Fewer than 130 of them were made for the US market.
Remember the BMW M3 CSL of the mid-2000s? That was a rhetorical question, of course, because the CSL is still considered by many to be the zenith of all M3s and one of the best BMWs ever built. But long before BMW decided to strip the E46 M3 of non-essentials in the pursuit of driving nirvana, it did the same with the E36 M3. It was called the M3 Lightweight and was introduced to the US market in 1995.
Only around 125 or so E36 M3 Lightweights were ever made, making them far rarer than the E46 CSL. To find one at all is, therefore, a stroke of luck. But to find one in top condition is almost impossible. That's why a Bring A Trailer listing of a 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight has caught our eye.
As was the case for all M3 Lightweights, this one is painted in Alpine White and features the brand's checkered-flag graphics on the front left and rear right of the coupe. The 17-inch BMW M wheels remain one of the M Division's best designs, and the Lightweight also has a black front splitter and a large rear wing. To achieve a weight-saving of 200 pounds over the regular M3, the Lightweight did without air conditioning, a radio, and a sunroof.
It also had less sound deadening, which isn't an issue when the 3.0-liter S50 six-cylinder engine is providing all the noise. Its 240-horsepower output is less than a base BMW 2 Series today, but the M3 sure sounds a lot better. The six-pot is paired to a five-speed manual gearbox and a limited-slip rear differential is fitted as well.
The M3 you see here was originally sold in Washington state and only swapped owners nearly two decades later, in 2013. The interior has held up well, too, with cloth seats and far fewer electronics to worry about than in a modern M4. With 93,000 miles on the clock, the Lightweight comes with a May 2020 Carfax report confirming ownership history. The car has no reports of any accidents or body damage.
Having sold for $33,900 back in 2014, the M3 Lightweight has dramatically appreciated in value, with a current bid sitting at $66,500. Then again, if you value a period where BMWs offered a much more unfiltered driving experience and were spoken about for their performance rather than their controversial styling, you can't do much better than this '95 M3 Lightweight.