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      12-28-2018, 12:14 PM   #1
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Help me pick an E46

I couldn't find an E46 sub-forum (point me in the right direction if it exists plz) so figured this was as good a place as any.

I'm considering picking up a E46 M3 my "daily". Daily would be driving to work 3-4 times a week for about a total of 120 miles weekly.

This is mainly driven by the fact I need a daily, moreso than me really wanting a E46. My budget is about $25k for a daily, so if I'm going to spend that I'd like to at least put it towards something I'll enjoy vs. a soulless, boring lease etc.

I just began my search and my main criteria is low-ish miles, enough that I can pile them on for the next 3-5 years before hitting 100k, but not so low that I'm paying a premium for a garage queen. I'm primarily looking at automatics due to how it'll be driven, plus the manuals command a premium and I'm trying to stay within budget.

I've got my eye on this one but it's not local. I don't have a problem with that but would want to fly out, do a PPI and then transport it back. I'm trying to stay away from mods but this one is tastefully done IMO and she's priced right...And the cinnamon interior

This one is local, and I love the Monaco exterior but not the biggest fan of the gray interior. I'd have to see it in person.

Any thoughts on either of those? I'm not as well-versed with the E46 lifecycle...anything specific to keep an eye on or known issues?

I'm also trying to be patient and keep an eye on the market since I just started looking and I'm not under a ton of pressure for timing.
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      12-28-2018, 12:34 PM   #2
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If you're looking for a DD and aren't a badge whore check into the 330 ZHP as well, very nice and a lot easier on the wallet - both initially and come repair time.
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      12-28-2018, 12:37 PM   #3
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+1 on what BEM said. If you're looking for an E46 to use as a reliable DD it's ZHP all the way.
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      12-28-2018, 12:56 PM   #4
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+2 on what BEM said. The SMG E46 M3 would be a maintenance whore - All the S54 issues to keep an eye on along with the bonus of SMG? No thank you.
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      12-31-2018, 08:27 AM   #5
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The e46 M3 can be quite reliable, if you're willing to spend a weekend (or pay someone) to lock it down. Takes ~$500 in vanos lockdown parts and $120 in subframe foam (assuming you buy one where the subframe hasn't failed-- the subframe gets quite expensive if you allow it to fail). SMG isn't the reliability disaster it used to be-- the pump can now be rebuilt on the cheap (instead of having to be replaced), and if you relocate the pump, so it doesn't overheat, it won't fail in the first place (I'd still get 6mt).

That said, all e46s, M or otherwise, are at least 12 years old at this point. If you get a car that has had deferred maintenance, you're going to have a lot of catching up to do. Here is a list of what the e46 m3 needs when: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=190111
^this all goes for the ZHP, as well. Really, this goes for any car that you want to drive like new (bushings/bearings/ball joints/shocks) and be reliable (cooling system, fluids, etc). The bill will just all come due at once, if you don't have proof that the PO kept on top of the above. Skipping maintenance/lockdowns is what makes the car super expensive to own (and drive like crap, and be unreliable).

I've been DDing an e46 M3 for the last 17 years. My weekend/track (coupe) M3 is at 150,000 miles (including 10,000+ track miles, and making 100hp more than stock, still NA) and my DD (wagon) m3 is at 200,000 miles (a little bit of tracking). Both have been super reliable-- in that time, I've broken down one time (fuel pump). Original engine/trans/diffs/etc in both cars, and both drive like new (or better, in the case of the highly modified coupe). Properly maintained, they're freaking great cars.

That said, you should also test drive one and make sure it's the right car for you. The e46 M3 is, IMO, the more hardcore M3-- it rides the harshest, it makes the most funny noises (that don't indicate problems), it can't hold a steady idle, it makes the most hp/L and torque/L NA, it has the highest piston speeds, it's undersquare, etc. If you're used to more modern M cars, it may come as a bit of shock. But, the flip side is that all of that makes it more rewarding to drive hard than anything BMW has made since.

I own an M54 powered car, also. I wouldn't get the ZHP over the M3, unless you find the M3 to be too aggressive for DDing. I don't think there's any significant running cost difference between the two.

