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      09-27-2022, 10:15 PM   #1
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Buying an E46 M3 as a garage mate?

As my current E92 track build is getting more and more hardcore, and less street-friendly; I've tempted the ideas of an E46 M3 as a weekend/occasional DD. A friend of a friend is selling an 05 w/172k but very clean and sorted..

Would I be disappointed with this as my other garage option for a street car? I know the S54 and S65 share the smol torque character, but the E46 is a bit lighter and more classic BMW.

My other option is to keep saving and get a 991.2 GT3 down the road. Yes, very different animals and wildly different price gap, but it's a dream car that I want to make happen for me.
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      09-27-2022, 11:33 PM   #2
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The biggest problem with an E46 M3 is the valves. They need to be manually shimmied like a motorcycle. It is a very expensive maintenance that needs to be done fairly frequently. You also need to check the rear subframe for cracks.
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      09-28-2022, 05:00 AM   #3
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S54 valves need to be done about every 30k. And yeah it's not cheap, but find a good indy shop and it will be way less than a dealership would charge. Part of the price of having solid lifters which in turn helps enable the 8k redline.
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      09-28-2022, 02:07 PM   #4
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It’s slow by today’s standards, high maintenance, and not a great DD with the notchy transmission and low torque.

It’s a car that really has to mean something special to you, for you to own. Which to me…it is. The most beautiful BMW made in my lifetime and the purest evolution of the classic BMW formula. I’ve already sold all of my other BMW’s but never this one.
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      09-28-2022, 03:19 PM   #5
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Holy mis-information batman.

S54 is very punchy, plenty of torque for the car's weight and displacement, especially if you relocate the cats to sect 1.

Valve adjustment doesn't NEED to be done that often, though you may choose to because of how easy and cheap it is to do. Gone are the days of $500 shim kits and $1400 jobs by dealers. You can do it yourself very easily. It's not hard if you can do basic arithmetic.

Go to nam3forums.com for the latest info on these cars.

RBs are not a big issue for the 2003+ models or those that had the service bulletin done. They'll do 100k and more easily.

Vanos is the only thing that I'd say is very critical, the tabs on the exh side hub.

RACP cracks do happen, but seldom is it so horrible you have to spend thousands on a new floorpan. You can have cracks stop drilled and plates welded for about $1000.

E46 is special because it's the most elegant yet muscular design, a nice middle ground between analogue and digital, very "feelsome" small and light by today's standards etc.

120+hp per liter in a 3300lb car? Yes please.

I like having both. Ofc the e90 is "better" on paper and at most things, but I'd be very disappointed if I no longer had my e46.

I agree it's not the best DD, esp today. I think my situation is better, the e46 being the heavily modded one and my e90 being the daily.
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      09-28-2022, 07:39 PM   #6
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get the 991.2 gt3 w/ extended range fuel tank. don't settle if its your dream and it'll hold its value better in the long run.
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      10-05-2022, 08:12 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TboneS54 View Post
Holy mis-information batman.

S54 is very punchy, plenty of torque for the car's weight and displacement, especially if you relocate the cats to sect 1.

Valve adjustment doesn't NEED to be done that often, though you may choose to because of how easy and cheap it is to do. Gone are the days of $500 shim kits and $1400 jobs by dealers. You can do it yourself very easily. It's not hard if you can do basic arithmetic.

Go to nam3forums.com for the latest info on these cars.

RBs are not a big issue for the 2003+ models or those that had the service bulletin done. They'll do 100k and more easily.

Vanos is the only thing that I'd say is very critical, the tabs on the exh side hub.

RACP cracks do happen, but seldom is it so horrible you have to spend thousands on a new floorpan. You can have cracks stop drilled and plates welded for about $1000.

E46 is special because it's the most elegant yet muscular design, a nice middle ground between analogue and digital, very "feelsome" small and light by today's standards etc.

120+hp per liter in a 3300lb car? Yes please.

I like having both. Ofc the e90 is "better" on paper and at most things, but I'd be very disappointed if I no longer had my e46.

I agree it's not the best DD, esp today. I think my situation is better, the e46 being the heavily modded one and my e90 being the daily.
Thanks for clearing this up... the valve adjustment thing is the least of your worries on an E46 M3 lol...

Love mine, lot's of people prefer the E9x and that's okay too.
It's a very unique car (more than 100hp/Ltr, high revving inline 6) Very few other cars like it.

