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      11-10-2019, 06:55 PM   #1
ChiBimmer
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Condition and prices of E46 vs E9x M3

I've been in the market for some time for a four seat sports car to complement my S2000. I've narrowed my choices to E46 and E90 M3. Other cars I considered were Camaro SS, Lancer Evo, E39 M5.

I have driven about 4 E46 and 5 E9x. The prices of the E46 are lower, about $17k on average vs $21k for the E9x but the conditions are not even close. Every E9x whether at 50k miles or 100k miles looks two years old. There may be some curb rash on the wheels or a piece of interior trim that's scuffed up but they look fantastic overall. Nothing rattles. The shifters and clutches have good action.

The E46s are in a sorry state. I've yet to drive one that's "clean" condition. Shifters are either too stiff or too loose. The paint is bad or even rusted. The seat may be loose. Lights are out. They rattle. Some of these issues may be manageable for little money but the multitude of them on every car means the costs will add up and I worry about what I couldn't see or didn't notice.

Possibly the E9x is made of more durable stuff and is just screwed together better. That's part of it. More importantly I think the ownership groups are very different. E46s have been in the mid-teen thousands for a while. They're affordable to college students and people who just don't have the money to maintain an older car. Even if they have the means they may not care to invest in maintenance that isn't going to be captured when they sell. These cars are more likely to be parked outside which does havoc over time. The E46 is far more likely to be photographed for a Craigslist as at night under the lights of a gas station because the owner doesn't have a garage or driveway. Within two hundred miles of Chicago it's hard to find a dealer with an E46 manual unless it's pristine and then it's $30k.

The E90s on the other hand are coming front the hands or first or second or third owners who paid sticker or, say, $40k. This guy has a garage. He is more likely to have dealer service or paid a specialists. His car was in warranty for part of his ownership. Lurking this forum for a while I judge this owner to fastidious about the condition of their car. Observing the market for the last year I'm not sure the E9x has moved to collectible status yet though some here claim it has. Enthusiast Auto Group which specializes in BMW collectibles has three E9xs and they're all rare: two Lime Rock Park Editions and E90 manual competition package. They don't have any advantage over typical "high line" used car dealers in the run-of-the-mill '08 with 70,000 miles in great condition because those are everywhere for $22k.
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      11-10-2019, 07:10 PM   #2
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Buy a California car..
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      11-10-2019, 07:13 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SAMM3Y View Post
Buy a California car..
You mean an E46? With the E90 you don't even need to. I'm seeing 50k mile ones in Chicago. At 5k miles/year they're probably not seeing much snow and salt.
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      11-10-2019, 07:20 PM   #4
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From what I've found, similar condition and mileage E46s and E9Xs are very close in price (i.e. no rust and less than 50k miles) it will ultimately come down to which car you like more. Sure, the E90 is "newer" but the E46 is very well regarded and loved for a reason. The E46 will require additional maintenance through ownership, such as valve adjustments. Both cars have their controversies with rod bearings. I personally went with a low mileage E92 because the V8 just sounds incredible, and I wanted a reliable track car.

Stay away from the SMG E46 in any scenario though
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      11-10-2019, 08:25 PM   #5
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You can convert the SMG to manual. Itís not a big deal. And quite possibly the trans will be in better shape because a bad or careless driver has not mis shifted it.
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      11-10-2019, 09:43 PM   #6
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I've had six E46 M3's and two E9x M3's with a Z4M in between. The E9X is more car for the money, tangibly better all around and yes it is put together better also. You have to really love the E46 for intangible reasons to justify buying one over the next generation especially now that they are comparable in price. Don't be fooled by the cheap E46's, doesn't matter if its 10k or 20k... they all turn into 25k cars at least lol. M3F is a great community though, you'll find very knowledgable and passionate owners on that end, more so than here.

Last edited by e46IX; 11-10-2019 at 09:49 PM..
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      11-10-2019, 10:03 PM   #7
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Way more car for the money these days. Early E9xM3 are cheap. Bargain performance car!
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      11-10-2019, 11:46 PM   #8
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Look outside Chicago for your car.
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      11-11-2019, 12:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by e46IX View Post
I've had six E46 M3's and two E9x M3's with a Z4M in between. The E9X is more car for the money, tangibly better all around and yes it is put together better also. You have to really love the E46 for intangible reasons to justify buying one over the next generation especially now that they are comparable in price. Don't be fooled by the cheap E46's, doesn't matter if its 10k or 20k... they all turn into 25k cars at least lol. M3F is a great community though, you'll find very knowledgable and passionate owners on that end, more so than here.
I love the Z4M. Did it give you problems? An aside, the roadster is a better car than an E46 and also cheaper holding condition equal.
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      11-11-2019, 08:53 AM   #10
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The E9X is so much more car for the money and can be much more reliable, you can do bearings and actuators for preventative maintenance, and there's not much more you need (Couple other low cost issues might arise but that's normal).

