Motorsports Monday: 2004 BMW M3

Part of my logic for wanting an E46 M3 has been to have a dual-purpose car; one that I can drive in comfort 9.5 out of 10 days, but can take to the track on an occasional weekend and have fun approaching the limit. Few cars achieve the balance of both comfortable road car and formidable track weapon quite as well out of the box as the M3 does, and for some time it was the defacto track-addict car. Truth told, since the early 2000s many more track-focused cars have emerged and even eclipsed the M3 in both purpose and execution. But the M3 remains at the forefront of most enthusiast’s minds as a capable platform, and the E46 has channeled the last of the analogue platforms into a package that many want to upgrade. The result, if you’re willing to put in some time and money, can be a Porsche killing coupe on a more reasonable budget.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 on eBay

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2002 BMW M Roadster

A few weekends back I took a ride out into the hills of Connecticut to check out the inventory at Coventry Motorcar. It’s always worth the trip, because though on the grand scale they’re a small dealer they’ve always got some very interesting second-hand cars that you just don’t normally see gathered together at one spot anymore. Like a European-only car show, there were Porsches, BMWs, and of course Audis lining the lot. A cool Volvo C30 T5 stood out, along with a lineup of M3s as my search for a nice one continues. But the car that really grabbed my attention was a M Roadster. It wasn’t a case of the color being outstanding in this case; while some wild combinations were available on the M Roadster, Titanium Silver Metallic was the most popular option, and within that color the Black Nappa Leather was the most common interior. According to the M Roadster Buyer’s Guide, there were some 1,562 (15% of total production) ordered in Titanium, with the majority of those at 1,134 having the black interior. In fact, nearly half of all M Roadsters had all black interiors, amazingly – since it seems the really wild colors are the ones that stand out in my mind. But something else struck me as really special as soon as I saw the date; a 2002 would make it the rarest year of the M Roadster, with only 643 sold. That’s nice, but what’s nicer is what that means under the hood – the full bore, 315 horsepower S54 motivating the small roadster.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M Roadster at Coventry Motorcar

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2001 BMW M Coupe

The BMW M Coupe is a perennial favorite of ours here at GCFSB and for good reason! It follows a tried and true formula to produce an enthusiast’s dream: take a small car, in this case a roadster with the addition of a fixed roof, throw a wonderful engine in the front, and mate that to a manual transmission delivering power through the rear wheels. The results were tremendous. The original M Coupe always has possessed something more. It’s shape – typically referred to as a shooting brake, though lovingly also called a clown shoe – gave it an additional character that produced a delightful synergy between the car’s performance and its appearance. It’s never really been considered pretty, it’s almost over-the-top muscular and bulging, but it has a purposeful aggressive look that is no-nonsense and, dare I say, energetic. There is just no mistaking the purpose of the M Coupe and they truly are wonderful examples for enthusiasts to enjoy. With the additional power of the S54 engine they have become incredibly desirable. Here we have just such a beast: a Black over Tan 2001 BMW M Coupe, located in Chicago, with 67,652 miles on it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M Coupe on eBay

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2007 BMW M Coupe

Something interesting is occurring in the BMW world. As the E36/8 M Coupe skyrockets in value and collectability – especially the very limited S54 versions – for some reason, it’s successor isn’t. Now, both generations of M Coupes and Roadsters are love it or hate it designs, but the early cars – even though stylistically they have some typical 90s weak spots. Those fender vents, for example, have become a cliche stick-on applique to all the best ‘hood Accords and Maximas. To me, the replacement for the Z3 was edgier but more handsome. It still looks modern and honestly I think it could reasonably still fit into the design language of the current BMWs. The M Coupe managed to escape the period which many enthusiasts characterized as the worst styling period for BMW as the Belle of the Ball. And the layout and drivetrain wasn’t updated, instead running the end of the run naturally aspirated screamer S54 through a manual gearbox and driving only the rear wheels. Only some 1,800 of them were imported to the U.S., too – guaranteeing their exclusivity, they seemed to be a natural collector status BMW right out of the box. But for many more, the E86 M Coupe was more classic GT sports car than the bread delivery van styling of E36/8. Throw in a similarly love it or hate it rare color like Laguna Seca Blue, and you’ve got either a travesty against automobiledom or a car with serious collector potential:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW M Coupe on Craigslist

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2002 BMW M Coupe

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After seeing the sweet deal on the Canadian BMW M Roadster, I got all S54-loopy and started looking at clownshoes. This is a dangerous hole for me, as it’s still one of the few cars (the E39 M5 being the other) that I pass on the street and think “hmm… that’s almost cool enough to supplant the E28 M5…” While the roadster was a steal for roughly $20k with just over 30k miles, this seller is capitalizing on the double-rare hot stuff that is the final-year, S54-powered ///M shooting brake. 50k miles is still quite low, but they’re asking almost twice the price of the Canuck. What do you think… down payment on a future classic, or speculative lunacy?

