Sold my 1996 M3 today. I got one last quick blast in it this morning before handing the keys over to the new owner.
Amazing car, that I hope to own another example of in the future..... perhaps a clean low miles 4 door. :-)
I'm fortunate enough to still have a 2002 330i sport sedan, which will do until the time is right for me to own another M car.
dan cDan<br><img src="http://www.dancurtis.net/m3green/m3_3s.jpg"><br><a href="http://www.dancurtis.net/m3green">1996 M3 Lux Coupe</a> - Boston Green / Modena
Ultimately, I liked the 1996 better than the 1995. Surprisingly, most of the reason was because my 1996 was a luxury package, and the seats are far more functional. If the vader seats were as good as they looked, they'd be one hell of a seat. Sadly, they do not adjust as far back or as far down to the floor pan as the luxury seats, nor do they have "functional headrests". Without a helmet, vader headrests do give you anything to lean back on. I was a vader seat "fan boy" before I owned a car with them.
Other differences..... My 1995 had occasionally ticky hydraulic lifters. Sometimes one or two would be loud and make the otherwise well running 3.0 liter sound like a sewing machine. Kind of embarrassing while going through a drive-thru. My 3.2 never did that. Ever.
The 1995 was better in that it set far less engine fault codes (not nearly as many codes to trip, particularly emissions related). Half as many oxygen sensors, and excemption from the "plug in" OBD2 emissions test.
I like that the 1996 M3 had "i-bus" CD changer wiring, which allowed my BMW CD43 in-dash CD player control the CD changer.
Performance wise, they were both equal footing. The 1995 didn't have as much around-town low-end that the 3.2 has, but the "peakier" power delivery made it feel a little more exciting to drive in the revs. I actually kind of preferred the flatter power delivery curve of the 3.2, but they both were incredibly fun in either flavor.
The staggered wheels of the 1996+ cars is a blessing and a curse. I liked the more neutral handling of the non-staggered 17x7.5's with 235/40-17 tires, but I did like having the larger 17x8.5 wheels on the rear. The best factory wheel setup on any year M3 is to use four of the 17x8.5 rear wheels, with 245/40-17's front and rear. Then you're rotatable, have more traction, and more neutral handling. (I did this with my 330i which also had the same sized staggered setup -- just but a second set of staggereds, and make a set of 17x7.5 for the winter, and 17x8.5 for summer... perfect!).
My advise to anyone deciding between a 1995 or 1996+ E36 M3 is to buy the car you like best. Whether it's based on the color combination, service records, or the test drive. I would not discriminate against either OBD1 or OBD2 version M3, and would gladly buy another 1995 M3..... especially if it had the luxury seats. ;-)
To those M3 owners.... go take your M3 out for a blast for me.
Dan<br><img src="http://www.dancurtis.net/m3green/m3_3s.jpg"><br><a href="http://www.dancurtis.net/m3green">1996 M3 Lux Coupe</a> - Boston Green / Modena
Come back and visit once in a while. We still get a post every week or so...