Launched in the year 2000 in an optimistic new world, BMW saw the E46 and E46 M3 build on the good name of the previous E36 and ‘M’ cars. With 85,000 made between 2000 and 2006, it might be a relatively short period of time, but these cars are seen by many as one of the best BMWs ever made.
Appearing in private collections and on wish lists worldwide, it’s a car which has achieved ‘classic’ status very quickly to say it only went out of production in 2006. However, with a string of accolades and high praise from automotive fanatics and journalists worldwide, it’s not hard to see how this came to be.
Coming back to the car for sale, The ‘M’ cars are the jewel in the BMW crown. As with its predecessors, the E46 M3 is the identified as ‘top of the range’ instantly with numerous details from the widened bumpers, special side skirts and the modified front ‘apron’ which was designed to catch the eye of both pedestrians and other road users. These changes aren’t just for show though and in fact, they’re in-built with aerodynamics in mind. This is applicable to the Gurney flap to the rear of the car too. The small spoiler lip reduces lift and improves to traction – crucial in faster corners.
From the side, you’ll note the chrome-plated gills in the upper part of the front grille – another standout feature designed initially as an air duct cooling mechanism but later found to be surplus to requirement and kept in as an iconic highlight.
This example here is a post 2003 model – which means although the tweaks are slight (BMW recognised this was a classic not to be too revised!) there are a few small differences from the earlier M3s.
Engine wise, nestled under the bonnet is the expected M Series 6-cylinder engine. The 3.2 litre S54B32 engine was built on legacy from the predecessor; although is an almost entirely new development. It’s held in high esteem as the pioneer for BMW’s now well-known high-rev concept, where its only time for the ‘next’ gear is at just under 8,000 RPM.
In fact, such is the performance and achievement, the engine in this car has achieved no less than EIGHT wins at ‘Engine of the year’ awards.
Externally, the paintwork on the car is exceptional and careful inspection of the vehicle shows a light surface scratch on the driver’s door handle, two light stone chips on the driver’s door trim and a few very slight stone chips to the bonnet. These are so small, they are almost impossible to photograph and do not detract from the impressive appearance of the vehicle. There are no dents or visible repairs to any part of the exterior and no trim is loose or missing.
There is light perishing to the rubber in the back windows and the wing mirror glass on both passenger and driver, shows very light mirror rot in the join between the two panes of mirrored glass. This, like the stone chips, is only something one spots on very close inspection.
All exterior badges, lights and detailing are in perfect condition and overall, the vehicle is impressively striking.
All four tyres are matching and on similar tread: 4mm tread dated 2017. The brand is Michelin Pilot Sport 4 and there is slight curb damage to NSF and OSR.
The engine sounds impressive on tickover and even more so as you press that accelerator, with the 3.2 litre engine roaring into action at the most delicate of touches! This is a car which is raring to go from the minute you turn the key – the engine sounds fresh and full of life – with no knocks, untoward unexpected noise or smokey emissions suggesting anything out of the ordinary.
On test, the transmission worked as expected and the vehicle got up to temperature as you’d expect. There were no warning lights present and the vehicle not only performed as expected, but left us wanting to take it home ourselves such was the power and breathtaking driving experience.
The due care and attention to the vehicle over the years has meant it’s as close to ‘driving from new’ as one might hope to get. A glance through recent MOTs of the past five years shows the vehicle most years doesn’t even clock up 1,000 miles between MOTs. It really is a car which has been saved for best.
No additional upgrades have been undertaken on this and service history indicates regular servicing from new and various bills for small maintenance jobs – there is nothing to suggest change of engine/gearbox or vital components and it is with good faith we believe both engine and gearbox to be original to the car.
An under bonnet inspection did not reveal any causes for concern and all perishable items, clips and plastic components looked to be present and without damage or degradation. There are also no fluids being lost.
The interior of this BMW is truly breathtaking. With very little wear overall, it looks far newer than you’d expect and has been well cared for consistently, which has ensured all the trim has remained in great shape.
All interior switches, lights and infotainment system work as you’d expect and the dials and buttons on these do not show signs of wear.
There are light signs of wear to the high traffic areas: the driver’s seat leather is a little more worn than the passenger and rear seats (which both look good as new) and the gear stick which is leather bound, is also showing light signs of wear.
This car is an exceptional example of a BMW E46 M3, having been owned by the current owner for the past seven years. Throughout the life of the vehicle, the car has been shown a level of love and care that perhaps is unrivalled by any other E46 M3 on the market at this time. Such is the level of dedication, the car has only ever been filled with 99RON fuel (with receipts to prove this across multiple owners) and full BMW dealer service history, including the PDI.
The vehicle has been used sparingly and presents future owners with an exciting array of opportunities for the car: from investment piece to exceptional example to be used and enjoyed with an ‘almost new’ feeling to it.
The E46 is a classic in its own right, the M3 even more so. This is the car to buy now, enjoy now and appreciate as the decades go on. Don’t let this car pass you by and leave you with that ‘what if’ feeling. Potential purchasers will be delighted with this car, it’ll be a hard one to beat for both condition and historical documentation.
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