Today prices start at around £12,000 for a car which, in coupé form, cost from £51,000. It arrived in 2007 with a six-speed manual gearbox, Variable M-differential lock, dynamic stability control and the choice of three engine settings. Electronically adjustable damping (EDC) was an option. 

A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) was optional. It was the first time BMW had used the new gearbox but it has proved to be reliable. Its Drivelogic feature allows the driver to fine-tune gear shifts. Purists dislike it but it was much more popular, more efficient and is, frankly, a lot more fun. Just check, if it’s an early M3, that the 2008 recall concerning its control unit was followed through. 

The coupé’s carbonfibre-reinforced plastic roof makes this version even lighter than the porky convertible that arrived, along with the saloon, in 2008. That said, the soft-top is a properly stiff motor with little scuttle shake, albeit not as sharp a handler as its sister cars. 

There are far fewer saloons (which also has a carbonfibre roof) for sale today but it’s an appealing thing: more practical than the other two versions and more in keeping. We found a 2008/58-reg, with 64,000 miles but only a ‘good’ BMW service history, for £14,950. 

In 2009 the M3 Coupé Edition arrived sporting a 10mm-lower ride height, a tweaked cabin and new colours. It was followed, in 2010, by the Competition package, with revised EDC and DSC settings, and later the same year by the GTS coupé powered by a 4.4 V8 with 444bhp. It sold out immediately and today they’re serious bucks. The Limited Edition, and the M Performance Edition with lowered suspension, launched in 2012 and saw out the M3 with a bang, the aftershocks of which are still being enjoyed to this day.

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How to get one in your garage

An expert’s view

Jags Bhamra, founding director, BMSport: “I prefer the saloon to the coupé and convertible. It’s more discreet as well as practical, but all three are reliable. There’s the occasional leaky gearbox sump and failing throttle actuators, but otherwise they’re tough. If any are troublesome it tends to be those that have been over-cared for, as in valeted and detailed every weekend. You’re better off with one that looks like it’s rarely seen a bucket and sponge. As long as it’s had its oil and fluid changes, it’ll be fine. The only mod I might make is a fruitier exhaust, something like a Supersprint. Also consider a custom remap to improve driveability.”