In Reply to: Questions about the M3 posted by BrianISO on September 12, 2000 at 10:33:29:
The August 2000 Road and Track has a very good write up of the E36 M3 as a used car purchase. With albeit a few errors, they hit all the important parts of the car's reliability record. (water pump, thermostat, rear shock mounts, VANOS gears and over revs) Aside from their comment about the 97+ cars having the over rev problems fixed, they are about right on.
In US Spec, your NA power is going to peak right around 270. This will cost you intake side work, ECU and exaust (cone-intake, Euro HFM and bigger thottle body being very popular). If you want anything more, the head needs to come off. (restrictive valves)
If you want mid-300s and more, a SC or Turbo is the way to go. Plenty of good kits out there. (AA's, Dinans, et al)
Stock for stock, expect to run low 14s right around 100, which is right on par with a Cobra. (the difference being if there is a turn at the end of this dragstrip, you can rest assured that you will spank the Cobra around it)
One thing is for certain. The horsepower/dollar ratio on M3 tuning is much greater than on any Mustang. Its well worth it, but better get your wallet out.