It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 8 months since we looked at a E46 M3 Competition Package, but we spend so much time playing catch-up on popular models that sometimes we don’t look at the models that will be classics of tomorrow. Amongst those potential future classics, few shine quite as bright as the E46 M3. As a car that’s affordable and still fairly new, the E46 M3 offers performance levels few sports cars reach. It’s also one of the last BMWs mere mortals can work on, the last offering of the S54 motor before the M division switched to twin-turbocharged inline-6s and V8s. To some, the E46 was a mass-produced marketing tool; but to me, the E46 M3 corrected many of the perceived faults of the E36 M3. Of course, the motor was a large part, but outside the M3 was now really set off by flares, quad exhausts, bulges, gaping intakes and vents that really made it look as special as it was. Denied the CSL, for U.S. customers the most special of the breed were the late run ZCP “Competition Package” cars like today’s Interlagos Blue example:
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I don’t think it gets any better than white on red. Sure, I’m partial to Alpine White with black interiors, but if I had a choice in the matter, both of my cars would be draped in cardinal hides. There’s a lot I like about this E30 M3, particularly the price which is more than fair in this era of rising values. There’s no mileage (that I can see) listed, but the condition seems to validate a car with average miles and fastidious upkeep. The leather looks great, the body unmarked, the dash uncracked and the one-piece shifter boot intact. Though I will say, the harnesses and “suspension upgrades” make me wonder how much of this car’s life was spent on a track – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW M3 on Hemmings Classifieds
This is a difficult weak for me to say nice things about either of my BMWs. The pin that holds the gear shift linkage let go on the M3, requiring a tow to a local shop. Then, upon using the E30 as backup, the alternator bearings began doing not-good things and within the course of 12 hours, both cars were deposited at the mechanic’s abode. Not earth-shattering repairs mind you, but not anticipated, either. Regardless, upon looking at the big picture and realizing I get to drive an M3 every day for not much more than the cost of fuel and reasonable insurance, I can’t complain when the occasional repair comes calling. That’s why I like this M3 sedan an awful lot, especially for commuters or couples with 1.5 kids in tow. Why the hell would you not jump at the chance to have a daily driver like this?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW M3 on eBay
I share a parking lot with a BMW CCA driving instructor, an individual who regularly participates in track days. Every time he sees my ’95 M3, I get another persuasive lecture on how I should be getting the proper training and having the car set up for high-performance driving events. Although I like mine in its current stock daily driver configuration, the sheer number of track-prepped E36 M3s that appear with regular frequency on eBay and other sites indicate that my driving instructor buddy isn’t the only one that recoils at the site of an under-utilized M3. Of course, when I see a number like “…over $40K in upgrades…”, I realize there’s more than one reason why a track-prepped E36 is nothing I will own anytime soon.