If you watched last week’s coverage of the 2020 Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, then you understand why BMW enthusiasts were so fixated on the block. In early October, Barrett-Jackson reeled us in with the announcement that 21 vehicles from late Fast and Furious star Paul Walker’s collection were to be auctioned off—eight of which were remarkably pristine BMWs.
Walker’s popularity among the younger generation of car enthusiasts, along with his posthumous cult-like following, made it clear that the cars would exceed average market value—that was a given. What wasn’t as obvious, however, was their potential to redefine it altogether.
If you’re a car collector yourself, or simply fancy a casual browse of the classifieds before bed, chances are that you’ve noticed the exponential appreciation of the 125 E36 M3 Lightweight models over the years. The BMWs of Walker’s prized collection included one motorcycle and seven M3s—five of which were 1995 E36 M3 LTWs, a significant portion of the 125 in existence. These stripped-down, spoiler-affixed, tri-color-livery-clad, limited-edition E36 M3s were built as homologated race cars first and foremost, hence the 282-pound weight reduction and bare-bones specification. It was this pure, unadulterated allure and charm that gave the LTW its legendary status, and today the most pristine examples demand hefty valuations.
While we all could have guessed ballpark six-figure hammer prices for Walker’s BMW fleet, it was more arduous to fathom the level of ferocity with which purists offered up their money in the form of bids. Each E36 M3 LTW sold for a minimum of $220,000 dollars, with one low-mileage example reaching a wallet-crushing $385,000. The new record-holding E36 M3 LTW had just over 4,600 original miles on its odometer at the time—that’s 4,500 more than a 100-mile example that failed to sell on Bring a Trailer a few years back.
The other two BMWs, a 1991 E30 M3 and 1988 E30 M3, also scored big, selling for $220,000 and $165,000 respectively. In other words, if you’re looking to get closer to the automotive legend himself (at least with a performance car), you’d better have some serious dough handy.
The auction aftermath is clear evidence that Paul Walker’s legacy is still alive and well, even though he is no longer with us. His ubiquitous influence has driven the tuner community for decades, and it now seems that the same can be said for the M3’s corner of the collectible-car market. The so-called “Walker premium” was in full effect during the auction of his other possessions as well, with the complete 21-vehicle collection amassing a historic $2,330,000 in sales—the BMW lineup alone having been responsible for a $1,700,000 majority of that figure.
Current E36 M3 LTW owners can expect to benefit rather nicely from this newfound celebrity premium—and some are capitalizing on it already. A recently finalized sale on Bring a Trailer of this one-owner, 69,000-mile LTW has already stirred up the community. The well-maintained slicktop fetched a healthy $75,000 winning bid—a rather impressive number for a higher-mileage LTW under the ownership of someone other than the illustrious Paul Walker.
The LTW has and always will be a special BMW. For the unforeseeable future, this statement will remain true, and it is highly likely that the collectible-car market will agree, and do so enthusiastically. Move over, E30 M3 and 1 Series M Coupe; people are wising up to just how great other BMWs of yesteryear can be.—Malia Murphy
[Photos via Barrett-Jackson.]