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      05-01-2019, 02:03 PM   #1
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10 Years of Driving Joy - Owners 10 Year Review of the E46 M3

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As far as cars go, there's so many different and unique offers that sometimes it's hard to find a truly standout car that checks all the boxes. Something that looks good and the beauty stands the test of time. Something that has a nice sound and a sublime steering feel. Something that has speed, road feel and is just exhilarating to drive. I have a lot of experiences with cars, and so I will detail my ownership experience of my 2001 E46 M3.



I first picked up my M3 10 years ago today on May 1st, 2009. Two weeks prior I had seen a posting on Auto Trader for a 2001 E46 M3, with a manual transmission, 19" style 63 wheels and 52k miles on the odometer. Prior to that I drove a Saab 9-3 and was only out of college for 2 years. I had wanted one since 2003, when some drives in my friends E46 330Ci turned me on to BMW. After some research, I was hooked and it became my "must-get" dream car.



After having a broker do some inspections and have the car shipped from San Francisco, my car arrived around 8 pm on May 1st, 2009. Why this date was important was because I wanted to have it in time for Bimmerfest that year which was on May 2nd, 2009. The next morning I met up with my best friend who had just gotten his 2009 E92 M3 a week earlier and we took our first drive up to Santa Barbara for Bimmerfest.



As far as performance car is concerned, the E46 is just about perfect and is one of the greatest driver's cars of all time, as evidence by how many times BMW has tried to re-make it over the years. The steering is precise, you point, it goes and it gets there at a rapid pace. The driving feel is raw and connected, as every part of you connects to the car and you drive with your whole body, not just with your hands. The chassis is perfectly balanced and the car still has a solidly timeless look. It's a simple, sleek and powerful design that's minimalistic yet beautiful that still looks stunning today. Wile not the most powerful car in the world, it has all the power it needs, and if you look at the price of a used one, it's a lot of car for the money. And this car demands that your driving skills are on par to get the most from it, but it's both friendly enough for beginners to learn on and advanced enough to be rewarding for seasoned racers. I've driven my car about town, pushed it in the canyons, and tracked it on several racetracks, the M3 is a weapon perfectly suited for all those purposes.



From an upkeep perspective, my M3 has been a great car to own. In 10 years the only major things that have been done are:

- Fix a subframe crack before the car was delivered to me
- VANOS recall was done by the previous owner
- Replaced the original battery (died in 2010 after 9 years)
- Replaced the power steering pump in 2012
- Replaced the cylinder coil packs in 2013
- Replaced the alternator 2 times
- Replaced the VANOS Solenoid
- Replaced the fuel pump in 2018
- Replaced the suspension/shocks in 2018 (after 17 years)
- Replaced the battery again in 2019 (after another 9 years)

Other than that, it's just been random odds an ends (like gaskets, etc.) and changing the oil, tires, and brakes.



I've driven just about everything under the sun, from Porsche's, McLaren's and Lamborghini's to AMG's, Porsche's, Maserati's and modern BMW M cars. The E46 M3 still feels special to drive and there are only a few cars I miss driving while in the M3 (the Lamborghini Aventador SV being one of the few...that's how good the E46 is). But for example when I was getting a bumper respray done I had a C7 Covrvette for 4 days. While it was fun, I missed my M3. Once I got my M3 back, I didn't give the Vette a 2nd thought, though the C7 is a fantastic car. Even when I went to Honda's test track to thrash the new 2018 NSX around, my M3 was more fun to drive on the way home.



A very special thank you and cheers to BMW for making such a special machine, to my guys at Mini Corsa for keeping my car running strong all these years, and to all the friends and fellow enthusiasts I've met and driven with over the last decade. The plan for my M3 remains the same as they did 10 years ago: Drive it until the wheels fall off, and then by some more wheels.



