Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at autoTRADER.ca dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used-car deal.

This time round, we’re highlighting another used performance car bargain yet again. The subject of this month’s story packs a screamer all-motor V8 engine, discreetly upgraded looks, and handling chops to run with competitor posh-rocket models all day long. Today, it’s all about the last-generation BMW M3, which was available from model years 2008 to 2013.

Sign us up right now for a $30,000, 8,000 rpm German V8! Here’s a go-fast plaything that’s more than happy to handle your daily commute or a weekend road-trip with ease, too. Aren’t split-personality sports cars the best?

The Sticky

Look for this generation BMW M3 in coupe, sedan, and convertible body styles, depending on the year in question. All units were powered by a 4.0L V8, featuring a screaming 8,000 rpm redline and 414 all-motor horsepower. Every BMW M3 is rear-wheel drive, and transmission choices included a six-speed manual, or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Notably, via numerous driver-configurable systems, the M3 could easily be toggled from mild to wild on the fly. It’s as easygoing, or hot-and-bothered, as you’d like.

Approximate New Value

The used M3 you’re considering once separated its original owner from no less than about $70,000 for starters, with coupe and convertible models elevating the price further. Numerous options, packages, and special edition models drove the pricing thousands of dollars further. A new BMW M3 from this generation could relieve owners of $80,000 or more with little trouble.

Approximate Used Value

Today, after just a few years of use and often with reasonable mileage, shoppers will have no trouble finding a used BMW M3 from this generation for half of its original value, and often, even less.

Early-model-year copies of this generation M3 can be had from around $30,000 all day long, including models like this, with about 100,000 kilometres of former use.

If there’s a bit more room in your budget, a used M3 like this one or this one will get you into a few-year-newer copy, with about 60,000 kilometres of use, for about $50,000. Here’s an interesting 2013 unit with low mileage for $60,000.

If you’re not afraid of a few more miles on the clock, examples like this and this can be found in the mid-twenties, or about a third of their original value. As many M3 owners store their vehicles for winter, the condition of the body and paint, even on older used models from this generation, is often surprisingly good.

Your best value in a used M3? To us, it seems like the sweet-spot is around $35,000 – less than half the M3’s original value, and there’s plenty of selection here, too.

Test Drive Tips

Assume that every used M3 you’re checking out has been beaten, neglected, and improperly cared for. Until you or a mechanic confirms otherwise, assume the vehicle needs suspension work, new brakes, new tires, all fluid changes and tune-up work, and a new clutch.

Use of a BMW M3 that’s wearing questionable tires from a sketchy brand is not advised. Confirm that the unit you’re considering is on a good set of performance rubber with plenty of tread remaining. If that’s not the case, budget for a new set. This will be pricey.

On coupe and convertible models, inspect the side-window glass for signs of vertical scratching, which could indicate a problem with a window regulator which needs to be replaced.

Note that transmission-related clumsiness from the DCT transmission, which can include hard or rough shifting, is typically software-related in nature and easily fixed via a software update, but that any questionable behaviour should be investigated further. Note that, using the iDrive controller, test drivers can access Menu, then Vehicle, then the Check Control function, which runs a brief diagnostic scan and can reveal possible problems.

Be sure to confirm proper operation of each and every electronic accessory in the M3 you’re considering, paying close attention to the remote keyfobs, locks, windows, central iDrive command interface, climate control, motorized seat adjusters, Bluetooth, headlights, stereo, and the like. Now’s the time to ensure that all of the M3’s electronics are in proper working order. Note that the xenon lights in the M3 you’re after will be pricey to repair if they’re burned out, so confirm that they’re both working.

Read this next paragraph 23 times: have any M3 you’re considering checked out by a BMW technician before you buy. A pre-purchase inspection (PPI) should be considered mandatory, and is your single best defence against buying a unit that’s concealing issues. Further, for maximum long-term peace of mind, be sure the M3 you’re considering is, and always has been stock, especially in regard to engine-tuning. Custom engine software and internals can cause problems and headaches, and are best avoided by the average shopper for maximum long-term durability.

The Verdict

We like the idea of a screaming German V8 for under $30,000 very much – but we’d be making absolutely sure to have full service records, and a full pre-purchase inspection report in our hands before parting with our cash.