1 of 1: Dakar Yellow 2003 BMW 325xi Touring Individual

1 of 1: Dakar Yellow 2003 BMW 325xi Touring Individual

“Too expensive” shouted a few Facebook comments on yesterday’s 330xi Feature Listing. “It’s 11 years old with 130K. WTF!”

He wasn’t alone, and I find that strange. Because, well, here’s a 14 year old 325xi. It’s got 159,000 miles. And, the asking price is a latte away from $8,000. There’s no maintenance disclosed, nor the careful care shown to our Feature Listing car, either.

But my guess is no one will be complaining that this particular all-wheel drive BMW is overpriced. That is simply because of the configuration in this case. While it’s certainly very rare to come across the E90 sedan in the specification of the Feature Listing from yesterday, I’ve never seen an E46 in this spec – nor are you likely to see another. That’s because this particular car is claimed to be one of one – the sole BMW Individual spec’d Dakar Yellow 325xi Touring 5-speed Sport Package.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 325xi Touring on 1023 Motors

2006 BMW M3 Competition Package with 11,600 Miles

2006 BMW M3 Competition Package with 11,600 Miles

To me, this M3 is a very interesting counterpoint to yesterday’s RS6. Many aspects are the same; pristine original condition, lower mileage, mid-2000s leading edge performance car.

It’s there where the similarities end.

While the RS6 represented the stepping over a threshold of performance into a war of escalation, the E46 M3 was, in many ways, BMW’s equivalent of the Porsche 993. It was the ultimate development of the normally aspirated inline-6, and to many (this author included), it was the best of the breed.

The third generation M3 is simply a marvel. It took the basic layout of its predecessor and improved essentially every aspect. The E36 wasn’t aggressive looking enough? Fixed. The motor wasn’t the technical marvel that was the European version? Fixed that, too. And the build quality and plastic materials in the second generation were a bit lacking? Solved that one, as well.

Are there drawbacks to the E46? Sure, it only came in two-door guise. There are also some known weaknesses in the chassis, like the subframe problems that can be a costly repair. The S54 is also a more expensive motor to repair than the S50/52 had been, and requires more maintenance (and, super costly oil).

But enough gripes, because while there isn’t a collector market for 2000s Audis, the E46 never really went through the dip in value that the E36 did. Prime examples have always demanded strong money and appear to be on the rise, with several notable auctions recently hammering for ever increasing numbers. Today’s example comes from the end of the line for the E46, and is about as desirable as they come to market. One of 2943 A08 Silvergray Metallic coupes imported, it has the desirable N51M Imola leather interior, the even more desirable 6-speed manual transmission and equally sought ZCP Competition package, and it’s only traveled a reported 11,600 miles since new.…

2002 BMW M3

2002 BMW M3

My dad’s E46 M3 was by far and away the best car he ever owned (though I guess that’s not saying much, since he mostly owned Fords). It was a convertible and, as a result, the chassis was somewhat compromised – the dash would shake at the slightest provocation from a pothole. Still, it was a great car, mostly because it was such a perfect all-rounder. It was fast, handled like a precision instrument and looked sufficiently aggressive without being too shouty. It was also very practical. If you took it down to the shops to pick up a pint of milk, and resisted the temptation to mash the throttle, it could be a very docile car to drive. But if you did open it up, the sound of that 3.2 liter straight six was pretty incredible. There’s nothing else I’ve heard that’s quite like it. It wasn’t a growl. It was a rasp, a sinister, menacing one. I hope that one day I’ll own one too.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M3 on eBay

Imola Overload: 2004 BMW M3

Imola Overload: 2004 BMW M3

I’ll admit that I seem to be unnaturally drawn to yellow M3s. I can trace that back to the launch of the E36 and the twin Dakar Yellow examples that turned up at Watkins Glen International for a HPDE; like a newborn, I was apparently imprinted upon them. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like other colors, though, and this Imola Red example certainly caught my attention. It ticked the right boxes; post-LCI example, low miles, 6-speed, great condition and a fantastic exterior color with the optional Fuchs 19″ Style 67 forged alloys. But even more impressive when scrolling through the images was the interior shade of matching Imola Red leather. Who would have ordered such a specification when the majority of new M3 purchasers were considerably more conservative? The answer was a bit surprising:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 on eBay

