While there wasn’t much of a contest between the E28 M5 and E34 535i, by the end of the E34 run the 540i M Sport was – for all intents and purposes – a M5 without the S38. BMW upped the ante to 400 horsepower in the new E39 M5, once again widening the gap to the 540i model. But the successor E60 545i offered 330 horsepower with matching torque in 2003 alongside the outgoing E39 and once again the gap in performance became much smaller. That gap was made almost impercievable in 2005, when BMW revised the E60 with the increased displacement in the N62 motor. Now sporting 4.8 liters from the N62B48, the new “550i” now had 360 horsepower and 361 lb.ft of torque – a much better match for the S62. What was perhaps more amazing was that the new N62 also nearly matched the torque of the new E60 M5’s S85 V10. But while that screaming V10 produced far more horsepower, the peak torque was reached only at 6,100 revolutions – hardly practical in your daily commute. In comparison, peak twist on the N62 came at a much more realistic 3,400 r.p.m.s, and on the fly these 550is were – and still are – seriously quick sedans. They also introduced the next generation of design language and computer technology into the 5-series. Some love the look while others lambaste the design. While it’s certainly not my favorite 5, at least it’s distinctive and different in a world full of cookie-cutter designs and dare I say I think it may look better today than it did new – perhaps a testament to its avant garde lines. While the lust-worthy V10 captures the imagination of enthusiasts, day to day the 550i is likely as fast 95% of the time and much cheaper to get into and run. The thing is, is this the one to get?
Nate’s look at the E34 and E39 Dinan M5s over the past week is a poignant reminder of the factory-backed performance available in these super sedans. In the best style of “Q-Ships” – World War II merchant ships that hid surprising armament behind their docile exterior – they’re turned up but never outrageous. When it came to the E60 chassis though, with 500 horsepower on tap how did one increase the already world-beating performance? In Dinan’s case, there was no replacement for displacement, as they punched out the 5 liter V10 to 5.8 liters. The result was an additional 100 horsepower and around 80 lb.ft more torque while still maintaining the stratospheric redline. Yet that insane performance was available in a wrapper which looked no different than a standard M5:
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!
The below post originally appeared on our site May 21, 2014:
The E46 BMW M3 is a car loved by many enthusiasts but it always seems to me that the love is anything but unconditional. During its six year production run the third generation M3 had its fair share of issues that have led to it being a very divisive car. Many swear that these cars are the pinnacle of BMW engineering before they lost their way, others point to them as a prime example of what happens when a community is in denial. Honestly I don’t fall into either camp, but I can see how both sides would have a valid argument. On the one hand these cars can be your ticket to having insane amounts of naturally aspirated fun and on the other they can drain your savings account faster than a fantasy sports gambling site. As with any used vehicle there are specific years and specific issues you need to look out for: VANOS failure, cracking rear subframes, snapping rear springs and of course the whole SMG unit. Most of these issues affected all years of the E46 M3 but if you got your hands on a manual you could avoid that final one all together. However, there was one particular model that I think warrants consideration despite it being saddled with BMW’s fancy manumatic transmission, the M3 ZCP.
While engine swaps on BMWs seem downright commonplace, there are the normal engine swaps (the well played out S50/52 comes to mind) and then there’s Hartge. The history between the two premier BMW tuning firms in Germany – Alpina and Hartge – is interesting. They’ve vied for the top spot for several decades with slightly different design philosophies. During that time, they’ve also seemingly flip-flopped; originally, Hartge took a more conservative route than Alpina, whose wild turbocharged creations challenged BMW’s own offerings. But after they were granted full manufacturer status in Germany in 1985, Hartge really came into its own and hasn’t looked back since. While like many firms they offer a line of aerodynamic tweats, wheels, exhausts and engine management chips, their party-piece is taking motors from the larger BMWs and popping them into the 3-series models. None of these conversions is more notable than the E90 H50 though. While the E46 H50 took the V8 out of the 5 series, the E90 had a V8 available in the lineup in the M3. Hartge therefore moved up the food chain to the E60 M5’s S85 V10. With a staggering 500 horspower out of the box and even 50 more with Hartge’s tuning, they transformed the rather mundane small executive sedan into a supercar:
I think I like the new F10 M5. Despite the technology overload and a severe distaste for the sound-reproduction technology, any time I see one pass I dream of slapping on an exhaust that makes electronics unnecessary and letting the twin-turbo V8 do its thing – spinning tires. When the E60 M5 came out in 2005, I didn’t really get into it. The styling didn’t do much to improve the E60’s ugly genes, and all accounts seemed to find the SMG and V10 interesting at best, confused and pointless at worst. But now, as I see them ignored in parking spots, a few years removed from being the king of the hill, I see many parallels to the E28 M5 I hold so dear. The engine is motorsport-derived and batcrap crazy. It’s certainly a Bahn-stormer, and flies under the radar of most. The owner of today’s M5 must have some appreciation for the E28’s only-black US availability, as they have endeavored to completely black it out. The real headline here, though, is the fact that regardless of where your M5 affinities lie, there’s no question that low-$20s for a 500hp V10 is a silly performance deal.
