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A familiar face popped into my usual searches this week. It was a 2001 BMW M3 in Laguna Seca Blue. What stood out immediately were the wheels (okay, and the color); BBS CH and near faultless condition throughout pointed towards the example I looked at twice in 2014. Three years later, it’s still for sale and though the price has dropped, the seller is still looking for the best part of $60,000.
In the future, that price may not seem quite that outrageous. After all, finding a perfect condition, 10,000 mile M3 in one of the two signature colors isn’t something you come across everyday, right?
For some time I’ve talked about how I’d really like to get an E46 M3. I still remember well when the M3 launched; it felt as if a giant weight had been lifted from the collective shoulders of those who complained that the E36 was too watered down for the American market. Under the hood lurked the high-revving S54 3.2 inline-6, replete with individual throttle bodies. It was a return to form for BMW M, who managed to squeeze over 330 horsepower from that engine. In the world of racing cars, before 2000 it was considered to be quite good if you could make 100 horsepower from a normally aspirated liter; but Honda and BMW both left countless engine builders shaking their heads in disbelief as they were able to best that feat while retaining day to day drive-ability, longevity and a warranty. Outside, BMW stepped up the game to make the M3 stand out a bit more than the E36 had. Like its predecessor, the E46 had revised and deeper front and rear bumper covers, but the M3 added some venting behind the front wheels and some quite sexy rear flares and wide tires, along with four exhaust pipes. It was as if someone had taken the better styling ques from the M roadster and M3 and combined them. Then, there were the colors – Laguna Seca Blue has proven to be a fan favorite, but I always loved Dakar Yellow. So, I was quite excited to get a poster when new of the color that personified the rebirth of the M3 – named Phoenix Yellow – with the tag line “Okay, a Ph.D is pretty impressive, too”:
Yes, here I am writing up another Phoenix Yellow M3. Although I seem to be the only one who likes this color, the E46 is still considered one of the last true “M” cars by enthusiasts across the board. I find this feeling a little silly; the argument that BMW “sold its soul” after the E46 and E39 M cars just doesn’t hold much weight, in my opinion. They’ve always been there to sell cars, and while the engineering has changed the result – cars that define their respective categories – hasn’t changed much no matter what the engine is or how many were produced. Indeed, one could argue that the neutered E36 M3 that BMW sent to the United States was as much a signal of the “end” of the “true” M cars as any. But it’s all opinion based upon what you own, and none of it really matters, honestly. M cars will be cherished by their owners no matter what generation or platform, and I’d like to cherish this one:
It’s been a while since I posted the last Phoenix Yellow M3, a car which I strongly desire. I was reminded of how great this…
Edit: This car sold pretty quickly for the $14,950 asking price. Stay tuned for the next one! In close competition with the Porsche 968 for…