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Bought an old BMW M3, filled with regret...

Discussion in 'Motors' started by mrk, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. mrk

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 83,272

    Location: South Coast

    ... Regret that I didn't put more effort into getting one sooner :D

    [UPDATED 2017.07.21] As it's been some 2.5 years of ownership, I have accumulated the bulk of the media and thoughts from this thread into this single OP. Figured it makes it easy to find everything for people, especially those who may also be looking at getting an E46 M3.

    After over 40,000 miles of driving it, do I regret buying it over something cheaper to maintain? Certainly not. Sure, it has been expensive to keep on the road for those 40k miles in such a short space of time, but I don't think I'd have wanted to do that distance in any other car as an all round package.

    I had the 318Ci for five years, wanted the 330Ci,. but they were £5000 over budget at the time, so five years later I am in a position to be able to buy an M3 instead. YOLO?

    Not being a turbo, I do sometimes find I'm more cautious around cars with bags of torque low down the rpm range, but once the S54 is wound up, it's easy enough to keep a distance, especially from remap's increased top end performance. Compared to today's standards, perhaps it's not as quick as some hot hatches like the A45/Astra VXR and the like. But I found it to be quick enough for every situation on the road so far, and the noise it makes is always pleasing.

    People generally seem to appreciate seeing a clean E46 M3 it seems. I regularly get comments when parking up or driving by in stop start traffic. I have also had some dumb comments thrown at me, recently a guy in a Z4 asked if it was a "genuine M or just an M sport" :rolleyes: :p

    There are things I don't like. The soft top takes too long to open or close. 22 seconds is a long time when you're sat at a set of lights and trying to decide if the roof should go up or down for a few miles before hitting the motorway. I drove a new Boxster not long back, and that roof went up and down in 11 seconds. I wish there was a way to speed it up, or at least be able to do it in motion (above 3mph that is!).

    The parking sensors are still iffy, they fix themselves some months, and most of the time they don't work. I've tracked it down to the loom having a break somewhere. A low priority task I think.

    The soft top roof skeleton creaks in cold weather as the rubber joints rub against each other. They are not areas you can reach through the canvas, so I live with it until (unelss someone has ideas?!).

    But there are more things I do like, so it all evens out I guess. The whole car feels analogue, more so since the suspension refresh. I've driven many newer cars and they all have epic refinement, but they are too quiet, barely making a peep from inside the cabin. With the M3 I can feel and hear exactly what the transmission and engine are doing.

    Fuel economy wise it's pretty good for what it is. 400 miles from a tank is easy on a motorway run with some city driving thrown in. Long term average is sat at just over 24MPG. Average MPG between fill-ups is 21-22. The lowest I have seen so far over a distance is 18, but that was driving... briskly.

    Initially I noted that I'd probably have this car for the long run, and this thought remains. I'll probably get an electric car for daily running, and leave the M3 for leisure exclusively. At this time, I feel I've invested too much time and money into it to think about getting rid. I still have a lot more destination driving I want to do with it, and it currently sits in a state of condition that I am completely happy with.



    Previous car:
    2003 E46 318Ci Sport / 143HP / 200Nm / 1345KG~ / Purchase mileage ~70k, closing mileage 109k / Owned for 5 years

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    New car:
    2005 E46 M3 Convertible / 343HP / 365Nm / 1640KG~ / Purchase mileage ~64k, mileage as of 2017.06.11, 96k

    Bought this from Nick Johnson Motor Company. They deal almost exclusively with M cars, and Nick personally picked me up and dropped me off in their CSL, which was pretty damn sweet. I knew then that if I were to buy the car, I'd be wanting that CSL sound (more on that later).

    The purchase itself went very smoothly, no problems whatsoever. I did however notice a few things shortly after purchase that weren't obvious initially.

    1: Driver side wing mirror was glued back on at some point, the glue wasn't very good and it simply collapsed in my hands when I first washed the car :eek:

    2: There was also a small indication of bubbling below the wing mirror on the Aluminium base (this is normal for all E46 M3s). I used both issues as fuel to request that both wing mirrors be replaced. The dealer sent me two newly painted wing mirrors, and I simply swapped them over and sent the old ones back.

    3: The battery was dying. I knew this before purchase, and Nick personally told me that the battery would be sorted before collection, so i assumed everything was in order. It was not, and the day after purchase the car would not start. I phoned RAC, who came round and I purchased a battery off them with lifetime warranty. Nick then re-reimbursed me.

    4: The paintwork had a bad quality machine polish done. Buffer trails and holograms on every panel. I had Envy Car Care in Fareham work their magic and apply ceramic coating to the paintwork several months later.

