When I was looking for an E46 M3 back in 2014, it wasn’t particularly hard to find one. However, if you wanted one of the launch colors of the M3 – Phoenix Yellow Metallic, which I wanted, or Laguna Seca Blue – pickings were much more slim. We’ve recently looked at a string of PYM cars, so I thought it was worth checking out a nice blue example. Like PYM, finding a stock, lower-mile one in good condition is now less difficult thanks to specialty sites like Bring a Trailer, but it’s not as if they roll by every minute now that they’re 20 years old. And when they do, hang on…pricing is usually quite high. Case in point – a 34,000 mile 2004 example sold late last year for $53,333.
Well, today’s car is an early model – a 2001 – which in theory is a little less desirable than the post-LCI cars. But it’s stock, it’s in great shape, it’s a manual, and it’s got less than half the mileage of the example I just linked. The price? Well, let’s just say put the coffee down.
My wife and I had a rather amusing conversation recently. “How much does a new 911 cost”, she asked. Now typically I know questions like this are leading somewhere and she’s not a huge Porsche fan, so after some inquiry she asked why examples from the 80s and 90s are trading for the price of a new car. After I likened the Porsche 911 market to the Tulip craze, she said two really funny things. First, she said “Let’s not base our economy on it!”, something that got me laughing. Then she said that if it was so popular, why were manufacturers like Porsche building new examples of their old cars? The answer, as we discussed, was that it just wouldn’t be profitable. Though limited run manufacturers such as Singer and Eagle have seen success building “new” old cars, the reality is that between making cars safe enough and economical enough to meet today’s standards, they’d be heavy and slow – necessitating even more power, which would raise the price. Take the GT86/FR-S/BRZ clones; while critics have loved their handling and prices have been kept reasonable, they’re generally referred to as “slow” cars with 200 horsepower and 2,700lbs of curb weight – nearly identical to what the 1988 Porsche Carrera was specified at.
However, there are options outside of the 911 market for a personal sports 2-door that throwback to simpler times, and I think the M Coupe was one of the best. With a gutsy inline-6 up front, rear drive and a 6-speed manual, the E86 was a classic blueprint for a sports car. But it was modern at the same time, with over 300 horsepower from the sonorous S54 M motor and a thoroughly modern design. It was also a relatively limited run vehicle, meaning they’re rare to see. Yet, despite this they’re still relatively affordable as a not-particularly-old future classic that can be driven and enjoyed – and will likely appreciate, though…there’s a caveat to this particular one:
I’m not done with M3s yet! I get that the wild colors offered by BMW on the E46 M3 don’t appeal to everyone, and I’m aware they tend to be the colors I focus on. What’s special about them to me is that they exist at all; you don’t have to agree that they’re the colors you’d buy, but isn’t the world a better place for them having been made? While getting into any M car is a special experience, by the time of the E36 and E46 M3s production numbers meant they were reasonably common. With over 71,000 E36s made and over 85,000 E46s produced, odds of you seeing another going down the road are a lot better than they were with the original Ms. To me, Phoenix Yellow and Laguna Seca Blue are two of the best ways to differentiate your M experience from the norm. Today, there’s a lovely example of the latter available on eBay:
Speaking generally, there aren’t too many new cars that cross the pages of this site. It’s even somewhat rare for us to breach the decade-old mark; that’s the point where really nice used examples of our favorites start to become hard to locate. And, frankly since anyone can walk into a dealership, sign a few papers and walk out a lot lighter but with any specification car they can afford, the older metal is typically what draws our (and, hopefully, your) interest.
But once in a while something pretty special comes along, from a 911R to this car. The fifth generation F80 M3 has taken a huge leap forward in complexity, technology and performance. The S55 twin-turbocharged inline-6 is an absolute tower of power; while ultimate horses didn’t increase much version the E9x S65 V8 (425 versus 414), the torque was the big news. It was in part the final number – 410 lb ft., up an amazing 90 over the V8, but it was also the reality of when you could use that torque. The S65 developed peak twist at just shy of 4,000 rpms; the S55 does it at 1,850. Not only that, but the torque curve is billiard table flat until 5,500 rpm. The result, despite the heavy weight stature of the new gigantic F80, is astonishing speed.
By itself, the F80 M3 is a force to be reckoned with. However, this particular M3 is just that bit more special, as it was handed over the group at BMW Individual and painted in E46-signature Laguna Seca Blue:
EDIT 8/10/2017 – IT’S BACK! Now with a $58,900 asking price, according to Hunting Ridge Motor’s site. With prices on the rise when the right combinations appear on these E46s, it will be interesting to see when and what amount it finally sells for.
