Hello there and welcome to the BMW Car Club of America.

If you are a BMW CCA member, please log in and introduce yourself in our Member Introductions section.

Here's something you don't get to see everyday: An E36 automatic M3 4-door sedan!

Discussion in 'E36 (1992-1999)' started by bcweir, May 17, 2010.

    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    If any of you have never seen an automatic 4-door M3, here's your chance.

    This 2/98 car is owned by a friend of mine who lives in Japan. Four door E36 M3's are not a common sight, especially one equipped with an automatic too.

    Don't dismiss it on account of its automatic transmission. My friend reports its still a very fast E36.

    http://s877.photobucket.com/home/hellboy99/recentuploads

    Edited by admin to fix URL at the request of bcweir
    • Member

    az3579

    Post Count: 3,270
    Likes Received:3
    How could it not be dismissed? An automatic defeats the very essence of an M.
    I'll take a manual 328i any day over an automatic M.


    By the way, the link doesn't work.
    • Member

    TeamStowell We love driving!

    Post Count: 634
    Likes Received:3
    I see one every day! That is Bev's daily driver, and people keep trying to purchase it and the 635 Euro from us. :)
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    I don't know why the link behaves that way. I've tried many times to correct it.

    You can still copy and paste it. I gave up after trying ten times to fix it

    That's still an S52 engine backing it up, as well as being a factory-correct M car in every way. It's not a fake that was cobbled together in someone's garage -- it rolled off the BMW assembly line as a fully certified M3.

    Some would say that SMG transmissions don't belong in M-cars either. There have also been a number of cars produced by BMW's M-Division that were not released as M-cars per se. Some examples I will list here are the 2002 turbo (this car predated the M-division, yet its equipment certainly would have met every definition of an M-car), BMW E23 turbocharged 745i, the BMW 850CSi, and the Z8. None of those had a proper M-designation, while this M3 does, as well as a correct VIN for a 1998 four door M3.
    • Member

    tiFreak

    Post Count: 523
    Likes Received:2
    looks almost identical to my dads, only difference is that his is a 97, has a mesh grill in the bumper, has a spoiler and has Breyton rims :eek:

    I've driven it, not really a fan of the automatic even with all that extra power

    Bimmerdude3 guest

    Post Count: 34
    Likes Received:0
    B/S, lol the essence of the M is in the award winning suspension by that logic the US-spec M3 should be dismissed because they made a Euro with more balls. I don't disagree with you, my point is its not all that hard to burn that debotchery to molten metal and shove a ZF in there. Nor is it that expensive.

    There are benefits to that, you know the P/Os didn't do something stupid and niether did the house-wife!

    lol

    Well the s52 is no gem compared to an M52, you can hit the same numbers with basic mods leaving the stock bolt on's.

    I would take a 325is with M3 bumpers so long as its suspension and drivetrain where swapped to M3 parts, unless its a collector the cars where made to be driven. The SMG is a great transmission anyone who shun's it is either a moron or someone who had problems with theres which I dont blame them at 7-8Gs for a new one! Its not like its an e46 where your getting a different chassis, all you get by factory M is a badge plus the goods. And on an e36 you get swap in all the goodies.

    Having said that any chance this one is under 60K you may have a gem?
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    Not to dismiss the automatics, but there are certain situations...

    ...that work better in the automatics favor.

    I'm squarely in the "can't we all get along camp."

