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Soft Top or Hard Top? 2005 BMW M3 Convertible vs. 2008 BMW M3 Convertible

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This post is in our archives. Links in this post may have been updated to point to similar cars available to bid on eBay.

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The M3 Convertible. A rather curious beast, no? Especially if one considers the M3’s original purpose of a tool by which to dominate DTM racing. However, there has been a drop top version of every M3 since the original E30, even if we didn’t see that one officially on US shores. With the change in nomenclature, we now have the M4 convertible to compliment the M4 coupe and M3 sedan. Each new iteration has debuted more powerful engines, advanced gearboxes and we even saw a new folding hardtop on the E93 M3, carried over to the M4.

These two M3s are for sale in New York and represent a definite split in approach to the fast convertible formula. First up, we’ll take a look at this 2005 E46 M3, which is armed with the rev-happy S54 inline-6 under the hood that everyone knows and loves mated to a good old row-your-own 6-speed manual.

Click for details: 2005 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay

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Year: 2005
Model: M3 Convertible
Engine: 3.2 liter inline-6
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 36,000 mi
Price: Reserve auction

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This is a very special car, M3s are the best daily-drivable performance sports car available bar none. Bound to be a future classic, the E46 M3 will represent the last of the legendary naturally aspirated 6-cyl M3s.

This particular example has had only two owners and covered just 36k miles since new. Beautiful and rare Mystic Blue over Cinnamon Interior. Highly optioned from the factory with tasteful upgrades including;

Factory Options
“Code Optional Equipment”
S1CAA Selection of COP relevant vehicles
S261A Side airbags for rear passengers
S388A Softtop, black
S441A Smoker package
S464A Ski bag
S473A Armrest front
S494A Seat heating driver/passenger
S502A Headlight cleaning system
S521A Rain sensor
S522A Xenon Light
S639A Preparation f mobile phone cpl. USA/CDN
S650A CD player
S674A Hi-Fi System Harman Kardon
S692A Preparation, BMW 6-CD changer I-bus
S818A Battery master switch
S8SPA Control unit COP
S925A Transport protection package

Upgrades
– Stoptech Big Brakes Upfront
– X-Pipe
– Short Shifter
– Full Intergrated ‘Passport’ Radar detector and jammer
– Genuine BMW car cover

Fully serviced and maintained at BMW, the car was just gone through fully and given a clean bill of health. Both keys, manuals, BMW mats etc. Almost new Michelins all around Pics don’t do the car the justice it deserves, Must be seen and driven in person to be appreciated. Clean Title. No major scratches / dents / smells / stains. Inspections welcome!! I can help with shipping anywhere in the Continental U.S / Worldwide, very affordable rates. Call / TXT / Email for more info or if you would like to make a deal now. May consider trades for a Sportbike or something Sporty / Exotic / German. Car is for sale locally so I reserve the right to end the auction early ……….. Thanks, Zac – 646 331 8224

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I think for many, the E46 M3 is all things sports car to a wide swath of car enthusiasts. It’s certainly fast, relatively low-key in terms of design and isn’t lacking for passenger and cargo space, making it a great sleeper for your jaunts. The power of depreciation has brought these cars to within reach of those on an Accord-sized budget, however, servicing is always anything but. Find a good one like this, however, and you should be able to enjoy some trouble free miles. The SMG gearbox that found its way into some E46 M3s is not well regarded, so the 6-speed manual in this example certainly helps the case against opting for the two-door hardtop equipped with one, for some. Whatever the case may be, you’ll be able to hear that sonorous exhaust note even more clearly on those warm days with the top down.

Next up, we’ll take a look at the E46 M3 Convertible’s replacement, the E93 M3 Convertible. This car was a real game changer for the entire M3 range, as we saw the switch from an inline-6 to a V8 under the hood. Even more revolutionary was the folding hardtop on the convertible variant we see here. This particular M3 Convertible has the 7-speed DCT automatic which was a massive leap forward over the SMG gearbox.