EDIT 7/25/2014: with a few well placed seeds and some research, it appears that this car is the same one as the 10,000 mile M3 I wrote up in May here. That makes the asking price and modifications all the more puzzling. Thanks for the interest and sorry that I didn’t catch it the first time around!
What is the price for perfection? What would you be willing to pay for a brand new example of the car you love? There are certainly a lot of people who love the E46 M3 including me. I really think it was a high point of design for BMW; those sweeping arches, the delicate lines in the hood, the hunched, angry stance – it’s perfect, and best of all, it’s relatively affordable still. But many have already begun to fall into disrepair, and of course when you’re buying an older car you’re subject to what comes to market and managing repairs, restoration and asking price. But what if the car was effectively brand new? Chances are everyone would say “Sign me up!”, especially if that car was in one of the most sought after color combinations. They would, that is, until they saw the price tag:
There’s an entire sub-culture of automobile enthusiasts that MUST have everything wagon. And for those people, there have long been many options to choose from – expect recently. Since the 2000s, the number of wagons available to U.S. fans has dropped off a cliff so that today precious few are left. I detailed what I felt was the height of the market last year over at The Truth About Cars.
Today, enter the marketplace and there are very few options left. The staple Audi A6 and BMW 5-series wagons have left the market, as has the regular A4. Sure, today you can finally get an all-wheel drive Golf Sportwagon that was promised for so long, but outside of that, you’re left really with the Allroad, the expensive and numb (but potentially ridiculously quick) Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon, or the BMW 3-series.
Options for the 3-series have dwindled as well as the price has increased. From rear-or-all-wheel drive a few years ago with multiple engine options, only two remain – you have a choice or gas, or diesel. The Sports Wagon has gotten pretty ridiculously expensive, too – starting at $43,000, it’s not hard to break $60,000 when you start to add options (which you’ll see below). Even more ridiculousl is the naming convention, to the point of I’m not sure what the word order is in the title of these cars anymore. Seriously, consider our first example – the “2017 BMW 330i xDrive Sports Wagon M-Sport Individual”. Or was Individual first? Or M-Sport second?
Nevertheless, these wagons remain popular among sport-minded German car freaks who need to carry more than just themselves. Today I have two interesting blue options to consider – one a special-ordered Individual in Laguna Seca that is brand spanking new, or a lightly used Estoril Blue Metallic example. Which is the one to have?
Though I’ve quite happily entered into M3 ownership and don’t regret my choice, I still keep my eye on where similar examples trade for. Just last week an Interlagos Blue ZCP came to the attention of both Dan and I and sold for just below $20,000 – not bad, but the car had quite a few miles and no major services completed and some unoriginal changes, such as darkened wheels. There was another that I was following at the same time – this earlier 2001 example. While not a ZCP, this 2001 had the later look with updated wheels and taillights, plus a CSL trunk. The condition also looks generally a bit better and it has lower miles, but is also missing most of the major maintenance these cars can require. Still, there’s the big draw – that amazing Laguna Seca Blue exterior, this one hiding a rare Gray interior. It was my second color combination choice, and worth a look:
Welcome back to Friday Fail, our opportunity to provide your Friday with a little more levity as you obsessively refresh your blog roll and count the minutes until the weekend is here. My favorite target for FF is misleading or misinformed sellers, but today we’ll just focus on what looks to be a pretty serious basket case of an E31.
This Friday Fail is quite a head turner due to its repaint in the E46 fan-boy favorite Laguna Seca Blue, a color whose only claim to fame is being obnoxiously bright and having the aforementioned ALL CAPS INTERNET DEVOTEES. Bright colors certainly have their place, but I’ll take Estoril over LSB ten times out of ten. A bright-ass exterior and reasonably low 117k miles appear to be the only high points here. Despite reportedly being “babied and well taken care of,” this 840Ci looks pretty piggy once you get past the lipstick. The interior is beat save the brand new suede headliner(!?), yet the seller gives it 8/10. It should automatically lose an extra 3 points due to that ugly sliding gear selector. The engine bay looks like someone scrubbed it with dirt and shot it with a bb gun. Apparently it has new front suspension and a RACING RADIATOR FAN because Laguna Seca is a race track.
I like the E31 and I don’t actually hate Laguna Seca Blue, but I can’t think of any situation in which I would buy this LSB E31.
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:
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.