Tuesday, September 15, 2015

German For Sportscar: 2003 BMW M3 E46

This next feature comes as a "friend of the seller" submission from Rich who writes my friend from church is selling his BMW M3...it would be a blast to see his car on DT and show him that I submitted it. I think he'd really appreciate it.  Rich- You had me at M3.  Find this 2003 BMW M3 offered for $19,500 CAD ($14,704 USD) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, via kijiji.ca.

The E46 generation M3 is a fabulous performance bargain on the used market today and you might find yourself asking why?  The answer is simple -- BMW flooded the market with 85,000 of these screaming coupes from 2001-2006.  It was great for BMW (lots of revenue/profit in the 2000s) and great for tightwad sports car hunters today.

The heartbeat of the E36 M3 is the S54 naturally aspirated inline six that puts 333 horsepower and 262 ft-lbs of torque into a 6-speed manual gearbox. No balky SMG transmission in this one, just a pure and simple 6-speed with its clutch release delay valve removed. 

For the most part this E46 M3 appears well preserved, and the biggest modification is the use of aftermarket Bilstein coilovers -- which will allow ride height and shock damping adjustment. Read more about the car on the seller's M3Forum.net post here.

Got your own whip for sale? Send it here: tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. I'm going to break my current self-imposed commenting rule, be a Mr. Downer Dissenter here and toss out my admittedly horribly negative comment that the M3 is not in any way a sports car, by any definition. Flame me if you will but that's my opinion. I can think of a million other, very positive ways to describe it but not that one.

    Nit-picky and pedantic, I know. Still.

    1. OK, K2, why isn't it a sports car? Superb handling? check; screaming, naturally aspirated engine? check; 6 speed manual transmission: check. Is it the 4 doors? The presence of a back seat?

    2. Thanks for asking, Arlow. None of the first three criteria define whether a vehicle is a sports car or not, with the arguable exception of the transmission.

      If we accept the old school definition of sports car, it must be a two-seater convertible. Otherwise, it's a GT, which this car is. That is in no way a bad thing.

      But I get that the combination of the words sports and car have been bandied about with such recklessness that it's a mess.

      My 951 was not a sports car in my book, for example, but my NA most definitely is. There aren't too many real sports cars on the market right now. From BMW, they start with the letter Z.

      You're free to disagree, of course. But I think DTers are too sophisticated to accept that any 3-Series is a true sports car, by definition. Not to say they aren't iconic and a vital part of car history.

    3. Unfortunately you didn't define a sports car, you defined a "roadster". Related, but different.

      Most definitions say "USUALLY two seaters" (implying "but not always"), but I have never seen a sports car definition that says "convertible". In fact, at most tracks these days, good luck getting your sport on in any convertible that doesn't have a full blown roll cage.

    4. Agreed but that is one definition. Just not mine. Nor many others. Maybe we're too old school.

    5. Besides, what else is there to be said about the M3 here on DT? Seriously.

    6. Merriam-Webster: "a low, small car that seats two people and that is made for fast driving"

      Collins: "a production car designed for speed, high acceleration, and manoeuvrability, having a low body and usually adequate seating for only two persons."

      Cambridge: "a ​fast, ​low car, often ​big enough for only two ​people."

      Oxford: "A low-built car designed for performance at high speeds, often having a roof that can be folded back."

      Macmillan: "a small fast car, often with a roof that you can take off."

    7. Apparently more others than you think, K2.

    8. I don't think the above makes a case for either of you.

    9. I didn't want to where G went but I'm glad he did, with the dictionary definitions. I've had this very discussion with many, many fellow car enthusiasts over the years and it always gets as heated as it has here. That's awesome, I think!

      Two of the five definitions mention a folding/removable roof and three of the five mention it being a two-seater. Fine. But five of the five mention being fast and I'd argue with that; what is fast? That can't be defined easily. You have to factor in what's happening historically with particular models and all that. What was fast in the 60s is not the same now, so that one is just too confusing to me.

      Regarding the M3 not being a sports car; it's exactly as I stated; in my opinion. As I also stated, I happen to know lots of folks who agree with me wholeheartedly. And as is clearly evident, there are many that do not. Again - awesome! It's all good.

      Another way that to state what I think is the definition of a sports car is...you know one when you see one. I also believe that there is a clear and defined lack of comfort that must exist in the true sports car design. The car must require more focus that the everyday car (whatever that might be). For example, the Ariel Atom and Lotus Seven (pick a clone, if you'd like)...to me, those are perfect sports cars.

      The incredible M3, in comparison, has too much in the way of comfort. Too much for the definition; it's something else.