    Photos shortly after purchase (having had the steering wheel retrimmed, gear knob replaced, boot spoiler installed):

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    Photos since then up to present day, having had the following bigger mods and preventative maintenance jobs done:
    - Evolve Eventuri carbon air intake kit
    - Evolve stage 1 remap @ +20HP, +15Nm, power to 8300rpm vs 7050rpm (stock)
    - All wheels swapped at First Aid Wheels with fresh diamond cut ones
    - DSC pressure sensors 1 and 2 replaced
    - Thermostat replaced
    - Front calipers replaced with Bigg Red refurbished ones in premium black finish
    - Various coding customisations using Carly for BMW
    - M-Track mode activated using NCS Expert
    - Windscreen replaced due to stone chip with BMW replacement after much faffing with Autoglass
    - Xenon bulbs upgraded with Phillips Xtreme Vision
    - Front 4 indicator bulbs upgraded to LED parts from Weislicht in Canada (
    - BMW short weighted gear knobs replaced with longer original E46 M3 illuminated knob, then later replaced with titanium plated billet knob and handbrake lever from Storm Motorwekrs
    - Rear bumper diffuser upgraded to CSL diffuser, carbon fibre finish painted to be body colour (from another M3 owner).
    - Exhaust tips replaced with slightly larger ones, custom made by a Cutters forum member
    - Complete bushings refresh
    - Wishbone and ball joints refresh
    - Goodridge stainless steel braided brake lines upgrade
    - PFC Z Rated brake pads upgrade
    - Both headlamp lenses replaced due to stone chips
    - Headlight beam adjuster droplink replaced due to breaking in Scotland
    - A single open pitlane trackday at Bedford Autodrome
    - Rusting lip on driver's side front wing replaced with a new genuine one
    - The car was rear ended back at the end of 2015, and the third party's insurer deemed it to be a Cat C due to the cost of repairs exceeding their margin for approving the repairs. A damned shame if you ask me, and insurance only seems to be a con for the non fault party in this regard. I kept the car and accepted their settlement payout, then had the car repaired at a bodyshop I know, documented the repair process with photos and called it a day.
    - Modified the glovebox torch to become a 12v 5A outlet. Now the phone chargers/camera are powered from here instead of the fusetap. Tidier cabling, more factory fit and finish.
    - Rod bearing failure resulting in the need for a new engine. Read about it in this post.

    What I like about it the most is absolutely the engine post Eventuri install. Coupled with the manual gearbox and shorter weighted gear knob, the combination not only feels great, but the sound that burbles in from 2500rpm all the way to 8000rpm and only gets louder as the revs climb is surreal.

    It’s not something anyone riding with you expects, and the way the engine revs with that noise, with the bhp taking over when where torque peaks out brings huge smiles. Roll the windows down and the sound is just even greater still.

    This is a convertible wrapped in leather and heavy sound deadened trim, yet it sounds and feels the way it does from such a simple (and relatively cheap) modification. Granted that 2005 and beyond E46 M3s share the CSL’s exhaust manifold, so this helps in the more raw sound.


    A few members here have been passengers at various meets since I’ve had the Eventuri installed (although not after the remap) has been installed, and will definitely attest to the great noise :cool:



    [​IMG]
    ^ The Sunday wash includes engine bay wipe down

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    ^ Ceramic coating looks amazing. Carbon Black still gets dirty/dusty within 48hrs though.

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    +
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    ^ Met up with NickX for a photo session in London

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    ^ The illuminated knob is nicer to hold than the short weighted Sport knob.But the length of this knob isn't to everyone's taste.

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    ^ FA Wheels do fantastic work with diamond cut wheels. The refurbed calipers also freshen up the otherwise browned standard unpainted finish.

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    ^ Roger Penny Way in the New Forest is a superb place for not only landscape photography, but cars.

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    ^ Evolve were super friendly when I went for the remap.

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    ^ That photo got featured by BMW on their social media!

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    ^ The engine bay is much loved by my indy. They always look forward to working on it. Can't blame them :p

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    ^ I initially installed a Parrot Asteroid Smart, but then upgraded to an Erisin Android unit which much better suits the dash due to the OEM styling. Also runs the latest apps, so Waze and Pushbullet come in very handy.

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    ^ The interior was in good condition when I bought the car, but with a little more effort, it's in excellent condition under my ownership. It's probably tidier than most cars that are only a couple of years old.

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    ^ Contrary to internet legends, I found the Pilot SuperSport tyres to not be that great in typical British weather. DSC would kick in all too often when leaving junctions from standstill (the most annoying bit), and that wasn't even applying too much power. The CSC6 however, excellent by comparison. The only time DSC now intervenes is if I'm provoking the back end.

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    ^ After a wash, the car looks absolutely amazing. That being said, it doesn't even last this way for a full two days before dust and grime settles, making the gloss look a bit dull. I will never be buying a blacky again.

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    ^ The original exhaust tips were in fair condition, but not even Autosol could polish up the inner lips fully.

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    ^ The Euro tips suit the car much better. A bit of a faff to install, but all in an afternoon's work.

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    ^ Diffuser installed, excuse the road filth.

