Your first oversteer car - BMW M3 E46 buying guide

What to look for, and how much to pay when buying a BMW M3 E46

The M version of the E46 arrived in 2001, its 3.2-litre straight-six featuring an evolution of the 330Ci’s Double Vanos variable valve timing, while a lightweight crankshaft and graphite-coated aluminium pistons allowed it to spin at 8000rpm. In 2003, the £58K CSL brought 355bhp, a carbonfibre roof, cut-slick tyres and a price tag £20K over the basic car. The halfway-house CS of 2005 was an evo favourite.

HOW MUCH TO RUN ONE?

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It’s scarcely believable that E46 M3s can be as little as six grand, but obviously be cautious at that price. From £7K there’s a huge choice, and £10K buys a very good car.

CHECKPOINTS

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Good servicing is crucial, including the run-in service at 1200 miles – the cheaper the car, the more likely that corners have been cut. Pre-June ’03 engines were prone to crankshaft big-end bearing failure; oil supply upgrades should have been sorted under warranty. The 19in alloys are easily kerbed, and repairs are costly. Uprated brakes are a boost for trackday users. Find out more at m3cutters.co.uk

SERVICE: £180TYRES (two rear, fitted): £436EXHAUST (fitted, cat-back): £900INSURANCE*: £600ROAD TAX (12 months): £270FUEL** (10,000 miles): £2156 TOTAL: £4542

* Insurance based on a 30-year-old male, two years’ NCD, living in Stamford, office worker, no accidents or convictions. Quotes from Adrian Flux (adrianflux.co.uk).

** Fuel cost based on official ‘combined’ mpg and unleaded at £1.35 per litre

Find used BMW M3's for sale Classic and Performance Car site here.

Specifications

BMW M3 E46
Engine Straight-six, 3246cc
Max power 338bhp @ 7900rpm
Max torque 269lb ft @ 5000rpm
Weight (kerb) 1495kg
Power-to-weight 230bhp/ton
0-60mph 5.1sec
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Years ’00-’07
Price when new £39,730 (2004)
Price today £7000-£12,000
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