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The E46 M3 is a car that truly needs no introduction which is nice because I can get right down to brass tacks. The market for this car is a very curious one to follow. On one end of the spectrum you have high mileage examples with aftermarket parts and evidence of having spent many a weekend at the track. These cars are tempting for many an enthusiast who has always dreamed of hunting apexes with a high revving inline six and doing so with a bit of style. At the other end of the spectrum you have cars like this one that are very clean and are either stock or have been modified with OEM approved parts. These examples come at a premium and I’d say that’s fair given how desirable these cars are when well taken care of.
Having covered only 48,000 miles in 11 years on the road, this particular M3 appears to be in fantastic condition. The Carbon Black over Cinnamon Leather combination is a very sharp look for this car, classier than the usual Silver or Grey over Black. I drove an Emerald Green over Cinnamon Leather model earlier this week but the leather had been poorly cared for and had cracked badly in many places. However even in that rough condition, that interiorÂ really made it stand out in a sea of other postings, so much so that I drove an hour to go see it. Makes me appreciate the fine job this owner has done maintaining these seats and the interior overall. Almost completely makes up forÂ the bird poop damage on the roof.
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?
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?
This week we’re taking a moment to begin introducing theme weeks to the blog, and to get us started we’re featuring the fabulous e39 M5.…