A guide to BMW E36 values and prices

We see it on Facebook a lot, things like ‘how much is my BMW E36 worth?’ or ‘my neighbour offered me this BMW E36 for £18,000 is it a good deal?’

The BMW E36 has been up and coming for some time now, but there isn’t a Glass’s guide for the humble drivers car of the 90’s. So, we thought we’d have a go. Here it is…

PROVISO: Before you start, bear in mind that the Good Shout Media team come from the classic car world, which is more Pebble Beach and Silverstone Auctions than Club Meets and Race Night… So yes, you might have one of the fastest, lowest, most cosmetically pleasing 328i’s on the internet, but this blog is about values when the car rolls across the auction block, not what your mate Dave from the pub will pay you or how many likes on Instagram you’ve got.

We’ve made this really simple.

It’s a BMW E36 bookshelf… All the good stuff is on shelf #1, and it gets progressively less interesting and desirable down at shelf #5.


Simply look at your car, read our descriptions, then work out which shelf (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) your car should be on.

1st Shelf Cars: Real M Power Cars

The first to go up in value are the M cars. M3 Coupes shot in value first because people realised they were fast and cheap so turned them into track cars, so good ones are thin on the ground. A good Coupe is now into 5 figures, with the Saloons and Cabriolets following behind. Although the later models had the 3.2 engine (with more power), the purists seem to prefer the early non-Evo cars with the 3.0 single vanos engine, but there doesn’t seem to be any solid facts around this, mere speculation


2nd Shelf Cars: Genuine ‘Sport’ Models in good condition / Good Manual 6 Cylinders

After the track car thing came the drift boys, who want anything with a bit of power and rear wheel drive. A 6 cylinder BMW is perfect for this so the drifters swept up all the manual Coupes, then consumed the saloons too. Estates are also falling prey to the drift bunch. So if you’re looking for a good 2.8 Manual Coupe that hasn’t been crashed at Silverstone or drifted into a lamp post in an Asda car park, you need to reach for the second shelf. Anything in good condition that’s badged as a Sport falls in this category.


3rd Shelf Cars: Good Low Mileage Automatic 6 Cylinders / High mileage manuals / 318is

Once the M cars and 2.8 Manuals have gone, that leaves the tidy 2.8 and 2.5 automatics. Coupes are the most desirable, followed by cabriolets and then estates then saloons. The coupe and cabriolet thing is interchangable… Sometimes everyone wants a cabrio, sometimes it’s a coupe. Low mileage (this means less than 100k) cars with full history are the ones to go for.

Now, despite the four cylinder engines being underpowered for the car, the ‘is’ badged version in Coupe form makes it into the third shelf. The more juicy 1.9 engine had 138bhp (or 140bhp depending who you speak to) which makes it far better than the standard 316i and 318i, which had between 98bhp and 114bhp, depending on who’s asking. The 318is came with full sports suspension and the Sport styling, making it more desirable. The 1.9 engine was the same lump used in the Z3, and can be a hoot when driving on your own… Pile the kids and luggage in with you and it’ll feel a tad underpowered.


4th Shelf Cars: 4 Cylinder Cars / High Mileage or Poor Condition 6 Cylinder Cars

Lastly there’s the 4 pot engines… totally underpowered for the car, gutless and slow. BUT if they’re done up in Sport or M Sport spec, or are well equipped (leather, good colour) they’re desirable and slightly more valuable.

5th Shelf Cars – All the other shite

Down on this shelf we have… all the other shite. 4 door saloons with 2.0 6 cylinder engines, high mileage and all cloth interior, coupes on crap wheels with 4 pot engines that don’t have the all important ‘is’ badge, most estates that aren’t 6 cylinders with full leather and good kit… anything that looks like it’s been hit by the Max Power brush, neglected council house projects, crashed drift or race cars, half built drift or race cars…

(It’s a BMW 318i, four pot, Barry Boys edition… Probably best to avoid)


7 thoughts on “A guide to BMW E36 values and prices

    1. goodshoutmedia Post author

      Although I appreciate the fact you clicked through and read the blog, it was never about the prices, what would be the point of that? it changes every week… It was a guide to models and spec and where you can expect to see them priced, the rest is for you to work out for yourself.


      1. goodshoutmedia Post author

        Yes, sorry it was a little bit click-baity… but it’s still one of the only E36 price guides online, most classic car publications aren’t even acknowledging the popularity of the e36…!


  1. Pingback: Four things we’ve learnt about track days | goodshoutmedia

  2. Kevin Harrison

    Very true comments at this present time. I won’t let go of my 328 convertible, not until about 5 years when everyone wakes up to how simple and good they are. Very good shout.


    1. goodshoutmedia Post author

      Thank Kevin, we think you’re spot on. Hang on to that car, we need a few more ‘bad apples’ to drop off the market and out of sight and those of us that are sitting on good ones will be in a good position.



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