      Back to G's quotes; the M3 does not match any of those definitions. At nearly 15 feet long, while certainly not BIG, it's not small and it doesn't seat just two people (only).


    10. So from my perspective, thanks for those, G!

    11. I didn't want to go where G went...I meant to write.

    12. Just for fun, here are some more cars that most would consider sports cars that don't meet your definition:

      NSX--fixed roof, to comfy (Watch Senna drive this around Suzuka and tell me it's not a sports car)


      Ferrari 458---fixed roof, too comfy


      Alfa 4C--fixed roof (decidedly not comfy)


      Lotus Exige - fixed roof


      McLaren F1 - (gets 3 strikes in the K2 Lexicon) Fixed roof, comfy, seats more than 2


      In other words, I think it has everything to do with the sporting pretensions, intentions, and capabilities of the car, right off the showroom floor, than it does any single arbitrary parameter, and by that definition, the e46 M3 WAS a sports car. By that same definition, the current model M3 probably is not---it's far closer to the e39 M5 in purpose and intent than the e46, and it takes a lot more work to make one track-worthy.

    13. I thought the M3 coupe no longer exists...isn't it the M4 these days? Oy vey, I'm gonna get flamed for that, too.

      I don't think you really want to know which of those cars I'd consider a sports car but here goes. STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT I THINK. You're welcome, I just saved you much teeth gnashing and grinding and your dentist will thank me.

      None of them. They're all sports coupes or to push it even further (where are my Westex undies?), they're supercars. Only the Alfa and the Lotus are even remotely close to my definition of a true sports car. The others are too big. And as you pointed out, the roofs don't fold.

      IMO, Acura has never produced a proper sports car, with the NSX being a supercar. I always felt that they should have marketed the S2K, a real and proper sports car, as an Acura.


      You said it about the Ferrari and I totally agree. To me, they're all supercars. I can't think of a real Ferrari sports car. I'll leave it to G to correct me on that one but I think they're all too intent on other things, the least of which being a sports car.

      The 4C cracks me up; I've never seen a company give such a song a dance not calling their car what it is - a targa. The 939 was the last sports car that Alfa produced, in my opinion and the argument could be made that a real sports car must have rear-wheel drive...so there's that. The 8C Spider was a supercar and was arguably too big and heavy.


    14. continued....

      The Lotus is too much of a track-day car. It's obvious in every detail. If they're (Lotus) not supercars, then they're race cars that just so happened to end up on the street. They're not designed to do much else (which is awesome, btw). A car with a 1.8 Toy in it (uh oh, somebody's gonna give me hell over the 1ZZ-FED/2ZZ-GE distinction...I know already!) that is a sports car would be something like the MR2 Spyder.


      ...which brings up an interesting item. By MY DEFINITION, engine placement does not define whether a vehicle is a sports car or not. I'm surprised you guys didn't try to fire a rocket at me for that one. Slipped a fast one past you, I did. AND, a sports car is not, as FTB brought up, a track or race car. They often make good ones but plenty of them also rather suck. I'd be surprised if there are many stock (non-turbo) Miatas that positively clean the clocks of every M3 they race against (unless the track favors the Miata, of course). The power difference, the suspension setup...well, you can correct me on that one but it won't surprise me if I'm right. I've never driven an M3 where I thought to myself, "Hmm, I could use some more horsepower here."

      My NA is supercharged....uh, yeah. Needs more power, IN MY OPINION. Fabulous, now I'm going to get flamed by my fellow Miataites. I just can't win for losing today.

      The McLaren is a supercar by any definition. Which also begs the question; does a real sports car have to be below a certain amount of MSRP? I would argue yes. I think nowadays, it needs to be below $40K. Unless it's a collectible, then I can see it being more $$$. But it wasn't likely the original MSRP, now was it? But not a new sports car. Otherwise, it wanders into other categories (supercar, GT, sports coupe, personal coupe, etc).

      If anybody wants the K2 sports car decision, throw other cars at me and I'll give you my personal verdict. I'll be surprised if anybody does because you care as much about what I think now as you did when we began this conversation. That's okay, it doesn't hurt my feelings. Why would you? That would be a conversation....scary!

      See, Sean? I'm plenty crabby. Probably way more than you are. Ha!

      Of course, I get the street cred for starting this conversation today. Otherwise, it would just be another day, just like the last. There would be no differentiation. I should pass a hat but I don't want to get spit on.

      But if the cars that FTB picked are sports cars to you guys, THEN THAT'S GREAT! More power to you. You get to think whatever you want and so do I.

    15. If there's still some fight left in my fellow DTers, let me beat you to the punch. There are several cars that meet my criteria that clearly aren't sports cars, bust my design criteria and you can feel superior because I'm such an idiot. I've had this conversation so many times that I might as well write the words for you and put this out there. It's like I can read your mind...