    But I can think of some advantages to an automatic:
    • Automatics tend to be better suited for highly populated urban environments with high traffic densities. Ever sit in a traffic jam for hours with a manual transmission? How's your leg at the end of the day? I rest my case on this point.
    • A properly maintained automatic can last four times or more as long as the most hamfisted driver with a manual. My car has 223k, and doesn't appear to have ever been out of the car. Try racking up 223k on a manual-transmissioned car on your original clutch. Advantage: automatic.
    • Some drivers, even some ENTHUSIASTS, have medical conditions, or are amputees that complicate or prohibit the use of a manual. Before you toss the "non-enthusiast" or "wimp" bomb at them, make sure you get the whole story. Some even have circulatory issues in their legs that could put their health at risk by using a clutch. I'm not going to cast judgement on those drivers.
    • This next point is highly controversial, but it COULD be argued that automatics contributed to broadening the appeal of BMW's to a wider number of drivers. The BMWCCA might even be what it is because of it. Instead of being a tiny circle of a few diehards, there are thousands of enthusiasts with both manual and automatic transmissioned cars. I'm not going to fall into the trap of being a "clutch-snob" just because a fellow member's car lacks a clutch. A larger BMWCCA membership, with manuals, automatics, SMGs, DCT's and what have you, is a better one that can do more for its membership than a tiny one consisting of only a few "purists."
    • Four words: NO. CLUTCH. DELAY. VALVE. One less thing to disable on these cars.
    • It's a bit of a stretch to suggest that the computerized automatics in my car give me the best of both worlds, but it's close to doing just that. Not only is the ZF 4HP-24EH transmission in my car technically a "triple-threat" (it can operate as a traditional automatic, as a sport automatic with overdrive lockout giving a 1:1.0 final drive ratio, and a manual mode allowing it to hold any gear and function as a clutchless manual), but the adaptive software actually "learns" and "adapts" to a driver's particular driving habits and style.
    • The ZF automatic in that M3 is MILES better than the GM automatics that some E46 cars got stuck with in terms of reliability.
    • I should point out that transmissions aside, it's STILL an M3. That's something a 325 E36 transplant will NEVER be.
    • Four door sedans are a lot easier for rear passengers to enter, regardless of model or transmission type.
    • Older BMW enthusiasts, female enthusiasts, or medically-challenged enthusiasts, all of them most likely to operate an automatic vehicle, are STILL enthusiasts.
    gassywynd likes this.
    • Member

    CSBM5

    Post Count: 340
    Likes Received:3
    Actually, it's almost split 50/50 in terms of production volume for the US market of M3 sedans. 53% were manuals, and 47% were automatics. There are 5 auto sedan M3s on ebay right now for example.

    Here are the production volumes:

    sedan manual (LHD): 4,574 produced from 09/96 through 05/98
    sedan automatic (LHD): 4,036 produced from 09/96 through 05/98
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

    Post Count: 1,880
    Likes Received:15
    I have racked up over 223k on multiple BMWs on the original clutch. It is not that uncommon.
    There is no CDV on any E36 manual anyway.
    The GM trans in my wagon is crapping out at 160k. It has tried to adapt to my driving style, but is ill suited to a high-revving M50 non-Vanos and will be replaced with a manual. It gets crappy gas mileage because the only way to get it to accelerate swiftly is to keep the revs up, and the only way to do that is to manually shift it. If I have to manually shift it anyway, I'm dumping the auto.
    The M3 has an A5S (ZF 5HP-18) trans. The A5S transmissions are not known for their longevity, but is marginally better than the GM trans behind the M50/52 engines.
    Nothing wrong with a 4 door sports car. It is an M3. The auto 4 door, however, is pretty common and I do see them often.

    And for the record, my wife is a female enthusiast and she knows how to drive a 5 speed. In fact, when I built the 325ti, she requested a 5 speed. Don't put the auto down to female enthusiasts. More of them were likely sold to female non enthusiasts.
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    Some clarifications if you would.

    Please re-read my post. It says (no edits, straight copy and paste here)
    . Ever hear the grinding crunch of someone who doesn't know how to use a clutch properly? It's like scraping nails across a chalkboard to those of us who know better. You can bet dollars to Roundels such an individual WILL be changing out their clutch sooner than later. It was of those individuals of which I spoke. Please tell me you want such a clutch-abusive individual to stick with a manual if they're not willing to learn how to operate a clutch properly. I can't imagine defending continued abuse of a BMW-made product.


    You'll get nothing from me defending a GM product.