My Car's Stats:

Make: BMW

Model: E46 M3

Color: Laguna Seca Blue (still factory original paint except for the front and rear bumpers and hood which have been resprayed due to rock chips)

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Mileage when bought: 52,000

Present Mileage: 186,000

Name: Sonic



Personal Ranking of Top 3 Favorite Cars I've Driven:

1. 2017 Lamborghini Aventador SV
2. 2008 Porsche 997 GT3
3. 2001 BMW E46 M3



Some other car's driven/tracked for reference (by no means a complete list):

2016 McLaren 570S Spyder
2012 Ferrari 458 Italia
1994 Acura NSX
2005 Ferrari F430 Scuderia
2015 Lamborghini Hurcan LP610-4 Huracan Spyder
1994 Acura NSX
2017 BMW F82 M4 Competition Package
2003 Ferrari Enzo
2004 Porsche Carrera GT
2012 Maserati Gran Turismo MC Stradale
2016 Acura NSX
2017 BMW M2
2014 BMW F10 M5
2018 Porsche 991 911 Turbo S
2017 Lamborghini Aventador S
2015 Chevy C7 Corvette Z51 Package












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      05-01-2019, 02:13 PM   #2
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We need more pics like these on the website.

Never mind the cars, though --!
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      05-01-2019, 02:53 PM   #3
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Great pics and write up! Thanks!
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      05-01-2019, 02:54 PM   #4
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Excellent and well-articulated review! And those pictures.....definitely need more!
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      05-01-2019, 03:13 PM   #5
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I had an E46 M3 for ten years. Finally got rid of it because the up keep was getting too expensive.

I must say though, my M2 is a great improvement over the old M3. Much better acceleration, handling, and engine sound plus no $1,000 valve setting fees.
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      05-01-2019, 04:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanG View Post
I had an E46 M3 for ten years. Finally got rid of it because the up keep was getting too expensive.

I must say though, my M2 is a great improvement over the old M3. Much better acceleration, handling, and engine sound plus no $1,000 valve setting fees.
This.

I was thinking about getting an E46 M3 at one time until I heard about those valve setting fees. No thanks.
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      05-01-2019, 06:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfus Aurelius View Post
We need more pics like these on the website.

Never mind the cars, though --!
I have a ton more...I just didn't want the exceed the post bandwidth size

Quote:
Originally Posted by F30ZHP View Post
Great pics and write up! Thanks!
Cheers

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Libertine View Post
Excellent and well-articulated review! And those pictures.....definitely need more!
Many thanks, I'll post a few more below...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FBIZee View Post
great pics!


Quote:
Originally Posted by DanG View Post
I had an E46 M3 for ten years. Finally got rid of it because the up keep was getting too expensive.

I must say though, my M2 is a great improvement over the old M3. Much better acceleration, handling, and engine sound plus no $1,000 valve setting fees.
I can see that. I've been blessed that mine has remained strong *knock on wood. Do you have an M2 comp pack or an Gen 1 M2? I've driven the gen 1 M2, and while a solid car, driving it back to back against an M4 Comp pack and my E46 M3, I would have taken the M4 comp pack if if had to choose between the newer cars. I hear that the M2 comp pack adds a lot more to the already solid M2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by F30ZHP View Post
This.

I was thinking about getting an E46 M3 at one time until I heard about those valve setting fees. No thanks.
If you find a good indy shop it shouldn't run you that much. Though I say drive both back to back and then make your choice. To me, the E46 feels more dialed in than a gen 1 M2, though the M2 is light years ahead in the interior.


A few more pics:









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Last edited by Supercar Ace; 05-01-2019 at 06:51 PM..
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      05-02-2019, 04:16 PM   #8
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Glad to see you still have the e46 Josh...I've gone through a ton of cars since we've met lol. Hope to see you around!
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      05-03-2019, 03:40 AM   #9
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feeling one of the biggest regrets to sell my '03 Phoenix yellow manual M3..
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      05-03-2019, 08:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yco View Post
feeling one of the biggest regrets to sell my '03 Phoenix yellow manual M3..
The Phoenix yellow M3 were extremely great looking.
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      05-03-2019, 11:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SunnyD View Post
Glad to see you still have the e46 Josh...I've gone through a ton of cars since we've met lol. Hope to see you around!
My man!!! When will I get to see that sexy GTS in person?

