1988 BMW M3 EVO II E30

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1988 BMW M3 EVO II E30


The E30 M3 was the first purpose-built BMW to be engineered and assembled in-house by Motorsport Division - and while most first projects are more about dipping a tentative toe in the water than first-time victory, the fact that the E30 M3 ended its career as the most successful touring car of all time is proof positive that BMW’s advertising strapline ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ wasn’t the usual marketing tosh.

It might have lasted just six short years but what a period it was: launched onto an unsuspecting world in 1986, the M3 only made it onto public roads because the Group A regulations of the time insisted on 5,000 being built as proof that the cars in that class were genuine production models rather than highly-modified homologation specials.

And it had all the good stuff from the get go: 200bhp might not seem like much now, but back then the double-ton was The Holy Grail. It also had a beautifully balanced rear-wheel-drive chassis and was so visually understated as to make its performance all the more of a shock to an unsuspecting M3 virgin.

The M3’s four-cylinder ‘S14’ engine earned its place under the bonnet thanks to its weight and ability to rev more highly than the better-balanced and heavier six-cylinder. That it is a coarser engine than the inline-six was forgiven when you drove it; with a rev limit of 7,300rpm, the 2.3-litre, 16-valve engine might have been tractable enough to trundle to the shops but it still delivered enough of a punch as to enable even the clumsiest driver to make the most of that extraordinary chassis.

The BMW M3 Evolution 1 might have stuck with the standard car’s 200bhp engine but it features a revised cylinder head, mainly to help the tunability of the competition cars. Just 500 were built and only the front and rear spoilers differentiate them from the standard M3.

The Evolution II of March 1988 boasted 220bhp, a useful increase thanks to changes to the Bosch engine management system, new pistons, a lighter flywheel and a more efficient air intake tract. It also featured bigger wheels and tyres – 7.5×16” and 225/45ZR16 respectively – and a lower final drive ratio on the otherwise unaltered Getrag gearbox.

The bodywork received the attentions of the development team too, and you can spot one by its deeper front spoiler and air ducts in place of the standard M3’s front fog lights.

The rear spoiler was changed too but the thinner glass and lighter bumpers were less obvious. Three colours – Misano Red, Nogaro Silver, and Macau Blue – were offered, and a dashboard plaque was fitted so your passengers appreciated the fact that they were sitting in something special.

PATINA PICKS LINK: http://picks.getpatina.com/2017/06/bmw-e30-m3/

The Vehicle

With just two former UK keepers and three before that in Germany, this wonderful Evo II has been in the care of the vendor for the past twenty years having made its way here in the mid-nineties. He stumbled across it while searching for an E30 M3; incredibly, there wasn’t much of a premium at the time for an Evo, so he snapped it up and has been enjoying it ever since. If only we all had his insight, eh?

But then he’s no ordinary vendor because he’s the boss here, The Market’s grande fromage, if you will. So, in addition to insight, he knows a good ‘un when he sees it – and understands the importance of maintaining his cars correctly.

With a freshly rebuilt engine 3,000 miles ago, refurbished wheels, and some refreshing of the coachwork it’s fighting fit, looking wonderful and in search of someone who’s going to love it for the next two decades as much as he has.

On the Outside

The Macau Blue bodywork looks terrific, giving an understated Q-car look that would be impossible with the more usual Misano Red or Nogaro Silver. The shutlines and panel gaps are good, and the body is free of dents, scrapes and other damage.

The flanks are free of ripples and dinks too, and the paintwork is very good partly thanks to a recent front-end respray (to remove stonechips, nothing more…) that included a brand-new badge for the bonnet.

The M3 Evo II bodykit is all present and correct, and the seller even managed to track down a new OE front splitter while he was having the body fettled.

And, that unique bodywork, including the massively flared wheelarches and OTT boot spoiler, make it one of our very favourite 80’s saloons, especially when seen in profile.

Of course, that iconic look is helped immeasurably by the period split-rim BBS alloy jobbies. A genuine TUV-approved factory option, they even still have the original TUV certificate to prove it. Recently refurbished, the centres are painted to match the bodywork and they have even been fitted with new centre caps. As you’d expect, they are still in ‘as new’ condition.

Shod with new, matching Nankang tyres, our experience shows that matching tyres like this are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but do give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.

The sliding steel sunroof opens and closes as it should, and seals tightly.

Other than the usual small marks that a car of this picks up (one near the sunroof, a couple of minor blemishes on the rear spoiler, a mark on the nearside rear bumper and a parking dink above the left rear wheelarch being four of the more significant) problems seem to be limited to a couple of very small rust spots under the front windscreen rubber. They’re tiny, but will need catching sooner rather than later.

