BMW M3 (E46) Convertible
Alex Hull ‘It remains comfy, solid, and reliable enough to jump in regularly’
Dream car: Porsche 911 Turbo
Why choose it?
It feels old enough to tick the 'old car' box but remains comfy, solid and reliable enough to jump in regularly.
What's the best bit and why?
I never get tired of the straight six noise!
What's the worst bit and why?
The convertible roof. It spends much of its time with the factory hard top in place. Removing it is a two-man job!
It has a shorter gear knob and gaiter from a later M5.
What's the parts and servicing like? Any suggested specialists?
Parts are expensive but available. The 'Inspection 2' service is the one to watch for - it's due every fourth service and costs around £800-£1000. This includes a check/adjustment of the valve clearances, important to keep the engine up on power. I've befriended a local independent - Marc's Independent BMW in Aldridge, West Mids. He's straight talking and fair on labour.
Which clubs and online groups help?
The M3 Cutters forum is very active and has an answer for everything!
Any advice for potential owners?
Don't use up all your budget on the purchase (like I did!). The age of these cars means they will need money spending on them. Among the best money you can spend, if it's not had it already, is on new suspension. I've replaced mine with original BMW parts and it's transformed the drive.
Any funny mishaps?
One day I put the roof down and the plastic linkage snapped and pierced the headlining. Cue lots of cursing.
This is apparently a common failure (called 'batwings' in BMW world) and has been a pain to get fixed.