Data Dive

BMW collector cars look good to younger enthusiasts

by James Hewitt
5 April 2023 2 min read
Bring a Trailer / rjh6385

BMW’s popularity among younger enthusiasts is no secret—whether on the street, at track days, or even drift events, the Munich brand has long been an entry point for those who want a sporting German experience.

It makes sense. BMW’s factory presence at race tracks across the globe hasn’t wavered, and the sport sedan segment benchmarked the 3 Series for decades. Current design choices and penchant for introducing new SUVs aside, BMW’s identity remains strong among the enthusiast community. In fact, we’ve noted a few trends that suggest that collector BMWs are as healthy as they’ve ever been, and younger generations are leading the way.


Demographic shift

For the first time, an enthusiast coming to Hagerty for a BMW quote is most likely to be a Millennial. That generation's share of quotes surpassed Gen X in 2022, and last January took over the top spot from the swiftly-receding share of Boomer interest. What's more, Millennials are quoting BMWs at values higher than any other age group, meaning they are willing to pay up for a higher-quality example. Gen Z's share of interest is on the rise as well, as are their quoted values. Curiously, though Gen X's share of the overall collector market is on the rise, their share of BMW interest is slowly trending down.

Uniform interest

The hits kept coming for BMW at the turn of the century, headlined by some truly memorable M-cars: the E46 M3 (2000-2006), Z3 M Roadster and M Coupe (1997-2002), and E39 M5 (1998-2003). You didn't need the M badge to get your kicks, though—each of those chassis are dynamic in their own right and come in a swath of drivetrain and trim levels. These salad days are reflected in the quotes sought: the '90s and '00s dominate interest across generations.

Model trends of note

Of course, the M3 has a strong enthusiast following, and its future also looks secure. Aside from the original E30 M3, interest in BMW's most famous model skews young. That's particularly true for the V-8-powered E9X-generation M3 or the first-of-the-turbos F80: both secure 2/3rds of their quotes from enthusiasts born after 1980.

It's not just outright performance people are after—interest in the throwback Z3 is on the rise. The 12-month count of Z3 quotes has increased 8% and has more than doubled in three years. Average quoted values for both are up 24% over the last two years, while Z3 values increased 45% on average in 2021 and had steady gains of 10% in 2022, with 3.0-liter cars leading the way.

Sam Smith

BMW's mid-size line is getting attention, too. Four of BMW's top six gainers in 2022 were 5 Series cars. Perhaps most noteworthy is the generational spread—cars from the 1972 5 Series through the 2003 M5 made strides, reminding us that despite the trends tipping toward "new" classics, older models still have plenty of juice left in the tank.


  • Gary Bechtold says:

    Not too surprising that younger buyers are gravitating towards the BMW of their youth. I would prefer a 3 series in E30, E36 or E46 generations myself.

  • Karl says:

    I inherited a 2001 BMW 325Ci Convertible from a friend (his older brother, sadly, died unexpectedly, and my friend had no interest in the car). The situation has reminded me of the tremendously analogue driving experience provided by this era of BMWs. It was a magical time, before electric-assisted power steering, overly intrusive driving “aids” and heavy safety equipment.

    I find myself thinking of 325 wagons and M3 purchases from the E46 generation while now watching all the auction sites for these cars, and I’ve got a line on a local 330Ci ZHP convertible, despite not needing any more cars at the moment.

    Did I mention how durable these cars are? My 2001 325Ci arrived with 205,000 miles 16 months ago, but looking like it had 1/3 of that because of how well my friend’s brother cared for it. It just turned over 212,000 this weekend, after multiple road trips to places like Las Vegas and Palm Springs. Amazing cars.

  • Bert Dandy says:

    I bought my first vintage car (if you don’t count a 1965 Mustang. I bought it in 1965 and lost it a year later in a crash so I guess it doesn’t count.), a 1998 Z3 Roadster, 3 years ago, and have been pleased to see the steady increase in valuations since then.

  • Paul Kiilaspea says:

    I predict the next BMW model to break into the collector market in North America is the 1st generation E53 SUV, particularly the 4.6is and the 4.8is. They could have been designated as M-Performance models, but back then BMW only allowed the M models to have rear wheel drive, therefore the “is” designation instead of “M”. These V8-powered models are already showing a strong collector following in Europe, increasing in value year-to-year. Many enthusiasts have deemed these, especially the more powerful x-Drive equipped 2004-06 4.8is, as the best-looking and best-handling BMW SUV’s of all time, besting all of the later models of X5. I have driven an ’04 X5 4.8is and a good number of the later X5M’s and fully agree with the aforementioned enthusiasts’ opinions. Handling and, most importantly, non-turbo naturally-aspirated powerful V8 motors, are bar none.

  • wdb says:

    The Z4 market is quite healthy too. If only Hagerty would stop navel gazing long enough to notice!

    • Eddy Eckart says:

      Hi wdb, indeed you are correct about the Z4—they are up the same amount as the Z3 over the last two years.

  • paul s murray says:

    Always liked the M coupes like the one shown. They still retain some of that purely Germanic Bauhaus styling that currently seems to be forgotten . They also remind me of the Volvo p 1800 wagon and that sporty wagon/estate configuration that I wish would make a come back. Enough room for your girlfriend, your dog and the tent. All a growing boy needs. Alas, all we get now are small uninspiring SUV’s. It is too weep.

  • Dennis Jacob says:

    There is a sub category of M5 and M6 with manual gearboxes and the stellar V10 NA engines. They are rare and provide the performance driving standards of the best BMW has built. They were only made between 2007 and 2010. Those maybe the next collectible BMW.

  • Bruce Stocker says:

    Being a new car salesperson, I am inundated with driver aids, safety equipment, adaptive everything and screens everywhere. How refreshing it is to climb in my 2.8L Z3 and feel the car respond to the road. Have had some offers on it and am not interested in selling at any price!

  • Charles Gamache says:

    I have a 2001 BMW Z3 2.5i w/56,000 miles, automatic, excellent garage kept condition. Read your article. great! In fact, I have Hagarty Insurance on the car. How may I get up-to-date valuation estimate?

    • Eddy Eckart says:

      Thanks Charles! You can check the Hagerty valuation tool here for updated values. In case you mean valuing your car for insurance purposes, I have taken down your email and will relay it to the insurance team. They’ll follow up with you!

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