2001 BMW M3

2001 BMW M3

Of all the various iterations of the M3, the E46 version is my favorite (and the only one that I’ve actually driven. My dad owned one for a while). I love the S54 engine. The 3.2 liter, straight six powerplant emits an intoxicating, raspy howl when you mash the throttle and puts out just over 330 hp, enough to get the car to 60 in under 5 seconds – numbers that remain respectable today. I love the looks. The standard E46 coupe is attractive, in a sober and responsible way, but the bulging wheel arches, wider track and squat stance dial up the menace and aggression without overdoing it. And finally I love the everyday usability of these cars. The E46 cabin, for example, is a study in perfect ergonomics, offering a comfortable driving position and thoughtfully laid out controls. The chassis is taut and communicative, equally at home on the track or on the street doing the grocery run. Either way, it’ll put a smile on your face every time you drive it, which you can comfortably do, every day. These cars were produced in large enough numbers that finding one isn’t difficult, but you might have to wait a while (and spend a bit more) to get one in your ideal spec. For me, that would be a 6-speed manual coupe in a dark metallic color.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M3 on eBay

2006 BMW 330Ci

2006 BMW 330Ci

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for color. My eyes gravitate towards shades I don’t usually see, and this E46 certainly caught my eye. At first I was sure it must be a BMW Individual car like the Messing Metallic M3 I looked at earlier in the year. But no, this is a standard color, believe it or else. Sonora Metallic wasn’t often selected, as I frequently look that these cars and have never seen it (to my knowledge). Coupled with the Natural Brown leather interior and a 5-speed manual gearbox makes this 330Ci an appealing to look at yet quite affordable option for top-down German motoring:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW 330Ci on eBay

2004 BMW 330i ZHP

2004 BMW 330i ZHP


In stock form the E46 330i sedan was already a brisk, practical and rewarding car to drive. A capable sport sedan for grown ups, if you will. But when specified with the $4,000 ZHP “Performance Package,” the 330i could be given a slightly harder edge that helped to make up for the lack of a four-door M3 in the E46 range (at least, a bit). Offering a mixture of cosmetic upgrades (M-Sport bodykit, 18″ M-Sport wheels and splashes of alcantara interior trim) and some mechanical reworking  – firmer suspension, a remapped ECU and upgraded cams bringing power from the smooth 3.0 liter M54 engine to about 235 hp – ZHP equipped cars remain favorites among enthusiasts and tend to command strong money when they show up on the used market.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW 330i ZHP on Bimmerforums

2002 BMW M3

2002 BMW M3

The BMW M3 was a massively successful car in terms of sales for the most recent chassis iterations. For the U.S. specification E46 Coupe, that meant some 26,202 were sold. Yet, when I was searching for a nice one to buy, finding a lower mileage, great condition and fully original car was extraordinarily hard. It wasn’t that they weren’t out there – pop on to EAG’s site, for example, and all you need to do is pony up. Pony way up, that is, as most of their E46 inventory is priced above $30,000. However, the delta between really exceptional examples and really poor examples of the model is substantial. Even when not in stock form, such as the 2001 I looked at a few weeks ago, the asking price can be quite strong. However, drop the miles way down and present the car in a rare color, such as this Topaz Blue Metallic example, and sprinkle with some top-dollar modifications, and you’ve got an asking price that’ll get you the much more powerful E92 replacement:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M3 on eBay

2003 BMW 330i ZHP

2003 BMW 330i ZHP

1In the UK, where I grew up, the E46 3-series was available with a Sport package from 2001 onwards. This added M-Tech suspension, an M-Tech II bodykit, sport seats, steering wheel and “M V-Spoke” Style 72 alloys (later replaced by style 135s). The revised bumpers and spoilers definitely lent the car a more aggressive, sporting edge and considerably enhanced the overall look of the car. The package, officially renamed from “Sport” to “M Sport” in 2005, proved immensely popular throughout the E46 production run. As a result, the UK used market is filled with relatively cheap examples. Not so in the US. When I moved here, I soon discovered that the American E46 did not receive the same package until 2003, and only then on the 330i/330ci models. Known here as the ZHP or “Performance Package,” this added all of the aforementioned upgrades plus redesigned camshafts and a remapped engine computer, supposedly bringing power to 235 hp (10 hp more than standard models). Ticking this option box added nearly $4,000 to the cost of the car, making ZHP-equipped models relatively uncommon. As a result, when used examples do crop up they seem to command a considerable price premium.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 330i ZHP on eBay

