Classifieds Challenge: E36 Versus E36 (Because Race Car!)

Welcome back to Classifieds Challenge, where we pit two listings from the BMW CCA Classifieds head to head. This week we’ll be looking at two interpretations on the E36 chassis—and we want you to tell us which one you would choose.

For about a decade now, the E36 has taken over the E30’s old role as the Ultimate Racing Machine—the car you buy when you need a cheap racing platform that can handle all the abuse and bump-stop hits of track driving, and also maybe go for a weekend back-roads run when the time is right. There’s plenty of support from BMW CCA members and others in the community on how to build these cars for a life on the track, but with so many out there, why not buy a car that already has a race history?

In that vein, we’ve found two cars on the BMW CCA Classifieds for two different styles of racing. The first is this 1997 BMW 328is rallycross car, located in Atlanta, Georgia, and offered with 116,000 miles, a five-speed manual, limited-slip differential, and a full build sheet from Technica Motorsports, and maintenance records from its history as an SCCA Modified RWD competitor.

This car was build for rallycross, and the offroad-ready setup makes it somewhat unique for an E36. The car seems to be a solid entry-level competition vehicle, with plenty of photos on track and a couple on the street, meaning that you can actually drive this car to the (dirt) track, and live out all your Colin McRae fantasies. And the price for that entry isn’t bank-breaking, either; this 328is is asking just $7,000, making it significantly more affordable than our next entry.

In the world of online listings, there are plenty of cars with “track-car potential,” but only a few with logbooks, records, and a history of strong competition. This 1997 BMW M3 BMW CCA Club Racing car comes with all the latter items and more, featuring an extensive summary of its six-year father-and-son ownership.

The white E36 is built to BMW CCA Club Racing specs, with obvious items like a BimmerWorld wing, Wile Motorsport splitter, and AJ Hartman front canards, and also less obvious (but much more important) items like a fire-suppression system, in-date belts, and plenty of safety equipment. And really, who hasn’t wanted a car advertised with lap times on tracks like Palmer, Mosport, and more?

Best of all, all this history and experience can be yours for just $14,500. It’s just about double the asking price of the 328is rallycross E36, which means you could buy the rallycross 328is and a decent M3 street car for the price of one M3 race car.

With two strong contenders, which would you choose? Let us know in the comments down below, and if you have any suggestions of cars from the BMW CCA Classifieds, let us know—we just might feature them!—David Rose

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