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Click for details: 2008 BMW M3 Convertible on eBay

Year: 2008
Model: M3 Convertible
Engine: 4.0 liter V8
Transmission: 7-speed DCT automatic
Mileage: 61,800 mi
Price: $32,195 Buy It Now

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This is a very Special car, the best daily-drivable performance sports car available bar none. Bound to be a future classic, the E9x M3 will represent the last of the legendary naturally aspirated M3s and the only V8 in its 27-year history. A fantastic chassis, compliant enough to handle real-world roads, yet purposeful enough to hold the corners, with loads of power and racing pedigree to pull you thru.

This particular example is a has only two owners and has done just 62k miles. Highly optioned including;

– DCT Transmission
– Adaptive Headlights
– Navigation
– EDC
– Comfort Access
– Tech Package
– Satellite
– Carbon Weave Leather Trim
– Leather Power Seats
– ZCP Competition Package Wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Tires

Fully serviced and maintained at BMW, the car was just gone through fully and given a clean bill of health. Both keys, manuals, BMW mats etc. Pics don’t do the car the justice it deserves, Must be seen and driven in person to be appreciated. Clean Title. No major scratches / dents / smells / stains. Only minor curb rash on two wheels. Inspections welcome!! I can help with shipping anywhere in the Continental U.S / Worldwide, very affordable rates. Call / TXT / Email for more info or if you would like to make a deal now. May consider trades for a Sportbike or something Sporty / Exotic / German. Car is for sale locally so I reserve the right to end the auction early ……….. Thanks, Zac – 646 331 8224

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Given my proclivity towards three pedal cars, it probably is obvious which one I’d choose. However, I think I’d have to go for the 2008 M3 over the 2005 example. The DCT transmission cleared up a lot of the gripes that owners had with BMW’s SMG gearbox. Also, if I was forced to have a drop top M3, I’m already at a weight disadvantage over the coupe. Given the newer M3 has a V8, there’s plenty of poke to make up for the weight of the folding hardtop. So readers, which one would you choose?

-Paul

5 Comments

  1. Scott J.
    Scott J. December 16, 2014

    I have a 2004 M3 convertible. I gave up motorcycles a few years ago and the convertible was a nice substitute. Fantastic engine sounds with top down, quiet with top up, and comfortable for longer trips. It even averages 22 mpg in mixed driving. It has been bullet-proof reliable and routine maintenance really isn’t that bad. More than an Accord (especially the 10W-60 oil) but I can do just about all of the maintenance with basic tools. Glad it has a 6-speed manual even if the shifter is a bit notchy. Maybe it’s time for a newer shift kit.

  2. MDriver
    MDriver December 16, 2014

    “last of the naturally aspirated inline 6 M3’s”….gotta love Hyperbole of dealers….
    that said…this is my neighbors car…well not this one here but its twin…Mystic Blue/Cinnamon interior
    same dealer for both cars?? the E93 is was overpriced for the miles…and the DCT in 08 needed a software upgrade because of jerky shifting…make sure the SO is not open

  3. Ry
    Ry December 16, 2014

    I’m not really a vert guy, but I like both of these color combos, esp the first.

    @Mdriver – what’s the “SO”? I’m normally decent with acronyms and hate getting stumped!

  4. Vic
    Vic December 17, 2014

    Having put 80K miles on an E46 M3 convertible I can say that it truly has been the best of both worlds, a decathlete that can easily get 24 mpg on the way to work (I have an easy drive) but can continue to impress with 160+ top end and incredible handling. Maintenance costs have been relatively kind averaging $2K/year/15K miles. Weak spot for me has been the inside liner of the convertible roof which started to tear (use it twice a day, every day, 5 days a week) and had to be replaced for $2K. Now three years later I can see that it has reached its half life again. I wonder what costs will be associated with the hard top roofs? They will probably hold up better to routine wear and tear but I am concerned about maintaining the mechanicals after 500 cycles/year.

  5. Carter
    Carter December 18, 2014

    That Cinnamon interior may be just the answer for what my Phoenix Yellow E46 M3 will need.

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