Used buying guide: BMW M3 E30

Used buying guide: BMW M3 E30

Suspension: If there’s any wandering or vagueness of response, it’s likely that the suspension bushes have worn. Rear subframe bushes also wear, as do the ball joints and lower steering coupling. All are relatively inexpensive and straightforward to replace.

Engine: Listen out for a lumpy idle, which might point to air leaks in the inlet manifold blocks. All engines tend to sweat a bit of oil, but check the sump and head gaskets for serious leaks. 

Water leaks: Check around the floor for damp carpets in the footwells and boot, because the sunroof and rear light gaskets can allow water in. With the sunroof, it’s usually blocked drainage holes, but check the front scuttle drain holes while you’re at it.

Also worth knowing

The 2.3-litre (S14) engine is renowned for being tough and tunable. In fact, it shares its cast iron block with the M10 engine. Used in Formula 1, this unit is able to withstand 1400bhp with qualifying boost. The 2.3-litre was also given a new four-valve head derived from the M5’s S38 straight six. These four-pot M3s love to rev and, with a race tune, can produce in excess of 350bhp – without a turbo.

How much to spend

£60,000-£79,999: Early, standard-edition cars with upwards of 60,000 miles on the clock. Some high-mileage special-edition cars – or those not in pristine condition – can reside here as well. 

£80,000-£99,999: Mostly special-edition cars, such as Cecotto and Evolution 2 examples, although you can find some lower-mileage, excellent-condition standard M3s. Rare convertible examples also become available. 

£100,000-£124,999: Evolution 1 models, of which only 50 were produced, start to enter the fold. However, mileages can still be high.

£125,000-£175,000: More Evolution 1 models, as well as Sport Evolutions and the rarest of the rare Ravaglia Edition. The M3s with the lowest mileages and in the best conditions will feature in this price range.