Click for details: 2002 BMW M Coupe on eBay

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2001 BMW M Roadster

$_27

The BMW S54 engine is right up there in a long line of wonderful inline sixes from BMW, marking a large step forward from its predecessor, the S52. While the S52 provided great sound and smoothness, it lacked the brute force that other great BMW engines have shared. The S54 brought an extra 75 (!!!) horsepower to table, an increase of over 30%, for the last two years of the E36/7 and E36/8’s lives. This one comes claims to come with an extra 30, matching the power of the E46 M3 – not bad when you’re carrying several hundred fewer pounds. The clownshoe may be the funkier of the pair, but the M Coupe keeps all the drop-top fun of the Z3 while losing most of the hit to the self-esteem via some swollen fenders, quad pipes, and serious power. Like an 18 year-old jumping the border to drink, you can hop to Canada for some cheap thrills with this classic silver example, coming with fewer miles and priced a good $5k less than the nicest US examples. And according to the ad, it’s the ONLY example sold in Canada with headlight washers! That’s gotta do something for the rarity-resale value down the road, right?!

Click for details: 2001 BMW M Roadster on Kijiji.ca

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2001 BMW M Coupe

It might not have seemed so at the time, but if there was ever a car produced with the enthusiast squarely in mind, it was the BMW M Coupe. This lithe sports car only got better with age, with BMW dropping the newly developed S54 inline-6 that would see duty in the E46 M3. Just over 1,100 M Coupes with this engine were produced for 2001 and 2002, making them one of the most highly sought after BMWs of recent memory. This 2001 M Coupe for sale in California is a minter, with less than 40,000 miles on the odometer. This car was sold in 2011 by that famous purveyor of some of the finest Bavarian machinery, Enthusiast Auto Group.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M Coupe on eBay

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2002 BMW M3 with 10,000 Miles

As my search for “the perfect” E46 M3 continues, this example popped on to my radar screen. Why? Well, for most intents and purposes, it’s “perfect”. With only 10,051 miles on the odometer, it’s one of the lowest mileage E46s anywhere. Condition is near perfect. It’s a 6-speed manual. It’s a coupe. These are all on the must-have list for what I’m considering; that brings us to color. On the inside is N5TT – Grey Nappa Leather. I’m still with you, as I don’t like the all-black interiors on these E46s. Outside is 405 – Imola Red II, a pleasingly blue-red shade that sets the car apart from the normal silvers and blacks that M3s all-too often appear in. Okay, Imola isn’t my favorite color, but when you’re talking about low-mileage 13 year old cars in basically new condition, it’s not as if there’s a huge pool to select from:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M3 on eBay

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2004 BMW M3 Convertible

As a fan of older Audis and Volkswagens, I’m envious of the BMW market – but not for the reason that probably many BMW enthusiasts believe other people are envious of them. I’m envious simply because, like with the Porsche 911 market, any day of the week you can select the model you like – right through the 1970s – and you’ll have multiple excellent or very good examples to choose from. That’s something that simply doesn’t occur in the VAG market; indeed, even finding really excellent examples of 10-15 year old Audis is now a feat. But if you’re a fan of the M3, you can be assured that you won’t have to wait long for a really great example to pop up. Recent posts about the E36 have brought up that the North American model wasn’t really up to M snuff in many ways, and to solve that problem BMW upped the ante with the E46 M3; a snarling, 330 horsepower naturally aspirated inline-6 in its ultimate S54 form lay under the hood and, while track addicts rejoiced in the quick-shifting SMG transmission, today most people in the market are looking for the 6-speed manual that offers a closer connection to the driving experience and arguably lower repair bills. And while, as a New England resident, I’m on the hunt for a coupe, were I in a warmer climate I can certainly see the appeal of a convertible:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 Convertible on TradeNetAuto

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2004 BMW M3 Individual – REVISIT

The search for what I’d consider to be the ideal M3 continues; my bank account may not reflect it, but I’m one year closer to E46 ownership – at least, in theory. And for those of you who follow my posts, that means my pool of candidates is reduced to something in a shouty color. So when this BMW Individual Dakar Yellow M3 popped up, it seemed to fit the criteria of cars I’d drool over – but at the same time, it looked familiar. Sure enough, last May I wrote this very car up. It’s pretty unique outside of the special shade, as a “slicktop” with no sunroof and with very low miles (less than 500 accrued since last May), this is a neat package. I like, too, that the seller has lowered the price to $28,500 and fitted some ZCP BBS wheels instead of the expensive but ugly (in my opinion) HRE wheels featured last time around. There are even better photos showing how vibrant the color is. The drawback? For me, still the SMG transmission is the one item that is the deal-breaker. Otherwise, though, this is one cool package!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 BMW M3 on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site May 21, 2014:

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