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?

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

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

Most Popular

2022 Land Rover Defender V8 revealed – £100k supercharged off-roader gets 518bhp
Land Rover Defender V8 MY22 - header
Land Rover Defender

2022 Land Rover Defender V8 revealed – £100k supercharged off-roader gets 518bhp

The Land Rover Defender range continues to expand with its most powerful iteration yet
25 Feb 2021
Will synthetic fuel save the performance car? The manufacturers weigh in
R8 Filler cap
Porsche

Will synthetic fuel save the performance car? The manufacturers weigh in

Porsche claims a car running on eFuel will have the same CO2 footprint as an EV, and BMW, Audi, Aston Martin and McLaren all agree
24 Feb 2021
Next generation BMW M2 spied – evo favourite reimagined
2022 BMW M2 spied nose
BMW M2

Next generation BMW M2 spied – evo favourite reimagined

The next generation 2-series coupe will spawn an all-new M2 after all, spied here for the first time
25 Feb 2021