The E46 BMW M3 is a car loved by many enthusiasts but it always seems to me that the love is anything but unconditional. During its six year production run the third generation M3 had its fair share of issues that have led to it being a very divisive car. Many swear that these cars are the pinnacle of BMW engineering before they lost their way, others point to them as a prime example of what happens when a community is in denial. Honestly I don’t fall into either camp, but I can see how both sides would have a valid argument. On the one hand these cars can be your ticket to having insane amounts of naturally aspirated fun and on the other they can drain your savings account faster than a fantasy sports gambling site. As with any used vehicle there are specific years and specific issues you need to look out for: VANOS failure, cracking rear subframes, snapping rear springs and of course the whole SMG unit. Most of these issues affected all years of the E46 M3 but if you got your hands on a manual you could avoid that final one all together. However, there was one particular model that I think warrants consideration despite it being saddled with BMW’s fancy manumatic transmission, the M3 ZCP.
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Laguna Seca Blue is one of the most desirable colors for the future-classic E46 M3, and today we have an example that will probably spend most of its life parked as a preservation specimen. With just under 10k miles, it’s barely been broken in is priced as one of the best E46s out there. I can’t see anyone spending this much money on such a car and putting any considerable amount of miles on it. Alas, this Ultimate Driving Machine will not be driven, but in a few decades it will stand as one of the finest examples of one of the most venerated millennial sports cars. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this car, as Carter wrote it up back in July 2014 and from a previous seller and in unmodified form in May 2014. It has to be said that the price a year ago seems much more compelling and fitting.
Click for details: 2001 BMW E46 M3 on eBay
However subtle the exterior modifications may be, the E39 M5’s enlarged front aperture and unique wheels still grab my attention from blocks away. As nice examples become the exception, these super sedans are hovering around the bottom of their depreciation curve, no longer going down but not shooting up as quickly as they soon will. With examples between 50-100k miles hovering around $25-30k, this looks like an enthusiast-owned driver that’s very nice but not perfect and being sold at a very reasonable price.
Click for details: 2000 BMW M5 on eBay
On my last visit home to Philadelphia, I happened to stop by and peruse the lot at Porsche of Bucks County in Warrington, Pennsylvania. For those familiar with the area, you may remember this dealer as Holbert’s Porsche-Audi-VW. Bob Holbert, a native of Warrington and Porsche race car driver in the 1950s and 1960s, founded this dealership in 1954. This would be one of the first Porsche dealers in the United States. Much like importer Max Hoffman, Holbert had a large role in shaping Porsche’s direction and success in the US market. His son Al also raced Porsches, winning Sebring in 1976 and 1981. He also ran the dealership for a time and was President of Porsche Motorsports North America. Sadly, Al met his fate in a plane crash in 1988, with his brother Larry taking over management of the dealership until being bought out in 2010 by a larger conglomerate of dealers.
In addition to a few of Holbert’s racing cars hanging around the showroom, the family also had a hand in a bit of tuning. Born out of a need to fit wider tires on race dedicated vehicles, a fiberglass kit was devised to provide the 924 Turbo a bit more wiggle room for larger rubber and in the process, giving it a bit more of an aggressive stance. Brian, a long-time contributor of ours, came across this 1981 Porsche 924 Turbo for sale in the Philadelphia area wears that very kit devised by Holbert. While not concours quality, this is a driver that wears a very nice patina and has a bit of that Martini Racing livery we all know and love.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Porsche 924 Turbo Holbert Racing Superwide on Pelican Parts
For those of you who read GCFSB daily, you are no doubt familiar with the E30 BMW M3. In the last few years, this DTM car for the street has seen a steep rise in price, especially in light of the fact that the M3 badge was retired for the two-door, 3 series M car. The first M3 was a very different beast from its 3 series brethren, with a race-bred 2.3 liter twin cam four cylinder engine, bespoke bodywork and upgraded brakes and suspension. While some prefer the power and torque of the six-cylinder E30s, there is something magical about driving a car that was strongly connected to its racing roots. This M3 for sale in Miami has slightly under 70,000 miles on the clock and had a respray a few years back.