Craigslist Find – 1991 BMW M3 Convertible

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Somewhere in New Jersey, there’s a rare and mysterious 1991 BMW M3 Convertible looking for a new owner.

The owner has it listed at $48,000, which is indicative of just how rare this car is – only 786 E30 M3 Convertibles were produced worldwide, none of which were sold directly to the U.S – and how well maintained it is. According  to the listing, the owner imported this one from Europe in 2003 and it’s been DOT/EPA certified and has been living a well-maintained life in the Garden State and sheltered from any kind of aftermarket modifications. Of course, that’s just what the listing says…

Even though the photos aren’t in a great resolution, it’s clear that this car looks great on the outside. The 2.3-liter inline-four looks well-maintained and ready to propel the 2,800-pound German masterpiece in and out of whatever bend you steer it towards.

However, the wonders of the Internet have revealed that there may be more to this M3 than meets the eye – and not in the cool Transformers kind of way.

 

I discovered this listing while browsing Reddit in preparation for final exams, and from the get go many redditors were skeptical of the car’s authenticity. Some redditors even recognized this as the car that was infamously rebuilt from two wrecked E30s nearly a decade ago and has popped up in online auctions several times. In other words, this is likely a Frankenbimmer.

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When you do a Google search on the VIN posted in that Reddit thread, the first result is a Roadfly thread from 2003 that features a CARFAX report with quite a few important details missing, the first sign that the car you’re about to buy may not be what it seems. Then, several threads on S14.net (1, 2, and 3) also pop up to tell an even more troubling tale with theft reports, accusations of swapped VINs, and more. You know, fun stuff.

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This car seems to be pretty well known within the E30 community, but not for the right reasons. Not that you should ever take consumer advice from me, but buy something like this if all you care about is having a fun little car to play with and can live this it’s shady history (and in this case, the ridiculous price). But if you’re actually looking for a real, not shady at all E30 M3, look elsewhere.

It’s a shame really that something as rare as an E30 M3 Convertible was *allegedly* subject to this, but if you still happen to be interested, you can find the listing on Craigslist here. Just be very, very careful with your money.

Sources: Reddit, S14.net, Roadfly

10 Comments

  1. The stories of woe and intrigue are all about a red sedan, not a grey convertible. I'm searching through Roadfly trying to find it all.

    1. That is, the VINWBSAK0319MAE34545 mentioned on Reddit is a red sedan, that's on CL right now. Tough story, the guy that flew down from Spokane to Ft Lauderdale and bought it back in '03, even with all the red flags, and got shafted. He just wanted it too bad, and let his heart overrule his head.
      The convertible may be the real deal, but I would get the VIN and check it with BMW to see it it's real, then have a BMW dealer inspect it.

      1. Thanks for the info. It was a little confusing trying to track down a botched M3… seems to be a lot of them. The fact that everyone recognized this one and linked to those stories is what led me to believe it all referred to it. Then again if VIN swapping was involved… gaah.
        I'll keep searching for more about this too.
        edit: There are only four E30 M3 Converts that show up on BMW M Registry, and all are different than this one. http://www.bmwmregistry.com/models.php?id=22
        Could just be an error though.

  2. A frankenbuild can be a wonderful thing when it is represented as exactly what it is. The problems usually stem from a greedy owner wanting to get more for it than it is worth…but that often has nothing to do with the vehicle.

  3. I can't imagine dropping 48k on this even it was completely legit. Get a m coupe to drive *and* a non-m 'vert with $ left over for upgrades

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