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?

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

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

2021 Land Rover Discovery 5 updated with fresh tech and engines
Land Rover Discovery

2021 Land Rover Discovery 5 updated with fresh tech and engines

Updated Discovery receives latest JLR engines and re-emphasises its family focus
10 Nov 2020
2021 BMW iX revealed – the next big leap towards BMW’s BEV future
BMW

2021 BMW iX revealed – the next big leap towards BMW’s BEV future

500bhp all-electric SUV leads the charge for BMW’s EV range expansion
11 Nov 2020
BMW M550i 2020 review – the M Performance 5-series has arrived, was it worth the wait?
BMW 5 Series

BMW M550i 2020 review – the M Performance 5-series has arrived, was it worth the wait?

A desirable balance of performance and control, beautifully built and charismatic. One of BMW’s best
12 Nov 2020
Cheap BMW M3? E46, E92 and F80 go head-to-head
BMW M3 saloon

Cheap BMW M3? E46, E92 and F80 go head-to-head

You might require a second mortgage to buy an E30 BMW M3, but fear not, as there are equally appealing M Power options that won’t test your credit sco…
14 Nov 2020