On the Inside

The Buffalo Silver half-leather interior is in just as good a condition as the exterior. Left-hand-drive and oozing with character and sporting credentials, the ‘M’ steering wheel and gearknob aren’t only present and correct but they’re in good shape, too.

The plaque on the centre console shows this is number 114 of 500, and the discreet grey check trim on the seats and door cards works wonderfully with the blue and red tricolour ‘M’ badge and colouring.

The seats are in good shape with minimal creasing to the leather edges. Still firm and supportive, only a little softness to the lower outer edge of the driver’s seat detracts from what is an otherwise remarkably well preserved interior.

This means the door cards, carpets, headlining and dashboard look far better than any car of this age has any right to. In need of nothing, they reinforce just how well designed and engineered BMWs used to be.

Other niceties are a sunblind for the rear window, upgraded speakers, and the roof-mounted computer that is still labelled in German.

The boot is home to a new battery and an alloy spare wheel, and lifting the carpets reveals only a rust-free floor.

Work to do? Well, give the EVO II’s rarity and value, we can see the new owner might want to track down an OE headunit to replace the aftermarket Kenwood.

There’s also a small mark on the carpet at the rear of the transmission tunnel but only the most fastidious of owners would bother worrying about that.

Oh, and the seller fitted a MPH-speedometer and set it to an approximately correct mileage too, which makes life easier, doesn’t it?


The stamped service history book shows the following regimen:

• 01.06.1988 when new

• 16.06.1988 at 1,800kms

• 11.10.1988 at 11,000kms

• 15.02.1990 at 41,298kms

• 26.04.1990 at 46,264kms

• 19.07.1990 at 51,250kms

• 23.01.1991 at 60,000kms

• Unreadable

• 15.10.1992 at 70,704kms

• 03.08.1992 at 88,003kms

• 29.03.1996 at unreadable

• 28.06.1996 at 102,673kms

• 15.01.2000 at 133,994kms

Moseley Motorsport rebuilt the engine in 2010 at 122,747 miles. The work was as comprehensive at their reputation suggests it would have been and the final bill came to well over £3,500. The engine had been showing minor signs of possible head gasket failure, but when taken apart, no fault was actually found.

The M3 has covered only around 3,000 miles since and we can report that it starts promptly, settles over into an even tickover, and drives brilliantly.

Despite being in storage for eight years, the vendor was careful to keep it in turn-key condition and put heat cycles through it on a regular basis.

The engine bay is clean and well ordered. The underside is not quite as pretty as the top with a light surface rust here and there, but its strong, has never needed any welding or other attention in the owner's period and looks to be original as you would expect for something garaged its whole term.

History Highlights

The M3’s MOT certificate expires in May 2021. As you can see from the online history, it passed with no advisory points and has been carefully stored since 2012 as part of the vendor’s collection – and it’s only covered around 20,000 miles in the two decades he has owned it.

It also comes with a number of expired MOT certificates plus some old invoices and bills to confirm the work that has been done to it over the years.

It also has its original owner’s handbook and book pack, the stamped service history booklet, and two keys.

Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of this and other paperwork to support our claim that this car has been maintained to a very good standard.

If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the Contact Seller button to arrange an appointment.

NB. We know that many of you will be limiting your social exposure over the coming days and weeks, so if you’d rather not come to see the car in person, please give us a call and we can shoot a personal video of the car honing in on any areas you’d like us to concentrate on.

Or, even better, why not contact us with your mobile number and we can set up a WhatsApp video call? You get to direct us in real-time, giving you a virtual personal viewing experience while maintaining the lockdown. We like to call it ‘The Market’s 2020 Vision’…

What We Think

The E30 M3 is a bona fide legend thanks to its stunning looks, relatively ease of maintenance - and the fact that it drives every bit as well as its reputation would have you believe.

As a result, it is in huge demand right now and prices have soared as a result.

And what holds true for the standard M3 is even more true for the Evolution models – and we have, sadly, long moved from the position the vendor found himself in years ago when they didn’t attract much of a premium, if at all.

Which, is a long-winded way of breaking the fact that this one should sell for somewhere between £50,000 and £70,000. That is a fair chunk of money, but then it’s a premium that you should get back when you sell it on.

Cars like this are always in demand and with interest rates as low as they are – and Brexit looming… - wouldn’t you rather have this in the garage than a row of noughts on a bank statement?

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car and AnyVan for transporting it.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: Abingdon
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 125,620
  • Chassis Number: WBSAK01012191700
  • Engine: 2300
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Colour: Macau Blue
  • Interior: Buffalo Silver Half-Leather

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