When you think of a BMW M car, your first thoughts probably go to the E30 M3, E46 M3, E39 M5, or hey, even something like an M1 or an M2 Coupe. Throughout its 40+ year history, BMW's M division has produced plenty of sublime drivers' cars from the hallowed 1 Series M Coupe to the family-sized X5M and X6M. Two of the ones that often seem to be unloved within the BMW enthusiast community are the E36 M3 and E64 M6.
I recently had the opportunity to buy both of these at a great price, the M6 actually being a bargain at $24 shipped versus the M3's $45. As a lifelong BMW enthusiast, I took it upon myself to write this review to showcase what everyone seems to be missing out on. Both are Minichamps 1/43s, but the M3 actually says Maxichamps on the base despite the Minichamps logos on the box. I'll let it slide for now since I've fallen in love with it.
Ah, yes, the E36 M3. The red-headed stepchild of the M3 family. As a successor to the legendary E30 M3, the E36 had big shoes to fill in 1992 when it replaced the S14 screamer as the smaller M-car in the lineup. It was met with mixed reviews back in the day, with most of the complaints being that it felt more sedate and dull than its high-revving predecessor. To make matters worse, Americans further complained about getting a detuned version, which made 240 hp instead of the European version's 282 hp. Throughout its 7-year lifespan, it sold very well, yet was quickly forgotten in 2001 with the introduction of the E46 M3, which became the darling 6-cylinder model until the introduction of the F80 M3 and F82 M4 in 2014. I'm here to say that I absolutely adore the E36 M3, even more than both its successor AND predecessor.
As per what Minichamps says on the box, this is a 1992 M3 Coupe in Estoril Blue Metallic. It's part of a limited edition run of only 500 units, which is nice. It comes shod with DS1 wheels and has no CHMSL from what I can tell, which confirms it's a Euro-spec model. Although you can tell it's just a new rerelease of Minichamps' old E36 M3 casting, there's a lot to love here.
As per usual, Minichamps did an excellent job with smaller details, especially considering they're working with a casting that's older than I am. The paint and wheels look excellent, but the detailing on the lights leaves a little to be desired.
Although part of me wishes they would develop a new casting, I know that it wouldn't be worth it for a car that'll be mainly sold through this limited version or a few Maxichamps releases. In any case, despite a few flaws, it's a great little model.
The badging and small details throughout the car are more consistent with a relatively recent Minichamps release, which is actually a welcome sight.
Unfortunately, no model is perfect. This one has a large problem that can scare away plenty of potential buyers. If you look closely, you'll find that the windows are made of the same thin and fragile polycarbonate material you'll find on a resin model, despite the fact that this is a diecast model. This just means that you have to be careful to not push on the windows or touch them in general. They honestly feel like they're going to break if you press down on them with any force stronger than a light tap.
Despite all the nice detailing, the casting's age shows from a few angles, namely from the front when looking at it head-on. It could be better everywhere, but it's still good for what it is.
Even with its imperfections here and there, it's still a lovable model for me. Sure, everyone else might hate it, but I can go to sleep at night knowing I have a model of a car I love. Do I wish it had plastic windows and were painted Techno Violet? Absolutely. Do I still love it anyway? You're damn right I do.
Before I begin to tell you about the second car, give me a second. The 2008 financial crisis is calling. It wants its car back. Meet the Minichamps 1/43 BMW M6 Convertible (E64) in Silverstone Metallic. I can't think of a car that screams financial crisis as much as this one, which is probably the reason most BMW enthusiasts tend to look down upon it as an inferior M car.
I mean, other than the unreliable S85 V10, unreliable SMG transmission, costly top mechanism, god-awful infotainment and electronic features, and controversial styling, there must be something to love. But is there really?
Minichamps did a great job with this model, especially considering I've owned this as well as their 1/43 E64 650i Convertible. The detailing is spot-on throughout the car.
The color looks nice, but I wish it were a lighter brighter to better replicate the vaguely blue tint of the real Silverstone Metallic. Since the E64 650i I previously owned was Silver Grey Metallic, I was able to deduce that since this is lighter, it must be Silverstone since that was the only other silver available. The base says Mineral Silver, but that's an X3 and X5 color as far as I'm concerned.
I'm probably one of three people on the planet who likes the Bangle-butt era of BMW's designs. I think that they represent the mid-2000s rather well. I know that's an unpopular opinion, but I do genuinely believe that. This was one of my childhood dream cars along with the E60 M5 and E92 M3.
This is actually an SMG model due to the pattern on the shifter as well as two pedals in the footwell. The manual was a US-exclusive option. I do kind of wish this had wood trim or something to liven up the interior. I do like (and dislike) how the screen has the iDrive main screen. If you've ever used this generation of iDrive, you'll understand why I dislike it.
The Style 167 wheels look excellent as usual, especially considering this is only a 1/43 model.
As of the writing of this review, this model hasn't suffered rod bearing failure, although I'm starting to think that it might have something to do with the fact that this is only a 1/43 model. If you look closely, you'll find that Minichamps gave it an opening hood for ease of access to the S85 V10 when the rod bearings on your desk decoration decide to kick the bucket.
Jokes aside, I found that these models are just as worthy of my love and affection as cars like the M2, M4 GTS, and E92 M3. I genuinely do believe that there's a lot to love with these two little models.
While I do understand that they're not for everyone, I'm certainly glad to have them in my collection. They're not perfect, but I still love them anyway.
I'm sure I could've spent that money on other models, but something about my love for the roundel reminds me that although unloved by many, these two cars deserve a place in my constantly growing 1/43 fleet.
Would I recommend them? If you like BMWs, yes. I definitely believe they're worthy of belonging in any collection of Munich's finest. I know that they're not as interesting as an E46 M3 or 1 Series M Coupe, but if you're looking for good M cars on a budget, these are quintessential models for any BMW enthusiast on a budget.