    If that's the case, your wife is a rare breed, not in the majority. Statistically speaking, an overwhelming number of female buyers choose automatics over manuals. The majority of manual-transmissioned buyers are still overwhelmingly male. Since mindreading isn't my forte, and I doubt its yours either, I'm going to stick with the numbers, rather than try to split hairs on who's an enthusiast and who's not based on transmission choice.

    Case in point: Do you really want to try to convince any and every owner of a non-manual-transmissioned BMW that they aren't at least as much of an enthusiast as you are? Tell me you're not seriously planning to lose that many friends here. How many BMW owners here have SMG or DCT-based transmissions again? We're not even counting 7-series owners, which, except for some E23 and E32 M30-powered vehicles, are almost exclusively automatics.
    • Member

    eam3

    Post Count: 324
    Likes Received:2
    And there it is. As much as I wanted my 330Ci to be a manual, the reality is that it's my daily driver and there are days of the week that I cannot use my arm so an automatic had to be the answer. Now, if I got a toy car (hypothetically a nice E24 :D), then I would love for that to have a nice manual transmission but I definitely could not use it as a daily driver though.
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    Glad to hear it. I hope your auto-transmission isn't a GM part.

    If it is, may you be one of the lucky few who sees it outlive you.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

    Post Count: 1,880
    Likes Received:15
    I read your post. Of course a ham fisted moron can tear up a manual, but they can do the same to an automatic through lack of maintenance, revving in neutral (in the case of earlier ZF transmission,) shifting into reverse while moving forward, etc. If they are idiots and don't know how to drive then they shouldn't be driving anything regardless of marque. Would you rather they just tear up an automatic BMW than maybe just learn to drive?

    You didn't say buyers, you said enthusiasts. The vast majority of female buyers chose autos, but nearly every single female BMW enthusiast I know chooses a manual over an auto.

    Putting words into my mount much?

    [IMG]

    You were the one that said female enthusiasts were most likely to operate an automatic vehicle. I am merely defending them from you putting them into that category simply because of gender. Would you like to convince each and every female that considers themselves an enthusiast that they should be driving an auto? You didn't say anything like that and I didn't say anything like that either.
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    Considering that neither of us are in position to tell adults what to buy or drive

    ...why don't we just drop it?

    Fair enough?
    • Member

    Apex000

    Post Count: 82
    Likes Received:0
    honestly that's exactly what i did. my parents (yes parents, it was a birthday gift) gave me a choice of two cars , one was a 98 M3 vert with an auto and the other choice was my 99 328i vert.

    i chose the 328i because of two factors , lower mileage (59,xxx vs the M3's 120,xxx) and the 328i was a manual .

    i'm pretty happy with my choice , although i'm sure an auto M3 will walk all over my 328i. :p
    • Member

    CSBM5

    Post Count: 340
    Likes Received:3
    I agree. Both my wife and my daughter are very much female enthusiasts, and both greatly prefer a manual transmission. My daughter would probably be much more vocal about arguing that a slushbox ruins the driving experience, and of course she's speaking from a performance standpoint in autocrossing where the 6MT is a huge advantage. She's been autoxing for 5+ years and is very good at it. Being "unconnected" from a car via an auto isn't something she enjoys, nor do I.

    I can't stand driving slushbox cars and especially modern BMW autos with all the crazy throttle/tranny programming (i.e. see related threads recently here) that infects everything from the 328i to the B7. However, I could care less if someone else prefers an automatic. My preference and opinion should be of no interest or effect to anyone else.

