Words by Warren Madsen
This story starts with a congratulatory shout-out to the folks at a site we really like: Bring A Trailer (www.bringatrailer.com). Seeing as they're based locally and that most of the cars they feature are within a days drive of DWA headquarters, we'll have many long winded conversation that start with, "did you see that one car on Bring a Trailer today..." Their web site is a thermometer for whats hot and interesting in the world of semi-affordable classic and sporting cars, most of which are targeted (for better or worse) at our age group and interests: driving. We may hinge on the lower half of this demographic, in our mid-30's, which puts us right in a particular vehicles' crosshairs- the BMW M3, especially the rare first generation E30 M3. What was once a relatively under styled and somewhat overlooked effort of BMW's Motorsports division, particularly since every iteration since has upped the ante significantly, has now become a car the talking heads refer to as having a "cult following." Which really means that a few nut jobs or marque specialists have been singing their praises for years and urging people to scoop them up until, wouldn't you know it...they're rare. The numbers speak for themselves because, yes, they were rare- with only 4996 US models sold and with a short outlook on collectability in the period, many wound up ridden hard and put away very wet. Add to that expensive repairs, depreciating resale values and no prospect on restoration returns and you had a tricky car to value.
But back to BaT, which after many years of apparent success and development (they offer exclusive ad placement, vehicle storage and maintenance and other levels of advise and participation in "the hobby") have revamped their entire web site and started something very needed, a new auction format (http://bringatrailer.com/auctions/). It remains to be seen if eBay Motors will start to crumble but regardless, we applaud this development. And for their very first of what we believe is many auctions to come, they featured 3 cars- a Boss 302 Mustang, Afla Romeo GTV and a "pristine" BMW E30 in Alpine White, my favorite color. This M3 (http://bringatrailer.com/listing/1990-bmw-m3/) was well publicized and had been sorted by a few very savvy owners including an editor at Road & Track and BaT themselves. Full disclosure: I own and adore BMW E30's. My six cylinder coupe is not rare and it doesn't qualify as an interesting car yet. But for $5,000 you could do much worse. And when the alpenweiss 1990 M3 sold for $58,000 on Braing a Trailer it left us at DWA somewhat speechless. Not that we are unaware of it's rising status. Quite the opposite; we talk about their awesomeness often. That edgy 4-cylinder, boxed fender flares and balanced proportions make for a great combination and Haggerty values an excellent, late-model M3 at $65,000. But to see one truly hit it big...wow. So this brings us to the question- what would we do with $58,000? What interesting cars would we buy? To keep it reasonably coherent, Lane, Bryan and I decided to take it to the podcast and choose 5 cars totaling $58k. Here's what we "bought"