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Buying an E46 M3

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If you have fallen in love with the E46 M3 it’s no wonder.

The car is an outstanding classic, it’s a driver’s car by all standards and it looks just great with beautiful lines, powerful and yet somewhat understated. Pure “Spitze”-engineering, German when it’s best. And it provides music when the engine approaches 8.000 rpm.

Indeed it’s difficult not to love.

But be aware: Nothing comes for free. It will cost you some money to own and drive. How much depends on you. If you find a well-kept specimen with the weaknesses taken care of and you treat it well yourself, the maintenance costs will be quite reasonable.

In this video Darragh Doyle, the owner of Everything M3s, gives a pretty detailed walk through of items to look out for when you look for your potential E46 M3. It also presents a comparison between the M3 and the M3 CSL :
BMW M3 (E46) | Buyers guide with Everything M3s

A good link, but perhaps not "everything":

Everything You Need to Know Before Buying an E46 M3

BMW E46 M3 Buying Guide: The Last Of A Special Breed

10 Things Everyone Forgot About The BMW E46 M3

This link is comprehensive and good – but bear in mind that the publisher has a stake in the game (selling aftermarket parts): The Definitive BMW E46 M3 Buyer's Guide

When looking for your potential E46 M3 there are things to look out for – see my recommendations.

Mechanical Problem



It seems as if the prices for a second hand E46 M3 in US and UK are pretty low. There are exceptions, but generally the car seems to appeal to another group than on continental Europe. Perhaps the current (2023) economic situation in especially UK has a significant impact.

On continental Europe a good place to follow the prices is I have done this for some time – to be honest since 2018. My finding is that statistically the most determining factor is mileage. It is significant which is clear on the below graph. Plotting against age (first registration) or optional equipment does not show any correlations. Naturally I cannot based on adverts judge/plot against the cars condition or like, however the correlation between price and mileage is so strong, that other factors are modifications.

The distribution off the trend-line may be caused by service history, rod bearings done, VANOS rebuild, reinforcement of RACP etc. Personally I haven’t been able to isolate such effects.

Dedicated "track - tools" are not included.

Update: Announced prices on per 1st half 2024. 
Note that the trendline for 2024 actually goes through the 2023 trendline points. That means that prices in 2024 are very much as in 2023.

I wrote above that prices in UK and US are normally quite low compared to continental Europe, but sometimes the prices go a bit wild. In May 2024 there was a bidding contest in USA for a Laguna Seca E46 M3 with only 28.689 miles.
The auction ended somewhat dramatic on USD 111.000. Normally this is the price tag for a CSL, but this was not a CSL – “just” a rare Laguna Seca over Cinnamon interior with low mileage.

See the video: I Spent Six Figures on a BMW e46 M3...:

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