Quote:
Originally Posted by yco View Post
feeling one of the biggest regrets to sell my '03 Phoenix yellow manual M3..
Part of why I haven't sold this car is knowing that I won't be able to buy it back

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanG View Post
The Phoenix yellow M3 were extremely great looking.
Agreed
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      05-04-2019, 12:39 AM   #12
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i became friends with the guy i sold the car, its one phone call away but now i feel like its someone else's girl.. one day planning to move back to E46 M3 with a CSL.. not in my own country though.. in Turkey CSL market is like 150K+ euros.. ridiculous even BMW didnt profit that much..
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      05-05-2019, 04:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yco View Post
i became friends with the guy i sold the car, its one phone call away but now i feel like its someone else's girl.. one day planning to move back to E46 M3 with a CSL.. not in my own country though.. in Turkey CSL market is like 150K+ euros.. ridiculous even BMW didnt profit that much..
I'd love to snag a CSL, especially since they'll be road legal here in the states in a few years.
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      05-06-2019, 07:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
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feeling one of the biggest regrets to sell my '03 Phoenix yellow manual M3..
Feel the same way about my '02 Imola Red 6 Speed.
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      05-06-2019, 08:10 PM   #15
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Amazing. Thanks for sharing. I can def relate and agree on a lot what you said about the e46 m3. I have owned two in the past and do regret selling my zcp. As much as I do enjoy my e90, there was something special about the e46. Today's bmw's are certainly not what they used to be.
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      05-07-2019, 07:15 AM   #16
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Great car, great color, great post. Love the review.
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      05-07-2019, 07:16 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supercar Ace View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by yco View Post
i became friends with the guy i sold the car, its one phone call away but now i feel like its someone else's girl.. one day planning to move back to E46 M3 with a CSL.. not in my own country though.. in Turkey CSL market is like 150K+ euros.. ridiculous even BMW didnt profit that much..
I'd love to snag a CSL, especially since they'll be road legal here in the states in a few years.
How do you make CSL road legal, or just some odd ball law for car older than x number of year?
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      05-07-2019, 07:32 AM   #18
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Lol love the pics.

Did you pay all the models or do they just flock to the car in bathing suits when you park it?

But really how'd you find them?
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      05-07-2019, 07:38 AM   #19
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Very nice.

The hoes seem to like your LSB, too.
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      05-07-2019, 07:48 AM   #20
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nice writeup thanks for sharing
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      05-07-2019, 07:51 AM   #21
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Respect for 134 k miles put on a LSB E46M over 10 years. Friends, cars, girls.
Life well lived.
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      05-07-2019, 07:52 AM   #22
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Great review and couldn't agree more. I had a Phoenix yellow E46 M3 from 2001-2007. I knew the car was special but up until 2 weeks ago it really dawned on me 12 years later exactly how special. Prior to that an E36 4 door. Post E46 CLS 55, E92 briefly, and up until last week a F83. Ive been telling everyone since I got the f83 (last May) that I enjoyed the e46 better IMO. I just couldn't put my finger why since it had been so long that I drove it. Sat in my first Porsche 2 weeks ago a manual 991.2 and took it for a test drive. I was blown away and immediately remembered exactly what I was missing and what was so so special about the E46. I'm not comparing a 991.2 to an E46 by any means but when it comes to pure driving fun, and being in something that's so perfectly balanced with power and weight it's a totally different animal then let's say my F83. I feel as if the new M's have too much power for the chassis. Especially with a tune that I had.

I can drive make no mistake about it but I never felt 100% confident with the F83. The E46 wasn't nearly as fast but man I felt I was one with the car. the high revs, manual gearbox and natural aspirated motor that's what I was missing! I don't want the fastest car with the biggest supercharger and turbos and tunes. I want the car that makes me feel as if I'm driving it and it's not driving me. Needless to say I picked up the 991.2 GT3 last week and it feels like 2001 all over again. I've been an M fanatic all of my life and IMO the e46 was the last of them.
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