    Interesting aside...back in 1996 Volvo ran a commercial showing the 850R beating the E36 M3 in the 1/4 mile. If it had been the 5mt M3, the 850R wouldn't have beat it, but it was an automatic they ran it against. Of course the 850R is an automatic too but it has a minor weight advantage in addition to a huge torque curve advantage (turbo). We've had the 850R wagon since new almost 15 years ago now, and it of course is an automatic. I've often thought about the rare 5mt/lsd conversion some have done on that car...none were imported but they were available in Europe.
    • Member

    az3579

    Post Count: 3,270
    Likes Received:3
    Just arguing about sheer driving pleasure, you cannot win. :p

    * prepares the "this is wrong because" game face...*

    No, as a matter of fact, I have never been so tired that I didn't want to drive a manual again for that day. You know why? Because I refuse to work anywhere that requires a large parking lot to navigate through just to get to and from work every day. If you have to sit through a parking lot, why do you have a car? More appropriately, why do you drive your car through traffic so much? Why don't you take the train or public transportation if this is a huge concern for you?

    Come again? Why have I heard of NO stories between people I know of manual transmissions failing but have heard MULTIPLE stories of automatics failing? A manual will NEVER go down given proper clutch changes (if even necessary for the life of the car) and fluid changes. Many automatics are lucky to see 200k miles based on the things I've seen/heard, and that's assuming the owners maintain them, which most don't.

    Those are the people who have no choice. Those that do have a choice and enjoy performance driving and choose an automatic over a manual in my opinion made the wrong choice.

    BMW automatics have been around for AGES, including the time that BMW wasn't as popular of a brand. The choice of automatic transmission has a NEGLIGIBLE effect on how BMWs became so popular. The only reason now that the majority of BMWs are automatics (and for the love of all things holy, do not argue that DCTs aren't automatics) in the US is because people here are overall less concerned with driving than in other parts of the world, and unfortunately more and more people are raised in a way that they are never taught to drive a manual, because having an automatic is "soooo easy". EVERYTHING in our lives is made easier by some kind of gadget or toy, and the eventual fall of the manual transmission will be because technology always rules and survives, and manual is an old technology.

    Unfortunately one thing that's not taken into consideration on many cars is that there are people who don't want all that electronically unreliable stuff and just want the interaction they can get with their cars, because we all know that cars are becoming less and less connected to the driver as far as pure driving feel goes.

    You know, I had one in my E46 and personally do not see what the huge fuss is about. Sure, it's a *little* bit more difficult to drive it smoothly, but I had no problem adapting. Besides, you have your choice of a FREE "take it out" mod or a CHEAP $30 delete valve. Is $30 worth the driving pleasure? You're damned right it is. You won't see people that truly enjoy driving a manual crying about it, because they would have already taken the darned thing out or replace it already and continued on in their merry motoring ways.

    More on how it's more electronics than driver. This in part is helping contribute to the driver being less connected to the car. I don't want MODES, I want it to do what I want it to do, when I want it to do it, and can do that with my left foot and right hand in an instant, no buttons necessary.

    Better? Perhaps. It's still an autotragic though.

    Sure, it's an M3, with the incorrect transmission. It'll never be as fast, as fuel-efficient, or as reliable as a ZF-S5D320-Z equipped M3.

    I was never debating this; I personally think 4-door reign supreme in the useability department and in *some* cases the looks department.

    Enthusiasts, most definitely, but definitely do not enjoy driving as much as those that have learned to drive the correct transmission (assuming they had the choice [no medical reasons]).




    I am Botond, and I am a manual-trasmission-aholic. In my mind, anyone who disagrees with why a manual is superior, is wrong.
    • Member
    • Technical Service Advisor

    mooseheadm5

    Post Count: 1,880
    Likes Received:15
    Only think I have to say, B, is that some manual transmissions hung behind BMW engines can fail prematurely, though that is usually due to specific design flaws for the ones I am speaking of.
    • Member

    az3579

    Post Count: 3,270
    Likes Received:3
    Design flaws are design flaws. The automatics that fail that I'm referring to aren't due to design flaws, but because they just happened to fail.
    • Member

    bcweir

    Post Count: 1,267
    Likes Received:5
    If you're going to argue "my way is better" and everyone else is WRONG...

    ..........could you at least spell transmission correctly?:D

    And yes, I agree. It really is all in your mind.

Share This Page