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    ^ Still got a proper European road trip to complete (Swiss Alps), but Scotland's NC500 was totally mint. ~2000 miles door to door, a broken drop link and dirty car. All worth it.

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    ^ A little closer to home, Hampshire has some nice roads and views. When the sun's out, it's time to put the roof down and enjoy the road.

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    ^ A little pit stop during a night drive.

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    ^ Storm Motorwerks Titanium plated handbrake handle and gear knob. E30 M3 inspired version, with OEM style top plate.


    Videos:


    ^ The exhaust note of the E46 is split 50/50. Some like it, some hate it. I like it.


    +

    ^ @ 20s in. The induction noise with the Eventuri installed is too addictive from both inside and outside the car.


    ^ NC500 compilation
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
  2. tummelv

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 19, 2011

    Posts: 1,737

    Location: Inverness, Scotland

    nice car m8
     
  3. Steedie

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Jun 29, 2004

    Posts: 18,967

    Location: Oxfordshire

    Gorgeous :)

    Enjoy
     
  4. Vita

    Capodecina

    Joined: Mar 26, 2006

    Posts: 10,314

    Location: United Kingdom

    Looks to be a beautiful example. Really like the interior, the seat colour is perfect.
     
  5. --Mike--

    Hitman

    Joined: Aug 10, 2006

    Posts: 668

    Location: Northampton

    Good review thanks. They do make nice noises!
     
  6. Howard

    Capodecina

    Joined: Jul 12, 2007

    Posts: 15,580

    Location: South East

    Looks fantastic :)


    The AC wouldn't kick in at those low temps anyway would it?

    Some kind of silicone lubricant should help with the creaking seals.
     
  7. pepsilol

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 26, 2011

    Posts: 4,881

    I gotta ask, aren't bored of the same interior type thing?
     
  8. MissChief

    Capodecina

    Joined: Jul 17, 2010

    Posts: 14,913

    Always wanted an E46 M3. Not sure about a cabrio (and of all the E9x variants I'd have the M3 saloon) but lovely example with good options.
     
  9. MadMouse101

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jun 27, 2012

    Posts: 1,092

    Location: Brighton

    Looks great.
     
  10. r2d2

    Hitman

    Joined: Apr 16, 2009

    Posts: 736

    Uncle had one back in the day,

    love it.
     
  11. mjt

    Capodecina

    Joined: Aug 31, 2007

    Posts: 17,275

    Lack of heated seats would annoy me.
    But then I'd put my foot down and forget about it!

    Enjoy :D
     
  12. M1k3H

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 6, 2010

    Posts: 1,125

    Location: Newport

    Sat in an M3 E46 convertible when I was 18-19. A mate's cousin had it and took us for a ride.

    Absolutely fantastic!
     
  13. mrk

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 83,272

    Location: South Coast

    Not me! I'm one of few who actually likes the interior of the E46/E39 era, it's a solid driver focused place to be whether the journey is long or short. I don't like that on newer models the centre console is no longer facing the driver and it's flatter.
    Ah yes good point, below 3 degrees it won't activate until the engine is warmed up I believe - At least it has been working since re-gassed in sub 3 degrees temps because the windows were initially misty upon me breathing are no longer misty the moment I start the car and the CC kicks in.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  14. G-MAN2004

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jul 4, 2004

    Posts: 28,909

    I can't believe how these still do not look dated in the slightest. I love it. :cool:
     
  15. rare

    Soldato

    Joined: Nov 1, 2002

    Posts: 6,436

    The interior of the E46 is perfect. They will never really better it in my opinion. Sure they will get more fancy, but from a functional, driver orientated perspective, the E46 was a real high point. Well everything about the E46 was a high point ;)

    Car looks absolutely stunning dude, really wonderful. Enjoyed reading the write up and the photographs are great. Can I ask what was the dealer called?
     
  16. NoNameNoNumber

    Mobster

    Joined: Nov 25, 2009

    Posts: 4,620

    Should've parked better so the strip lights where square

    Lovely car though :)
     
  17. mrk

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 83,272

    Location: South Coast

    It's within the bay :mad: ;) What more do you want from me!

    Sure, it's from Nick Johnson Motor Company :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  18. dacads

    Capodecina

    Joined: Sep 3, 2012

    Posts: 10,206

    Location: Space

    Pff where's the vid?
     
  19. mrk

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 83,272

    Location: South Coast

    I posted a Vimeo link in the op! But if you mean videos of donuts and burnouts then I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. I enjoy driving the car enthusiastically and driving through exhaust appreciation tunnels but not doing burnouts and donuts and revving the car endlessly while idle like a plank :p
     
  20. dacads

    Capodecina

    Joined: Sep 3, 2012

    Posts: 10,206

    Location: Space

    Did you? I Must be blind but I am on my phone :p why would I mean donuts and such? I wouldn't expect that at all unless you're careless and like shredding tires!