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      02-01-2024, 05:19 AM   #1
Supercar Ace
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15 Years Of The Ultimate Driving Machine - 15 Year Ownership Review Of The E46 M3

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Well, it seems like I post once every few years now, but I guess when I do I have to make it a good one. My 2001 E46 M3 turns 23 years old today (it was built in Feb 2001) so I figured that was a good enough excuse to reflect on my ownership experience with it, which is now about to hit the 15 year mark (I took delivery on May 1st, 2009).



As we all know, cars come in different varieties and flavors, and I must say as time goes on and I drive newer and different cars, my appreciation for how special this model is continues to grow each year. The design still looks modern enough and has a timeless quality to it. The power it has is plenty to boot, the balance of the car is perfect and the feedback from the driving experience is addicting...it's such a great point-and-shoot road weapon. It's a very alive car...NA engine, manual gear shifts, and it really feels like an instrument that you synch with. A lot of modern cars make you feel more like a highly informed passenger, but with the E46 it really emphasizes the art of driving, rather than the horsepower, top end speed or other useless vanity metrics. That being said over my ownership experience I have done it all with this car...taken it to the canyons, to the track, for grocery runs, full drift sessions...you name it. I've also maxed out the speed at 180 mph, which was GPS verified on the track at 180.2 mph (I paid for the whole speedometer, I'm going to use the whole speedometer). It's fairly insane how capable, quick and fun this car is, even compared against it's modern counterparts.



(The story, reposted from 5 years ago lol) 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.



After 15 years of ownership my stance has still remained the same on the cars character: 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. Compared to a lot of cars this car has a unique and distinct character and personality, and it's easy to see why it's a Car Guy's Car. I've taken plenty of girls out in exotics and other more luxurious cars. But when I take them out in my M3 I get a lot of reactions from other drivers, valets and other people waling buy which always leaves them puzzled at what the big deal with it is. I just tell them " It's a car guy thing," but there's a large amount of fanfare and appreciation for the E46. I know I get a thrill every time I see one in the wild. I've driven and tracked just about everything...and I certainly have my cars I love for different reasons and purposes. In my opinion Lamborghini's are the ultimate car experience, with the sound, styling, speed and cool factor...nothing provides the total experience package...not even Bugatti's, hence my favorite car of all time is still the Aventador SV (I've driven every variant of Aventador and Huracan, so I hove done my homework). Below that you get the pure driver's dream cars, and that's where the Ferrari 458 Italia steals spot #2...it's literally what a dream machine should be and the experience is the perfect portion of everything. But then there's the cars that can do it all, and the M3 has always excelled at being a jack of all trades and a master of fun. And as time goes on the E46 shines brighter and brighter. I had an E90 M3 for 4 months along side the E46 and while the E90 series of M cars are some of the best you can get, the E46 just felt "right" in all senses. I've driven the F80 M3/4's and the latest and greatest ones. And yes they are fast and more than capable, but there's a slight feeling that a lot of the original "Ultimate Driving Machine " magic has been overlooked for the sake of modernization. I think the best testament to the E46 M3 is just how many times BMW's tried to remake it over the years, with the 1 Series M, the M2 CS and the current M2. Back at the start of the new millennium they really went all out and I'm happy to report that with a little upkeep that same magic from then is still as powerful as ever today.



From an upkeep perspective, my M3 has been a great car to own. In 15 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)
- Replaced the original clutch in 2020 (at 196,000 miles)
- Replaced the VANOS with the Doctor VANOS upgrade in 2021
- Spun a rod and had to do an Engine Rebuild in 2022 at 198,000 Miles
- While doing the engine rebuild replaced the radiator, battery and cylinder coil packs



At present the car is 23 years old and runs better than brand new, so I stuck with my original plan of driving it until the wheels fell off then buying it new wheels to keep going.



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 15 years, it's truly been a blast of an experience. And yes, the plan for my M3 still remains the same as they did 15 years ago: Drive it until the wheels fall off, and then by some more wheels. Hopefully with this engine rebuild it'll be another 15 more years before that happens again...lol

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: 220,000

Name: Sonic

Personal Ranking of Top 5 Favorite Cars I've Driven:

1. 2017 Lamborghini Aventador SV
2. 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia
3. 2001 BMW E46 M3
4. 2021 Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder
5. 2024 Chevy Corvette Z06


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

1994 Acura NSX
2018 Acura NSX
2022 Alfa Romeo Gulia Quadrifoglio
2022 Aston Martin Vantage
2024 Aston Martin DB12
2022 Audi RS4
2022 Audi R8 V10+
2012 BMW E92 M3
2017 BMW F82 M4 Competition Package
2017 BMW M2
2019 BMW M2 Competition
2021 BMW M2 CS
2021 BMW M5 CS
2024 Chevy Corvette Z06
2017 Dodge Viper ACR
2005 Ford GT
2004 Ferrari Enzo
2005 Ferrari F430 Scuderia
2012 Ferrari 458 Italia
2018 Ferrari 488 GTB
2023 Ferrari 812 Superfast
2018 Lamborghini Aventador S Roadster
2020 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
2022 Lamborghini Huracan Evo
2022 Lamborghini Huracan Evo RWD
2017 Lotus Evora
2018 McLaren 600LT Spyder
2020 McLaren 720S
2022 Mercedes AMG GT-S
2004 Porsche Carrera GT
2008 Porsche 997.1 GT3
2018 Porsche 991.2 911 Turbo S
2022 Porsche 991.2 Turbo S
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Last edited by Supercar Ace; 02-02-2024 at 06:34 PM..
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      02-01-2024, 08:34 AM   #2
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Happy BDay to your e46 M3