As for the E46, it may need: Vanos rebuild, valve adjustment, sub-frame repair, rod bearings, there's some rear control arm that dies as well. Also I've been reading that some cars are suffering from head gasket issues as well (this might be more of a Europe issue from reading about it some more). They also have lots of little cosmetic issues as well, like the headliners sagging, a-b pillars and rust issues.
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      11-11-2019, 09:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiBimmer View Post
...E46s have been in the mid-teen thousands for a while. They're affordable to college students and people who just don't have the money to maintain an older car. Even if they have the means they may not care to invest in maintenance that isn't going to be captured when they sell. These cars are more likely to be parked outside which does havoc over time. The E46 is far more likely to be photographed for a Craigslist as at night under the lights of a gas station because the owner doesn't have a garage or driveway. Within two hundred miles of Chicago it's hard to find a dealer with an E46 manual unless it's pristine and then it's $30k.

The E90s on the other hand are coming front the hands or first or second or third owners who paid sticker or, say, $40k. This guy has a garage. He is more likely to have dealer service or paid a specialists. His car was in warranty for part of his ownership. Lurking this forum for a while I judge this owner to fastidious about the condition of their car. Observing the market for the last year I'm not sure the E9x has moved to collectible status yet though some here claim it has. Enthusiast Auto Group which specializes in BMW collectibles has three E9xs and they're all rare: two Lime Rock Park Editions and E90 manual competition package. They don't have any advantage over typical "high line" used car dealers in the run-of-the-mill '08 with 70,000 miles in great condition because those are everywhere for $22k.
Jesus christ, the generalizations in this post are cringe as fuck lol
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      11-11-2019, 10:22 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revengeismine View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiBimmer View Post
...E46s have been in the mid-teen thousands for a while. They're affordable to college students and people who just don't have the money to maintain an older car. Even if they have the means they may not care to invest in maintenance that isn't going to be captured when they sell. These cars are more likely to be parked outside which does havoc over time. The E46 is far more likely to be photographed for a Craigslist as at night under the lights of a gas station because the owner doesn't have a garage or driveway. Within two hundred miles of Chicago it's hard to find a dealer with an E46 manual unless it's pristine and then it's $30k.

The E90s on the other hand are coming front the hands or first or second or third owners who paid sticker or, say, $40k. This guy has a garage. He is more likely to have dealer service or paid a specialists. His car was in warranty for part of his ownership. Lurking this forum for a while I judge this owner to fastidious about the condition of their car. Observing the market for the last year I'm not sure the E9x has moved to collectible status yet though some here claim it has. Enthusiast Auto Group which specializes in BMW collectibles has three E9xs and they're all rare: two Lime Rock Park Editions and E90 manual competition package. They don't have any advantage over typical "high line" used car dealers in the run-of-the-mill '08 with 70,000 miles in great condition because those are everywhere for $22k.
Jesus christ, the generalizations in this post are cringe as fuck lol
That's exactly what I thought when I read it last night, so bad
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      11-11-2019, 10:24 AM   #13
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I think they are valid generalizations.
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      11-11-2019, 10:51 AM   #14
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Agreed, fair generalizations IMO. Sure there are exceptions, and those E46s are $30K.
The E9x is a way better value, and objectively, the better car. I love E46s but you have to realllly love them (and want that experience) for them to make sense these days, given the cost of entry for a decent one and all of the work and maintenance it will surely require.

Last edited by wyatth; 11-11-2019 at 11:40 AM..
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      11-11-2019, 01:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
I think they are valid generalizations.
I was more or less commenting on his opinion on the type of owner between the E46 and E92...as he believes if you have a E46 M3, you may be too poor to have a garage or driveway or too poor to keep up on maintenance?
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      11-11-2019, 01:32 PM   #16
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I've noticed that E46 prices have been shooting up and it is hard to find a clean example. Many are high mileage. I've been flirting with getting another "toy" car after selling my Z4M Roadster last year. (It was a good car, but did leave me stranded once because of the BST triggering spontaneously).

I have mixed feelings on BMW in general and am considering a E93 M3 or perhaps a C6 Vette.
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      11-11-2019, 01:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revengeismine View Post
I was more or less commenting on his opinion on the type of owner between the E46 and E92...as he believes if you have a E46 M3, you may be too poor to have a garage or driveway or too poor to keep up on maintenance?
And we're saying we agree, in large part. Of course there are exceptions (and those cars are now $30K), but for much of the last 5-8 years, these cars were in mid-teens $K and generally speaking, people buying a $15K car do not have as much to spend on maintenance and the like. It was a painful period on M3Forum seeing clean cars that had depreciated and new owners unwilling or unprepared to maintain them like a 10+ year old $60K performance German car requires. You can easily spend $5K/yr on these cars, which isn't something most $15K-car buyers are prepared or willing to do. It's the sad truth. Most E46s will forever be in this state now, but fortunately they're rebounding and enthusiasts are picking them up again, maintenance costs be damned.
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      11-11-2019, 02:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by revengeismine View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by pbonsalb View Post
I think they are valid generalizations.
I was more or less commenting on his opinion on the type of owner between the E46 and E92...as he believes if you have a E46 M3, you may be too poor to have a garage or driveway or too poor to keep up on maintenance?
Read it again. I was clear that there are good condition E46s and good owners. Those cars are worth a lot more than comparable quality E9xs.
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      11-11-2019, 03:24 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drifter2090 View Post
The E9X is so much more car for the money and can be much more reliable, you can do bearings and actuators for preventative maintenance, and there's not much more you need (Couple other low cost issues might arise but that's normal).