      The original first gen Mursosaycanyouseedeez-Bends R170 SLK ticked all of the boxes; it was a two-seater, it had a folding roof, it was relatively small and light, it had an MSRP around $40K (that was admittedly too easy to blow past)...it seems like it would be another example of what I say/think of as a real sports car.

      But I've never met another enthusiast who disagreed with me that it clearly wasn't. It's something else; a personal coupe, if you will, but not a sports car. Yes, the manufacturer didn't initially offer a manual transmission and that was definitely a factor but there are other cues, like the engine note and suspension setup, that it's something else. It could have been but it just...isn't.


      Crossfire that across your bow.

      You SLK owners out there; I'm NOT knocking your car, just discussing if it's a sports car or not. It's still a great car and if you like yours, that's wonderful; keep on keepin' on.

    16. Well, at least we have one piece of common ground. The SLK clearly ain't a sports car.

  2. Can't believe my friend submitted this here, what an honour. Thanks for the highlight DT, much appreciated.

    Here is a link to the For Sale thread on M3Forum.net for anyone interested:

  3. Whoops, link didn't work above. Here we go again: http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=531931

    Would it be acceptable for me to link this page into my for sale ads? Let me know, thanks!

    1. M3 Seller, I will add the above link to the body of the feature, and feel free to link this page in other adverts.

      -Vince DT Editor-in-Chief

  4. K2 - thanks for commenting on a car that you have never owned, driven (or driven in?)

    Your thorough research is greatly appreciated

    1. You're welcome to your negative comment but that doesn't make you right on any point except the ownership point. You should read my comments again and try to understand what I actually wrote.

    2. I'd like to know how you define 'sports car'.

      Pointy nose? Two seats? Roadster? Specialized design not shared with some lowly sedan? Butt no more than eight inches off the ground?

      I would not call an E46 M3 a 'sports car', but it pretty much defined the 'sport coupe' segment.

    3. If we can't comment on cars we've never owned or driven, the comments will be few and far between around here.

      I'm no fan of K2 (or BMWs), but A) he didn't make any negative comment about the M3 and B) he's offering an opinion on the definition of a term ("sports car") that's been often corrupted. He doesn't need to be a BMW owner/driver to do so.

      This M3 is a very nice car. But it is a sporty version of a coupe. It is not a sports car. I would hesitate to even call it a GT. Why? Because of its size and that there is a six under the hood. A true GT is a bigger, long distance car with a V8 or larger. The old 850 BMWs were GT cars. GTs are usually at the top of a manufacturer's model lineup.

      Here's the thing... Back in the day, manufacturer's had pretty clearly defined model categories and market segments to offer. As a consumer, it was easier to deal with. Now there are so many cross-over, market-straddling, bastardizations on the road it's hard to know what's what. Even Mercedes has a stupid new mini SUV that is shown in their TV ad as a cross between their SL and their G-Wagen. Seriously, WTF!?

      So there is a way anyone can argue the modern definitions of automotive classifications. Gone are the days where any car with performance had to be defined as a sports car. I'd suggest that era ended when muscle cars became popular.

    4. Well, Ford never put a Frontenac head in a production Model T...but there's always been cars that were not supposed 'sports cars' that were quite a bit more interesting than average. The Duesenberg Model A comes to mind, hitting the market when Duesey won the French Grand Prix in 1921, a very different and to my mind more desirable piece of hardware than the later J and SJ.

      You could spend all kinds of time debating the origins of the 'modern sport sedan' but in my, ahem, humble opinion it has to fall somewhere between the Jag Mark I/Mark II and the Mk1 Lotus Cortina/Cortina GT.

    5. Wow. Those are the stupidest assumptions about K2 I've read so far on Daily Turismo. If you'd just shut up and pay attention to what he wrote, you might learn a thing or two. As the owner of a TR2, you're NEVER going to convince me that ANY three series is a proper sports car. That would be almost as stupid as those assumptions you so inaccurately made.

    6. Hmm.

      That was an interesting sequence of thought.

    7. Damn. I lost Anonymous as a fan. I'm crushed; we go way back. Ah, well.

      Thanks, Bolo! You da man. Any new cars? Shoot me an email offline and catch me up on your newest adventures. Haven't heard from you in a couple of days...what, you got a life or something?

  5. Nice-looking car.

    I might not have gone quite so aggressive on wheel/tire size for a road car but that depends on how else it's going to be used, and it's fairly readily changeable. The Bilsteins are a good choice.

    The rear suspension-mount work is critical on these and it looks like it's been dealt with thoroughly.

