as a broken Speedometer can be technology challenging such as instead of buying a replacement speedometer, you dismantle the cluster and replace the gear.
Things like this are plentiful on earlier cars. Some of the V-8 cars would drop the oil pump. You could install a new pump and have the same problem of .you didn’t buy the updated washers.
The 90’s brought the great control module experiment and diagnosis was extremely difficult. It could be anything anywhere and only got worse when they revamped in 96. An E39 Touring with a leaky hatch for example could short out the A/C, driver control center, stability control and radio along with giving the alarm system a mind of its own even when you think you’ve disconnected it.
These are great cars but when buying one it’s probably more advisable to ask WHO serviced it rather than when it was serviced and pay accordingly.
You know interestingly enough I think the 135i coupe and convertible are going to be the next modern classic for BMW as well as the M2 F87 and maybe even the F22 M235i and M240i
The 1M Coupe is already a collectors item for it being a limited made model however the 135i is probably one of the last great non-M BMWs especially as something that feels like a sports car
Yes the F22 and F87 is greatly flawed however they have an experience like no other especially as something with a straight six, RWD-based platform, and even a 6-speed manual and they have aged so well too
As much as I really like the new M2, M3, and M4 as great as they can be, BMW just isn’t the same anymore especially with their recent creative decisions and current leadership they’re in
I am still a huge BMW fan as I was since childhood however only half of BMW’s new lineup is appealing at least for the enthusiasts and fans
I think the 2020 and newer (higher output engine) M550i will be a collector as as I understand 2024 will be the last year for the twin turbo Hot V8. It’s also a great sleeper as it is just a clean looking 4 door sedan-albeit a luxury ride that handles like a sportscar and is scary fast!
My 1997 Z3 2.8 was owned by adults, maintained by adults, and has been virtually trouble free in the 14 years I’ve had it. The online babble about people trying to find the cheapest parts on eBay or Amazon is what will kill the ownership experience. Trouble is that kids can afford to buy these cars but can’t or won’t pay to maintain them properly. When the day comes to sell mine, I’ll likely hold out for a mature buyer.
I find that BMW’s have a lot of love in the enthusiast section. My generation likes The E30’s onward for the most part. The latest generations have no appeal to me.
As a recently retired tilt’n’load tow tow truck operator , I can truthfully say the # 1 vehicle I towed during my 23 years of service ,was the 3 series. To be fair, they were usually owned by a younger male and had been driven hard as per the stereotype. I did have several occasions where a brand new car had total power failure the day of purchase once the new owner had left the dealership. My history with this brand left me never planning to own one .