BaT Auction: 1988 BMW M3

This 1988 BMW M3 was exported from California to Japan in 1992, and in early 2020 the selling dealer acquired the car and imported it back to California. Now showing just under 27k miles, this M3 is finished in Diamond Black Metallic over a black leather interior, and its 2.3-liter S14 inline-four is paired with a five-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. Additional features include M3-specific bodywork, factory mesh wheels, air conditioning, and a JVC cassette player. Since the car’s arrival back in California, the tires, timing-chain tensioner, and rear camshaft gasket have been replaced. The wheels and the valve cover have been refinished, and the car recently passed a California emissions test. This E30 M3 is now offered with a clean CarJam Japanese history report, a clean Carfax report, and a clean California title.

1988 BMW M3

The exterior is finished in Diamantschwarz Metallic (181/9) and features an M3-specific front lip, side skirts, boxed fender flares, and rear wing. The selling dealer states that some panels were repainted under previous ownership; paint-meter readings are available in the photo gallery below.

1988 BMW M3

Factory 15″ mesh wheels were refinished in 2020 and subsequently were mounted with Continental EcoContact 6 tires.

1988 BMW M3

The cabin is trimmed in Black Bison leather (0203) complemented by lighter gray carpeting. Features include bolstered seats, a sunroof, air conditioning, and a JVC cassette player with a digital clock and tuner.

1988 BMW M3

The three-spoke steering wheel wears M Sport coloring and sits ahead of factory VDO instrumentation that includes a 160-mph speedometer and an 8k-rpm tachometer. The six-digit odometer shows just under 27k miles, approximately 100 of which have been added by the selling dealer.

1988 BMW M3

The 2.3-liter S14 inline-four was rated for 192 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque when new. The valve cover has been refinished and that the timing-chain tensioner, rear camshaft-plate gasket, alternator bushing, and valve-cover breather were replaced in May 2020 at Dino Motors in San Mateo, California. The car also passed a California emissions test in May 2020.

1988 BMW M3

Power is sent to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. The transmission output seal and flex disc have been replaced. A video of the underside can be viewed here, and additional photos are presented in the gallery below.

1988 BMW M3

The February 2020 Carfax report shows no accidents or other issues, with an export record listed from Los Angeles, California to Japan in November 1992. A clean CarJam Japanese history report from February 2020 is viewable in the gallery and shows that the car was registered in Matsumoto, Nagano area before it was auctioned in Chiba Prefecture by USS Tokyo Auctions in February 2020.

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The videos above show a walk-around tour as well as a start-up and in-car driving footage.

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