Your M3 looks great given its age and mileage. I took delivery of my Ď03.5 IR/IR with slick top and manual adjusting seats in Aug 2003 and sold it in Mar 2012. The only car Iíve ever regretted selling. I wish I could have her back. Best M3 of all generations.
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      02-01-2024, 12:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M3SQRD View Post
Happy BDay to your e46 M3

Your M3 looks great given its age and mileage. I took delivery of my Ď03.5 IR/IR with slick top and manual adjusting seats in Aug 2003 and sold it in Mar 2012. The only car Iíve ever regretted selling. I wish I could have her back. Best M3 of all generations.
Thanks! and there was time I considered selling it after 4 years, but then I quickly realized the only thing I could replace it with was another one so I had to keep it
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      02-02-2024, 02:40 PM   #4
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Beautiful car man, Iíve always wanted a Laguna Seca E46 M3. The car that sparked my interest in the brand as a kid. Maybe one day.
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      02-02-2024, 03:00 PM   #5
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OP, great looking car and nice story.

Update your top5, 458italia started as 2010
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      02-02-2024, 06:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaizer84 View Post
Beautiful car man, Iíve always wanted a Laguna Seca E46 M3. The car that sparked my interest in the brand as a kid. Maybe one day.
Thank you! I can definitely happen, it took me a year and a half to find mine, but the first time I saw LSB I knew that was the only color I could have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by m630 View Post
OP, great looking car and nice story.

Update your top5, 458italia started as 2010
Good catch, it was supposed to be 2012 lol. And thanks, there's been a lot of adventures over the years

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      02-04-2024, 08:16 AM   #7
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You are doing this right.

So many people donít understand that keeping a car and learning how to drive it to get the MOST out of it is the ultimate modification and upgrade. Instead modern consumer culture brainwashes people to just buy stuff.

Ive had my 1M almost 10 years now
And thereís nothing else I want! Hope you really do keep the E46 M3 for a long long time and in good health!! A total classic for sure!
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      02-04-2024, 09:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 10" View Post
You are doing this right.

So many people donít understand that keeping a car and learning how to drive it to get the MOST out of it is the ultimate modification and upgrade. Instead modern consumer culture brainwashes people to just buy stuff.

Ive had my 1M almost 10 years now
And thereís nothing else I want! Hope you really do keep the E46 M3 for a long long time and in good health!! A total classic for sure!
I 100% agree with you Thank you and congrats on 10 years of ownership to you!
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      02-05-2024, 12:46 AM   #9
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Thats awesome, love reading these type of stories!
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      02-05-2024, 01:31 PM   #10
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Awesome! Thanks for sharing
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      02-05-2024, 05:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GinTonic View Post
Thats awesome, love reading these type of stories!
Thanks and the same! One of things I have really enjoyed has been the enthusiasm people have for these cars so it's been create to hang, get to know and rally with fellow owners and enthusiasts over the years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by B58-M340iX View Post
Awesome! Thanks for sharing
My pleasure!

Another random story, my car featured in the LoterŪa music video from the Fast X movie:



Here's a few other pics that may or may not explain my user name lol...The last picture is entertaining as I technically only had 2 parking spaces at my old place, but thanks to my neighbors I was able to commandeer 4 (For the Aventador S, C8 Vette, E46 M3 and the CLS 63 AMG). All my neighbors thought I was a drug dealer for a month after that








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      02-07-2024, 10:33 AM   #12
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This is amazing.
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      02-07-2024, 10:36 AM   #13
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Thatís wild! The F80 is my 1st M3 and 2 years later I still love it! Letís see if we make it to 15 😅
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      02-07-2024, 10:41 AM   #14
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This was the model that made fall in-love with BMW MÖ
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      02-07-2024, 11:17 AM   #15
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Good stuff. My 2005 6MT TiAg/IR coupe has about 160k miles. Itíd be interesting to see/know:

1. Total cost of ownership if youíve tracked that.

2. Any issues with your seating? I have some stitching issues on driverís seat as well as top center of rear seats.

3. How often you were changing oil before the spun bearing (mine went at 125k).

Thanks.
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      02-07-2024, 11:59 AM   #16
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have never driven a 458 but from what have heard they are worth the money lol
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      02-07-2024, 12:12 PM   #17
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Beautiful Post Supercar Ace! I agree with just about everything you said. I've had my '06 Silver Gray/Black ZCP for 11 years now and cannot ever think of parting with it. I don't even know what I would buy. I recently picked up an IS500 for daily /dad duties and while it's fun, it's definitely not an E46 M3. I've also 'theory-crafted' a blank check build for my car, but I haven't won the lottery yet to drop the $100K+ it would take to do it lol.

I love lamborghini's as much as you do, but my dream would be a 2000 Diablo GT/2001 VT6.0SE.
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      02-07-2024, 12:17 PM   #18
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love it! timeless
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      02-07-2024, 12:37 PM   #19
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Don't ever sell that car!!! Cars will NOT get better to drive. My 2nd fav BMW of all time...after the E30.
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      02-07-2024, 12:42 PM   #20
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ďOther useless vanity metricsĒÖ half-naked woman next to the car. Made me LOL.

I had the e46 M3 manual transmission as new. Great car. After a couple years it was just OK. Liked my e93 better, but thatís just me.
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      02-07-2024, 12:56 PM   #21
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Great story and an absolutely beautiful machine. This is the exact car down to the color and trans that began my passion for BMW and M cars specifically. I remember my college chem profesor had a LSB on black manual E46 and I got a chance to ride in it a few times and I've been hooked ever since. Thank you for the review and I agree don't ever sell it. A legendary vehicle!!
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      02-07-2024, 01:08 PM   #22
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well this is a forum post like the good old days.
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