But, it doesn't really feel like it makes sense to have the more comfortable f8x as your weekend car and the better driving experience but less comfortable e46 as your DD :P


... I say hypocritically, as I've tried to go to a newer, more comfortable car multiple times, gotten frustrated by them, and gone back to e46s.

Last edited by Obioban; 12-31-2018 at 09:55 AM..
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      12-31-2018, 08:28 AM   #6
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Oh, and the e46 m3 forum is M3forum.net. There's very little going on here, e46 wise.

... and the grey interior is garbage, imo.
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      12-31-2018, 09:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obioban View Post
great.

That said, you should also test drive one and make sure it's the right car for you. The e46 M3 is, IMO, the more hardcore M3-- it rides the harshest, it makes the most funny noises (that don't indicate problems), it can't hold a steady idle, it makes the most hp/L and torque/L NA, it has the highest piston speeds, it's undersquare, etc. If you're used to more modern M cars, that may come as a bit of shock. But, the flip side is that all of that makes it more rewarding to drive hard than anything BMW has made since.
Makes me miss my E46 a lot now. This couldn't be more true about the feelings it gives driving it. It's like a modern day, European muscle car in a sense.

OP in my opinion, you're better off finding an example that needs work, paying a smaller amount for it, and doing everything yourself if time and ability is available. You can buy a $20k E46 that still needs 5-10k in work. Ask me how I know
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      01-23-2019, 05:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obioban View Post
The e46 M3 can be quite reliable, if you're willing to spend a weekend (or pay someone) to lock it down. Takes ~$500 in vanos lockdown parts and $120 in subframe foam (assuming you buy one where the subframe hasn't failed-- the subframe gets quite expensive if you allow it to fail). SMG isn't the reliability disaster it used to be-- the pump can now be rebuilt on the cheap (instead of having to be replaced), and if you relocate the pump, so it doesn't overheat, it won't fail in the first place (I'd still get 6mt).

That said, all e46s, M or otherwise, are at least 12 years old at this point. If you get a car that has had deferred maintenance, you're going to have a lot of catching up to do. Here is a list of what the e46 m3 needs when: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=190111
^this all goes for the ZHP, as well. Really, this goes for any car that you want to drive like new (bushings/bearings/ball joints/shocks) and be reliable (cooling system, fluids, etc). The bill will just all come due at once, if you don't have proof that the PO kept on top of the above. Skipping maintenance/lockdowns is what makes the car super expensive to own (and drive like crap, and be unreliable).

I've been DDing an e46 M3 for the last 17 years. My weekend/track (coupe) M3 is at 150,000 miles (including 10,000+ track miles, and making 100hp more than stock, still NA) and my DD (wagon) m3 is at 200,000 miles (a little bit of tracking). Both have been super reliable-- in that time, I've broken down one time (fuel pump). Original engine/trans/diffs/etc in both cars, and both drive like new (or better, in the case of the highly modified coupe). Properly maintained, they're freaking great cars.

That said, you should also test drive one and make sure it's the right car for you. The e46 M3 is, IMO, the more hardcore M3-- it rides the harshest, it makes the most funny noises (that don't indicate problems), it can't hold a steady idle, it makes the most hp/L and torque/L NA, it has the highest piston speeds, it's undersquare, etc. If you're used to more modern M cars, it may come as a bit of shock. But, the flip side is that all of that makes it more rewarding to drive hard than anything BMW has made since.

I own an M54 powered car, also. I wouldn't get the ZHP over the M3, unless you find the M3 to be too aggressive for DDing. I don't think there's any significant running cost difference between the two.

But, it doesn't really feel like it makes sense to have the more comfortable f8x as your weekend car and the better driving experience but less comfortable e46 as your DD :P


... I say hypocritically, as I've tried to go to a newer, more comfortable car multiple times, gotten frustrated by them, and gone back to e46s.
Spot on; I've had three e46 m's, two f80's and e46 is much more raw. my second e46 was euro spec with 150mi when I sold and the last one had well over 135k; maintain them, spend the money, and they'll last no issue. I sold my last one cause we had a kid, and I just wanted another f80 so I used the rear doors as my excuse
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