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Talk me out of it: BMW F80 M3 edition

BMW manuals are dying, but if you want an F80 M3, you're going to pay a lot more for a lot less car in the used market.


The lure of the V-10 proved to be too much, and the R8 took 54% of the vote. This week, let’s celebrate the good times: a BMW with a manual transmission. They might be dying, but you can’t kill the ones already made. Well, you can, but not all at once. Let’s look at the F80 M3 this time – and you’re in for a surprise.

75% were produced with a DCT, which means there are far fewer manuals. What does that mean for the used market? Well…

2018 F80 M3 Competition vs 2018 F80 BMW M3

See the DCT listing here

See the manual listing here

There are all sorts of F80 M3s for sale right now, and most of them have reached the point of maximum depreciation. You can see the cycle by now – look how much E9Xs have risen. Before long, the F will be there too.

But for now, we can enjoy what might be the best bang for your M3 buck. Since we have a plethora of choice, let’s keep it tight – both 2018 models, so these F80s received their LCI treatments. Tempting as the CS is, you can’t spec one with a manual, so let’s choose from these two.

2018 BMW F80 M3 manual

Hope you like orange. Photo: Autotrader

The “base” model (you can tell from the chrome badge), this M3 has a 425-horsepower S55. The Competition package would add 19. Otherwise:

  • 82,088 miles
  • $47,900
  • Tinted windows and a high-kick spoiler could mean modz, yo. PPI is a must.
  • Speaking of, I see a few IND pieces here. Not terrible.
  • Hope you like Sakhir Orange, because it’s everywhere here, inside and out.
  • Wood trim. Easy enough to swap this out if you don’t like your M3 giving you a woody.
  • Clean CarFax
  • Four previous owners. Not great. We’d be the fifth.
  • Lived in Seattle, Texas, and New Jersey

I think nearly $50k for a car with mileage approaching triple digits isn’t so great. There is an option…

2018 BMW F80 M3 Competition

This Comp has a DCT and a history of shared ownership. Photo: TrueCar

Watch what happens when you select the M3 with two clutches and Commander Data responsible for shifting:

  • $46,777, cheaper than the manual
  • 43,511 miles – half – HALF! – of the other one
  • Again, modz. Tints, lowered suspension – expect this from a used F80, just be educated on the car’s history.
  • Sapphire Black over Sakhir, with carbon fiber trim. Tasteful.
  • Owned in California, and only two owners, but…
  • Fleet-owned. That means everyone drove it, and no one loved it.
  • Clean title

Despite the challenging history, I think you’re taking a risk with either car, which is the point of Talk Me Out Of It.

The F80 M3 market, and what to expect

F80 M3
Now’s the time.

In the US, a little over 16,000 M3s were sold during the F80’s production run. Of those, 4,548 were equipped with a manual, compared to 11,509 for the DCT. The pool is much larger if you include the M4, but let’s keep apples and oranges separate.

People also seem to dig the LCI here. If you go for a pre-LCI model, manuals become a bit more reasonable. Here’s a $50k example that has only 29,000 miles, sold on BaT last year.

If you find a good deal on an older model, you can change the head- and taillights, leaving only an older iDrive system and minor trim differences inside. I fixed a lot of that in my pre-LCI 335i.

And remember, this is an S55, so it can go boom if you don’t check the crank hub.

But for today, we’re pretending just these two M3s are left in the universe. How much is a manual worth to you?

Want your car reviewed?

If you live in the tri-state area and want me to check it out, send me an email! 

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