The E46 BMW M3 is at a tipping point where examples are getting inexpensive enough that the second, third or fourth generation of owners is able to pick them up and modify them. Buying a modified car cuts a tremendous amount of labor and money off the price if you like the mods, but you’re also buying a car that you know has been used – perhaps hard – by what’s likely a non-original owner in a car with no more warranty. There are a lot of modified E46s out there to choose from, so today I took two blue examples that modded in different directions for a comparison. Which is the one to buy?
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A few months ago at a gathering of friends, two BMWs were present – my friend’s E46 M3 and his acquaintance’s E82 135i. A bit under my breath, I mentioned to him that I still couldn’t get over how unattractive the 135i was compared to the M3. I may have said that the E82 looked a bit like a really poor quality bodyshop repaired a E46 that had been both in full frontal and rear crashes – poorly. But my friend countered that if anything, that 135i was faster and more fun to drive than his M3. Looking back, I paused, and thought “Could I?” The answer remains no in my book, but it does raise an interesting question – with E92 335i prices dropping within reach of the higher E46 M3s, which is the better choice?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 335i on eBay
With Christmas 2014 now in the rear view mirror, did everyone get what they wanted from Santa? If not, here’s something of a late present to make up for it: a Dakar Yellow E36 M3. I’m not typically a fan of yellow on cars, but Dakar Yellow looked a treat on this M3. Much like Estoril Blue, it was a color almost made for this car, accentuating the styling which was a crisp update of the E30 3 series. This M3 with well under 100,000 miles comes to us from our friends at Shift Bespoke Automotive in Laguna Hills, California.
Click for details: 1995 BMW M3 on eBay
I still remember the first time I went to the track and saw the notorious M3 Lightweight. I had read about it coming in the BMWCCA magazine and it looked exciting. Sure, it still wasn’t the full bore M3 that the rest of the world got to experience, but if you were a track junkie it was a recipe made in heaven. With less weight and some trick aerodynamic aids added to the already stout out-of-the-box E36 M3, it was no surprise that several of the BMWCCA instructors who had other 3-series dumped them to get the Lightweight. They were also a hit in Club Racing, where they were turned up a few notches to make a serious track weapon. Today one such club racer is for sale from the seriously BMW-savvy group at Fall-Line Motorsports:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight on eBay
Last week, Nate wrote up one of my favorite M3s – the 1995 M3 in Daytona Violet with Dove Grey leather Vaders. With low miles and great photographs, it was certainly an impressive sight. Also like Nate, I’ve always loved the subdued look of the E36 M3 since its launch, and the Double Spoke wheels just suit the package perfectly. But Nate’s question was poignant – is the world ready for $25,000 E36 M3s again? In the case of some ultra low mile examples or Lightweights, perhaps it is. But for a normal M3 with moderate miles, the asking price seemed pretty steep even given the condition. Only a week later, then, I submit to you the Budget Barney; a little over triple the miles of the last example but the same color combination in overall very good condition, and importantly available for only about a third of the previous example’s asking price: