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Old 01-23-2017, 11:35 PM   #1
Doctor Mudgeon
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 6,411
Bimmer Evolution, blee edition

I've owned a modest number of cars in my life, and while I've liked pretty much all of them, I've owned more BMWs than any other marque. And after five-and-a-half years of daily driving a pickup, I found myself needing a "beater" to deal with parking garages and tight spaces. Sure, someone smart would buy an old Civic and use it without worrying about things like subframe-related cracks, rod bearings, or VANOS failures. But I never said I was particularly smart.

After about a month of searching, I found a Jet Black/Gray '03 coupe, 6MT, in Raleigh. Yesterday, fog in Detroit caused a three-hour delay on my flight from Norfolk to New York, where airframe and crew rest issues led to boarding two different planes before eventually getting to Raleigh, five hours later than planned. Gotta love flying. On the bright side, I spent the night with a good friend of mine who I hadn't seen in almost ten years. (NB: He's become a bit of an engine swap junkie...his E39 Touring with a supercharged S62 in it is pretty freaking amazing. He also has a 325iT with an S54 powertrain and M3 suspension.)

I went over the shop today to pick it up. The car is in great shape; very solid mechanically, and pretty clean cosmetically. The engine is quiet and smooth, the suspension is solid. I'd forgotten what it was like to drive a powerful car that can corner; my drive home was worth all of the trouble from the day before. There are a couple of things that need to be addressed, like a cracked windshield (already paid for, getting done tomorrow), some intermittent wiper weirdness (possibly related to the windshield), and an issue with the auto tilting mirror not returning. But other than being paranoid, I could drive this car without doing anything for quite some time.

Not that that'll actually happen. The next big items will be rod bearing and front suspension bushings. After that it's VANOS servicing time. I could probably buy a Civic for all the work I have planned over the next year or so, and I already hear the counterpoints to the S54, but I don't care. This car is amazing.

I still smart from the sale of my '88 M3, not just because of its appreciation curve, but also because it is a truly special car that doesn't come around very often. The E46 M3, while nowhere near as exclusive, is also one of those cars. I wonder if I'll get bored with it...I don't think I will. Here are some photos for memory's sake, along with a shot of the new ride next to the 325iT.
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Old 01-23-2017, 11:47 PM   #2
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Old 01-24-2017, 12:20 AM   #3
What ev's
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Wow ... great story, congrats ... that car is a beauty and that 325 is sharp as well
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Old 01-24-2017, 12:50 AM   #4
Old Fart
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Sweet M cars

You seem to like black
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Old 01-24-2017, 06:44 AM   #5
Josh (PA)
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Carmudgeonly Ride: '03 325xiT, '11 135i C, '13 X5 n55
Location: Downingtown, PA
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Very cool. Congrats.

Please ask your friend to list the wagon here if he ever wants to sell.
Josh (PA) -
'11 135i convertible
'13 X5 n55
'03 325 wagon
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Old 01-24-2017, 07:30 AM   #6
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Awesome! As with George W. Bush, I feel like it may be time for me to reevaluate my opinion of the E46 M3.
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Old 01-24-2017, 07:23 PM   #7
Doctor Mudgeon
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Originally Posted by JST View Post
Awesome! As with George W. Bush, I feel like it may be time for me to reevaluate my opinion of the E46 M3.
Funny, I had pretty much the same thoughts (down to the Bush part) as I was driving back from Raleigh.

I will say that as far as daily drivers go, the E46 M3 is not going to be everyone's cup of tea. It's quite tractable and calm around town, but no one will convince me that a GTI or Civic wouldn't be better. It's also a 13.5-year-old car now, which is seriously great, but also old. I've chuckled more than once as I re-learned to hold the turn signal to change lanes, to keep the ignition turned until the engine turns over, and so on. And yes, my years of truck driving have truly dulled my car-driving abilities -- I'm pretty clumsy behind the wheel, and I'm only just starting to pay closer attention to things like potholes and non-flat approach angles.

Everything's forgiven when I hit the on-ramp and let the (warmed-up) engine sing to redline. My E36 was good, my E30 was much better, and this E46 magnifies that experience so nicely. It's a throwback to old-school performance tech, a nod to current-gen comfort, and an example of classic German charm.

...Plus, it's Jet Fockin' Black.
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Old 01-24-2017, 08:03 AM   #8
lawn boy
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Carmudgeonly Ride: e46m3, f25x3,C5 Z06, C4 Vette, 06 CTD Ram, and a trailer
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It looks good in photos for sure. Congrats.

At this point I doubt I'll ever get rid of mine. I will be curious to see the condition of your bearings when you get that done.
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Old 01-24-2017, 08:09 AM   #9
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Old 01-24-2017, 09:12 AM   #10
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Congrats! That looks like a great example, have fun with it!
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