YSE Car of the Week: 2003 BMW E46 M3

Justin Crenshaw
by Justin Crenshaw

BMW enthusiasts would have you believe that there’s only one “real” M3: the original 1986 model (codenamed E30). That bad boy began life as a homologation special for Group A Touring Car racing. As BMW updated the racer, the road car received power and handling upgrades. When the six-cylinder E36 M3 appeared in 1995 (US), enthusiasts derided it as too heavy and, well, comfortable. By the time the E46 M3 appeared in 2000, the ultimate driving sports sedan was considered a bit of a pig—by True Believer standards. In fact, the third generation M3 is an animal; it wants to be driven hard and put away wet. As you would when purchasing any German hot rod, tuck away a bit of money for repairs and consult a specialist before you plunge into an E46 M3. Consumer Reports put the E46 M3 on its reliability list, but a bunch of smaller stuff can and will go wrong, and your M car will need regular infusions of pricey fluids, pads and other consumables. Autotrader lists a Your Shitty Economy Car of the Week: a “pristine” (albeit white) dealer-sourced 53k-mile 2003 E46 M3 at a shade under $25K. So, about twenty large, then. Plus the turbo?

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2 of 19 comments
  • AnalogKid AnalogKid on Aug 31, 2009

    I had the same dilemma and bought a CPO 335i coupe, w/ 6MT and no iDrive. It's a far better choice if you have to drive it every day. Plus, the SMG truly sucks and it was almost impossible to find e46 M3's with sticks. I also think that the e90 M3 looks like a kids toy with its ridiculous bulges and flares. And it's not much faster than the 335i. The 335i wins, hands down. And yes, out-of-warranty BMW's are not to be owned at any cost.

  • Harwester Harwester on Jul 13, 2021

    thank you so much .

  • Mike Beranek Yet another reason to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles charged with energy from wind & solar with modern, non-Monty Burns nuclear as a backup.
  • Tassos The cap the timid Western Europeans agreed to, a HIGH $60, which still lets Putin make a TON of billions of $, was way too HIGH. Ukraine correctly complained about this, it had asked for a $20 cap, I believe.
  • FreedMike "...I wouldn’t recommend holding your breath until fuel prices drop."Regular is $2.87 at my local gas station today. Considering that it was over four bucks this summer, I'd call that a drop. And it happened with the war still going on, the GOP not taking over Congress, Dark Brandon in the White House, and the Theoretical Keystone Pipeline still being canned. Imagine that. And I wonder if poor Slavuta has broken out the "will rap for food" sign yet.
  • THX1136 I would imagine the caps will have minimal impact. Putin is going to do what he wants to do regardless of how the citizens of his country fare.