As for the E46, it may need: Vanos rebuild, valve adjustment, sub-frame repair, rod bearings, there's some rear control arm that dies as well. Also I've been reading that some cars are suffering from head gasket issues as well (this might be more of a Europe issue from reading about it some more). They also have lots of little cosmetic issues as well, like the headliners sagging, a-b pillars and rust issues.

This

SOOO much more reliable.


Over on M3Post I have like 6 DIY's addressing stuff on the E46M... I had one for 100k, I still like them, but at equal price to an E9X never ever ever

The biggest problem is the E36 and E46 has a chassis made out of paper mache and bubble gum.
Everyone whines about the extra weight of the E9X but I will take 100lb more every day of the week and twice on sunday if it is a solid vehicle, which is the case on the E9X



BMW didn't take chassis seriously until the E9X generation. The front and rear subframes of the E9X are little works of art... the E46 one seems like an afterthought, it isn't surprising that people end up ripping the entire thing off the car.
Even from the E9X to the F8X you can see significant improvements in the front end's reinforcements, however, as the E9X doesn't have any issues it isn't such a big deal.

The other day BMW released some pics of the front end reinforcements on their next gen M cars and holy shit! WOW!
http://www.trucktrend.com/news/1910-...-x6-m#photo-02

Last edited by SYT_Shadow; 11-11-2019 at 04:51 PM..
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      11-11-2019, 07:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SYT_Shadow View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drifter2090 View Post
The E9X is so much more car for the money and can be much more reliable, you can do bearings and actuators for preventative maintenance, and there's not much more you need (Couple other low cost issues might arise but that's normal).

As for the E46, it may need: Vanos rebuild, valve adjustment, sub-frame repair, rod bearings, there's some rear control arm that dies as well. Also I've been reading that some cars are suffering from head gasket issues as well (this might be more of a Europe issue from reading about it some more). They also have lots of little cosmetic issues as well, like the headliners sagging, a-b pillars and rust issues.

This

SOOO much more reliable.


Over on M3Post I have like 6 DIY's addressing stuff on the E46M... I had one for 100k, I still like them, but at equal price to an E9X never ever ever

The biggest problem is the E36 and E46 has a chassis made out of paper mache and bubble gum.
Everyone whines about the extra weight of the E9X but I will take 100lb more every day of the week and twice on sunday if it is a solid vehicle, which is the case on the E9X



BMW didn't take chassis seriously until the E9X generation. The front and rear subframes of the E9X are little works of art... the E46 one seems like an afterthought, it isn't surprising that people end up ripping the entire thing off the car.
Even from the E9X to the F8X you can see significant improvements in the front end's reinforcements, however, as the E9X doesn't have any issues it isn't such a big deal.

The other day BMW released some pics of the front end reinforcements on their next gen M cars and holy shit! WOW!
http://www.trucktrend.com/news/1910-...-x6-m#photo-02
I put a lot of emphasis of owners and where the generations are in the depreciation cycle but an '08 isn't really much newer than an '06. Talking to owners like you who have experience with these cars, the quality of engineering probably has just as much or more to do with it.
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      11-12-2019, 06:42 PM   #21
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Lots of valid points in here.

My high level thoughts, from about 180k Miles of combined E46 and E90 experience is this as follows. Unless you want a clean E46M as a nostalgic relatively stock so you can let it appreciate as much as you can all while you get to enjoy and put a few K miles/year at the same time. You should just go for the E9XM. Overall its better, just as enjoyable if not more enjoyable for every type of driving, and honestly they are very sorted cars! Sometimes I miss my E46 and think of getting another one, mainly just for the ability to have a clean one in my garage so when I wake up and get ready for work, walk in the garage I can start out my day knowing itll be a good day, regardless of which car I get in and drive.

With that said, if I ever got an E46M I think I would likely get a sub 10k car, because I'll be going thru the entire car regardless and it will be boosted.
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      11-12-2019, 08:13 PM   #22
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Both are special in their own way, but the E90 is the better daily and more contrast with the S2K. After Iíve driven one for a while and hop in the other I canít help but appreciate how awesome each one is. You canít go wrong.
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