Just imagine the bills that would pile up.
Building imaginary garages is every car enthusiasts favorite past time, (unless you have the cash to build an actual one), and we've recently come up with some pretty out there picks, filled with the most unreliable, but amazing cars that we could find, including an old Mercedes, Maserati, and a hand-built Rolls Royce. For our latest pretend car collection, we have selected the least expensive models that are currently for sale from BMW's legendary M division.
When we began our search we knew that we would probably find lots of convertible, automatic/SMG, and high mileage cars. However, we were shocked at many of the hidden gems that we found for less than $10,000. By far, the cheapest M car that you can buy (in the US) is the E36 M3. The M variant of the E36 3 Series that we got in the US, only had 240 horsepower. The European version had well over 300, but we digress. You can find sedan, coupe and convertible models all for under $10,000, although most of them have the five-speed automatic. Most of these cars had very high mileage, although we were particularly enamored with an impossibly low mileage 1998 convertible.
The car is being sold privately for $7,700, and reportadely only has 15,500 miles on it. Unfortunately, as an automatic convertible it's probably the least collectible E36 M3 out there, but if that mileage is real, it might be worth a look.
We knew that in addition to the E36 M3, we could also find a few E46 M3 models for under $10,000. Unfortunately, these cars come with a caveat. If you're buying a cheap E46 M3, chances are it's either a convertible, SMG, or both. We found an SMG 2003 coupe for $9,995, and a manual 2002 convertible for $7 less. Both cars are painted silver, but the convertible only has 88,972 miles compared to the coupe which has 141,205 miles. The manual E46 is highly desirable. For this price, you have to pick your poison between getting the jerky, more maintenance-prone SMG, or the heavier and slower convertible.
For under $10,000, the E36 and E46 M3 are pretty good value, but both pale in comparison to the E39 M5. The E39 came with a 4.9-liter V8 with 400 horsepower. A pristine, low-mileage example could go for as much as $100,000. However, at the other end of the spectrum, beat-up, high-mileage cars can be purchased for as low as $8,000. We found a 2000 M5 (the first year in the US), for a staggeringly low $7,555. Unfortunately, the car has 177,000 miles on the clock and in questionable condition. Still, the car certainly doesn't look like it's falling apart. We would be hesitant to buy such a complex car this cheap, but you could probably spend double and still get an E39 that has problems.