In many popular women’s magazines there are style sections in which two celebrities are shown wearing the same dress with the simple question “who wore it better”? Often it’s quite obvious; one of the celebrities is as you’d expect – glamorous, perfectly polished and just out of the gym. The opposing look is typically a tad overweight, over jeweled, looking like the subject in question has just been out on the town for the 43 consecutive night with minimal personal hygiene. Looking through cars this week, I was reminded to this comparison when I ran across two yellow M3 convertibles. Both E46, both 2004 – same motor and interior, with light modifications; but there is where they separate. The first is a manual BMW Individual Dakar Yellow example, while the second is a SMG-equipped Phoenix Yellow example. Which wears the yellow shade better?
It’s been a great week for rare-toned E46 M3s, and the Estoril Blue special order model that I wrote up last October is back up for sale. With the addition of only 330 miles since we last saw it and now for $1,000 less, the only drawback I see here is the SMG transmission and that the seller still doesn’t know the proper name for the color. For $16,500 this car certainly looks like a great deal for the right buyer!
The below post originally appeared on our site October 22, 2013:
Last week’s M3 v. S4 10K showdown wasn’t particularly a success, I’ll admit. No one wanted the question marks behind those two modified cars that were arguably overprice and too-high mileage. I’m back today with another duo, and as always I’ve tried to spice it up a bit. Today we’re going to look at a E36 M3 Sedan versus a E46 M3 Convertible. No brainer? Ah, but the sedan has an automatic and is the semi-polarizing Techno Violet. Not to let the E46 run away with things either, the E46 is the less-desirable convertible with the less-desirable SMG transmission with many, many more miles. Yet, they’re offered around the same price, which begs the question “Which would you choose”? Let’s look at the sedan first:
If there’s one thing that I really love it’s rare colors of already unique cars. I’m not even sure why the rare colors appeal to me so much, but I just love seeing neat German rides in something other than silver, white or black. In the case of the E46 M3, that means my favorite by far is Phoenix Yellow, but that’s not the most rare color on E46 M3s. No, there were some individuals who decided that the color pallet offered by BMW just wasn’t enough; this particular M3 was specified by the owner in the E36 shade of Estoril Blue. Original idea? Well, not really, but boy the results are good. Take a look at this Easter Egg:
Engine: 3.2 liter inline-6
Transmission: 6-speed SMG automatic
Mileage: 77,021 mi
Price: $17,500 Buy It Now
EXCELLENT CONDITION, GARAGED AND PAMPERED. VERY UNIQUE SPECIAL ORDER STARE BLUE COLOR, 19′ CSL WHEELS. VERY STRONG! SOUNDS AMAZING AND TURNS HEADS EVERYWHERE YOU GO!
CALL JOHN WITH ANY QUESTIONS 305-303-0037
Why you would go through the effort of buying the beautiful BBS CSL 19″ wheels and painting them dirty is beyond me, but like so many other things, it’s not all about me. I’d immediately refinish those gems back to the original silver as I think it would fit the car a little better. This car was mildly modified with exhaust and some blackouts, and looks to have Alcantara seats. Luckily for my bank account, it also has the SMG transmission which rules it out of ownership for me, but if you’re interested in a track ride this could be a good deal. At $17,500 with 77,000 miles it seems pretty appropriately priced and would set you apart from the rest of the E46 M3 crowd!