I opted to get a 98 328i sport with stick and 50K for around 14K. This last year of e36 328i is the best year to get. If you can get the M3, then of course get it--although I chose not to because of insurance. I immediately put in Dinan suspension to improve handling dramatically.
AVOID the auto... it is notorioius for being a little weak--not one of GM's better tranny's from what I hear.
I love my 328i.
98 328i, black/black, manual, canadian sport pkg, ECIS intake, koni sport adj's, dinan springs, oe/oem clears.
Considering: tms shark,M 17" wheels, larger sway bars.