  6. You are right K2 please accept my apologies for acting up.
    Yes the M3 is basically just a coupe, saloon, and sometimes a sedan.
    This being said it does do "sports car" better than most sports cars out there.

    1. No problem, Sean! Thanks for being receptive to the idea that I may have a differing opinion. Obviously, there are just as many DTers who feel otherwise. You'll get absolutely no argument from me that the M3 does the sports car-like thing better than SO MANY other cars that should do it better.

      When I bought my 951, I got it from a guy who was selling it to pay for a used M3. It made absolutely perfect sense to me at the time. The two have many similar qualities, with the M3 being even more usable everyday IN MY OPINION (sorry for the shouting, just don't want to get flamed for that too).

      Like I said, when was the last time we had a heated discussion here on DT about the M3? Oops, that might have been me again, the last time over the SMG. But normally we get like somewhere between 3-8 comments. This post is already up to two dozen.

      Somebody's got to be the bad guy or we're all glad handing each other. How much fun would that be, I ask you? I didn't set out to be the villain here, btw. That wasn't my intention. I just wanted to discuss what the definition of a sports car is.

      You ROCK, Sean! Everybody gets grumpy every now and then, especially me..

    2. This has been the most interesting post of the week, not because of the car, but because of the comments. But you are wrong. Yes you. All of you. I am a sportscar.

    3. Huh. I thought you were a little teapot. Or tea pot, in this case. I learned something new today.

  7. — Well, Socrates, I am happy to tell you what a sandwich is, as I have great knowledge of these things as you know.
    — Thank you, Euthyphro, I will be glad to listen to you, for you are a learned man and I am just a poor beggar. So tell me, please, how can we know that which is a sandwich, apart from those things that are not sandwiches?
    — Socrates, it could not be more simple. A sandwich is anything edible held in a container that is also edible.
    — I see; that is very clear indeed. So this taco is a sandwich.
    — No Socrates, that is a taco. A sandwich is something quite different, as you may quickly see by noting that they are called by different names.
    — And yet, Euthyphro, here we have some soy ground beef—surely this is edible—and as you see, it is held in this container, which is a fried tortilla, and which I eat along with the material inside. Surely this is a sandwich!
    — Well, Socrates, that is not quite right. I will try to be more clear: a sandwich is that which is edible, held in a container made of bread, surely.
    — So then this hot dog, of course, is a sandwich. Thank you, Euthyphro!
    — Well Socrates… a hot dog is something very like a sandwich, and yet it does not seem to me to be exactly a sandwich either, somehow. I see where you have misunderstood—let me clarify. A sandwich consists of some edible material, in between TWO pieces of bread, which must be separate from one another.
    — I see; that is very clear indeed. So this pizza placed face down atop this other pizza, this is a sandwich.
    — No, Socrates, I see that you do not understand at all. That is nothing like a sandwich.
    — Now Euthyphro, how can this be? For truly here I see edible items—those are cheese, tomato sauce, and vegan pepperoni—and they are indeed to be found in between two pieces of bread—that is the pizza crust. How can this not be a sandwich, then?
    — Well, Socrates, you have twisted my words around somehow. I did not mean ANY edible items in between ANY type of bread; I meant something rather more specific.
    — Now Euthyphro, you are teasing a poor old man. You told me you would explain what a sandwich was, so that I might learn from your wisdom, yet now you seem to have told me nothing at all.
    — Socrates, I will try to explain so that you might understand. A sandwich must be easily held in the hands, whereas two pizzas atop one another, as I’m sure you can see, are quite impossible to hold easily in the hands, as the whole is much too large and floppy.
    — Ah, thank you Euthyphro, now I feel we are getting somewhere. Truly, now I think I understand. If a sandwich is something edible in between two pieces of bread, with the whole composed in such a way as to be easily held within the two hands, then obviously three pieces of bread, held together in the hands, is a sandwich.
    — I do not see what you mean, Socrates. Surely a stack of pieces of bread is simply a loaf of bread, as any man knows.
    — Now Euthyphro, you seem to be teasing me again, for look, here is a piece of edible bread, placed in between two other pieces of bread, the whole of which, you must agree, I hold quite easily in my hands, withered and shaking though they may be.
    — Well Socrates, it is true, now that I think on it, that these three pieces of bread do in fact ascribe to my earlier definition. And yet, anyone could tell you that this is not a sandwich.
    — Then Euthyphro I think you must start over, if you are ever to help me understand. Come now, don’t keep an old man waiting. Surely one as learned as you should easily be able to explain what a sandwich is to a poor old fool such as myself. Please begin again, and this time try to be more clear.
    — Socrates I really must go, I will be late for my appointment.


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