2000 BMW 323i Touring

2000 BMW 323i Touring

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Every now and then, I come across an interesting car which I slot into my weekly rotation at GCFSB last minute. This 2000 BMW 323i Touring is one of those cars. I was in Hingham, Massachusetts on holiday last week, spending a few days at the house of a childhood friend. He’s been a BMW guy ever since they days my 1988 325is convinced him to take the plunge on a 1992 325i 5-speed sedan. He has stayed true to BMW with his latest rig, a 2009 328i xDrive Touring equipped with a 6-speed manual. We discussed how great this car was, allowing you to have your family car cake and eat it too. But one question posed by my friend was what to do now that BMW no longer imports a 3 series Touring with a manual gearbox. Well, you could always dial back the clock and explore the other interesting Tourings from BMW’s past. This E46 323i Touring for sale in Minnesota belies it’s age and 146,000 miles on the clock thanks to some fastidious care. It also has some tasty bits included, such as M3 front seats, a ZHP shift knob and Alcantara trimmed M3 steering wheel to provide maximum driving pleasure behind the wheel.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 323i Touring on eBay

Motorsports Monday: 2004 BMW M3 GTR Replica

Motorsports Monday: 2004 BMW M3 GTR Replica

In 2001, BMW wanted to race the new E46 M3 in the Le Mans GT series. But in order to really be competitive, it needed more power – after all, it would be racing the likes of the Corvette C5R, the Porsche 911 GT3, and even Ferraris. As stout as the S54 was, BMW opted to stick a V8 into the E46. Not only did the V8 produce more power, but a look under the hood revealed that it moved the weight back – far back – from where the inline-6 would normally hang. Run by Schnitzer in Europe and PTG in the U.S., they were quite successful if often protested, and in 2001 the PTG developed car won the Petit LeMans in the U.S. and continued to win until 2005 in Europe. They also won the imaginations of BMW fans across the globe, with the the necessary road-going 380 horsepower GTR model a mythical beast of near biblical proportions. Some went a step farther, though, and made track ready weapons. To lower the M3 and be able to run massive wheels – like the 18×11 and 12″ variety of this particular replica – it required some work. Well, a lot of work:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 GTR Replica on eBay

2002 BMW M3

2002 BMW M3

1When I went away to university, my dad finally got his hands on the best BMW he ever owned: a six-speed E46 M3 convertible in carbon black. He would put the roof down whenever he could, just to hear the raspy S54 motor sing from those quad tail pipes, even if the weather was crap (which, being England, it frequently was). With 333 hp squeezed from that naturally aspirated, race-tuned straight six it was fast, comfortable and relatively practical; a performance car you could daily drive. I’d like to own one myself one day, though I’m not willing to put up with the compromises made for the convertible, so I’d go with a coupe instead. I even have my ideal spec picked out: a six speed manual in stahlgrau (steel gray), a gun metal color discontinued after the facelift of ’03 and replaced by the more mercurial silver gray. While steel gray was not unique to the M-cars, I’ve always thought it suits the bulging lines and wider track of the M3 very well.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M3 on Bimmerforums

2000 BMW 323i Touring

2000 BMW 323i Touring

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A good friend of mine who lives on the coast in Massachusetts happens to drive an E91 328i xDrive Touring equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. This Touring would be the last five-door estate BMW would offer in the US with a manual gearbox. We sat around discussing potential replacements for this machine once the time comes but the only answers seemed to be buy an old car to replace it or become an expatriate. Given he’s married with two kids, the latter option would not be all that convenient. Well, if we want to take the latter route, why not size up this 2000 323i Touring for sale in Florida with the all important third pedal?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 323i Touring on eBay

1998 BMW M3 Sedan 3.6 Widebody 6-speed

1998 BMW M3 Sedan 3.6 Widebody 6-speed

Here’s an interesting one that has had me scratching my head quite a bit. What originally caught my eye was the bright Estoril Blue Metallic sitting on some refinished E46 Style 67 wheels. It was worth a second eyeball, which resulted in me noticing it was a 4-door. CLICK – I’m interested in seeing more. Once in the posting, the title became even more interesting – Racing Dynamics RD Sport? Lesser known than Alpina or Hartge, but still producers of some pretty trick products. 3.6 liter motor? 6-speed? TELL ME MORE!!!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 Sedan 3.6 Widebody 6-speed on eBay

2002 BMW M3

2002 BMW M3

When I pull the cover off my M3, it still seems like a bit of a dream. I can’t believe that I finally was able to get the car that I really wanted for such a long time. Yet, I still wonder a bit – did I pick the right one? With only around 500 Phoenix Yellow Metallic coupes imported to the U.S. there aren’t a lot to choose from any day of the week, so it is always a bit surprising to see one which outwardly looks exactly like my car. Well, almost exactly…

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M3 on eBay