Having said that, I've bought my car 3x over in the 10 year's I've owned it between subframe issues, vanos, alternators (probably replaced like 5x no joke) etc. Wouldn't have it any other way. I would say I DIY'd about 80% of my issues too.
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      10-07-2022, 05:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spooni View Post
As my current E92 track build is getting more and more hardcore, and less street-friendly; I've tempted the ideas of an E46 M3 as a weekend/occasional DD. A friend of a friend is selling an 05 w/172k but very clean and sorted..

Would I be disappointed with this as my other garage option for a street car? I know the S54 and S65 share the smol torque character, but the E46 is a bit lighter and more classic BMW.

My other option is to keep saving and get a 991.2 GT3 down the road. Yes, very different animals and wildly different price gap, but it's a dream car that I want to make happen for me.
E36>>E46 IMO.

Try one out if you can. I was almost certain on buying an e46, until I drove one. It was just ok. Prob bc I expected to be blown away by it. Also I felt it was a redundant car having an m2 in the garage.

Drove an E36 on a whim and thought it was amazing. Great car, very analog, cheaper to maintain, interior quality is crappier, but overall a fun alternative if you've got an e9x in the garage.
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      10-07-2022, 08:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DB_Cooper View Post
E36>>E46 IMO.

Try one out if you can. I was almost certain on buying an e46, until I drove one. It was just ok. Prob bc I expected to be blown away by it. Also I felt it was a redundant car having an m2 in the garage.

Drove an E36 on a whim and thought it was amazing. Great car, very analog, cheaper to maintain, interior quality is crappier, but overall a fun alternative if you've got an e9x in the garage.
I agree and felt the E46 looks wise was close to the E92 compared to the E36. Either one would make a great stable mate to the E92 but I pulled the trigger on an E36 and have no regrets.
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      10-07-2022, 08:26 PM   #10
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I found the e46 undepowered. Brilliant chassis but needs 80 more hp and bags of torque. Plus the sound is meh….relatively speaking.
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      10-07-2022, 10:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sy1616 View Post
I found the e46 undepowered. Brilliant chassis but needs 80 more hp and bags of torque. Plus the sound is meh….relatively speaking.
It is underpowered, but that's why I appreciate it. In this day and age, I'm not in a rush to get anywhere, ring out the NA and enjoy the noise.

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      10-08-2022, 11:47 PM   #12
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there is no substitute for NA sound.
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      10-09-2022, 01:00 PM   #13
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I love the E46 on the street. I would have no qualms about picking it as a stablemate either. A bit more power would be nice but isn’t necessary in my opinion.
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      10-11-2022, 06:48 AM   #14
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We have an E46 M3 albeit and CSL and its actually refreshing ringing its neck out and looking down at the speedo and not doing crazy speeds that could land you in jail.
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      10-15-2022, 03:32 AM   #15
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Had one 2011 to 2022. Drove it daily and sold it at 120,000 miles. Great car and better road feedback than f80. Do the usual csl mods end you end up with a car that does “The Ring” in the same time as a F80. Far better and controllable on the edge as well.

Power level is good as you are able to explore traction to the max without overwhelming rear tyres the the F80 can easily do.

With mine I didn’t have to do the bearings, subframes vanos or smg pump. Items that I did do though was coil packs , alternator , vicious fan , water pump (pm @at 100,000 ) and smg relay. No shiming was required and within tolerance in the entire time .

At the 120,000 mark however it could have done with a suspension component refresh and I was thinking about getting rod bearings as a precaution, although oil analysis was still ok.

It you like twisty roads the e46 m3 feels like it’s on rails. Not a bad choice of car.
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      10-25-2022, 07:55 PM   #16
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Car with 106hp per liter and only 3300lbs from 2000 is "underpowered."

Good grief.

Viva la E46!
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      10-25-2022, 09:23 PM   #17
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While by modern standards it may be considered "slow", I would not undermine the character of the E46 by any means. It is truly a sublime drivers car, timeless design and another epic piece of BMW M history. My E46 will forever be my E92's stablemate they belong next to each other

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      11-03-2022, 09:36 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanG View Post
The biggest problem with an E46 M3 is the valves. They need to be manually shimmied like a motorcycle. It is a very expensive maintenance that needs to be done fairly frequently.
Lol, what are you smoking? Valve adjustment needs to be done ever 30k if you're anal or 60k per BMW, and takes a couple hours to DIY.
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      11-03-2022, 12:17 PM   #19
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Lol

The valve adjustment was a little scary when you're a 20 year old in 2010 and shops are quoting $1400. But it's actually very simple, with basic arithmetic and with a $20 schwaben pick up tool and $50 wiseco shim pack.
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      11-03-2022, 01:06 PM   #20
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As much as I love my F80, the E46 just wins me over every time I get a chance to drive mine. Great car to wring out and have fun in.
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