This is the worst e46 M3 in the world

And it's mine! I found the worst version of one of the best neo-classics. There is, however, a catch...

MT Blake posted in USA News
2w ago

What is it that makes a car great, and what makes one terrible? If we were to take a survey of the 'Ten Greatest Cars Ever' you're likely to get an eclectic group of automotive heroes. You're likely to get a highly unusual list for the 'Ten Worst' as well. And with both, you're likely to see some fistfights against cars left off the good list and those added to the worst list. We can't agree on everything! What we can agree on: the e46 M3 is a good car; this one is, however, the worst one found anywhere...

The e46 M3 was birthed in a time when BMW--and just about every other car company--was switching from 'chassis cars' to 'horsepower cars'. That's to say, they went from producing an excellent chassis to a car where the gobs of power masked any chassis flex and understeer. And if the chassis engineers couldn't fix the understeer, the powertrain doctors just added more power for oversteer fun!

You know it well, well enough to know you want one.

I really don't need to go over the details of these cars, their reputation is well known. The e46 M3 is often regarded as one of the best M3s ever--sometimes even the best. The inertia these cars have has carried well over the last twenty years. They're basic when compared to modern cars. The power is adequate. The chassis is superb. Even the luxury feels adequate, considering how luxury back then is an upscale Civic today.

Play video

I remember when the e46 M3 came out. If you don't, just know it reviewed rather well. But, even the worst critics can find flaws with a masterpiece. At a respectable 333 horsepower, it didn't seem like enough power, especially when viewed through the telescope of time. The power, however, wasn't the point: this car was a chassis car--BMW was still a few short years away from high revving V10s and twin-turbo everything. It seemed heavy too, even though in the trimmest form it was a mere 3415lbs and a chunky 3781 in convertible and SMG form. (The following iteration of M3 (E90) would sit firmly on the high end of that scale.)

The forbidden jungle juice.

The forbidden jungle juice.

These cars could be had in a lighter package, handled well, and were luxurious. The first owners were the elite professionals. The second owners were those resembling something off 'Jersey Shore'. While the third owners were likely those who had a passion to own one, but never the money until the doctor and pretty-boy-bro got their hands on it and nearly destroyed it. This car likely went through all three owners, before it was left for dead and fell into the hands of some 'stimulant addicted, rubber-tramps'. Do you catch my drift?!

This is why we can't have nice things...

I'd like to think the bolstered seats allowed some nights of carefree sleep. Or that when friends stayed the night, the top was folded down for that 'outside/inside' glamping aesthetic. Lord knows, by evidence of the trash, many fast food meals and gas station drinks were consumed inside. But it's far more likely the OEM BMW key was used for key-bumps and that's why I don't have it. This car was dropped off with its top-up, all windows up, and all entry points locked and closed. The passenger rear quarter window was broken, but little good did that do: the double-locking doors cannot (I repeat cannot) be unlocked by pulling on the inner door handle.

Play video

Sadly, there was NO OTHER WAY into this car. I originally was told the key 'might be in the trunk'. Spoiler alert: it wasn't. I might upset some of you with my vandalism... I chose to break the OEM passenger glass and weasel my fat body over and into the interior--a tetanus shot would have been a good idea prior to entering this den of filth. I was able to stretch over the hypodermic needle caps and two-year-old fermented foodstuffs to the hood release. With the hood open, I was able to attach a jumper pack and press the unlock switch. The doors were now half unlocked. I opened the door via the inner door handle and unlock this non-driving M3.

I'd like to take this time to advise you, I took THREE 33-GALLON trash bags of trash out of this car. The broken rear window allowed in just enough water so that when I removed the rear seats, I found the world's most virulent soup. Worried about the next 'variant of concern'? It came from under the rear seats of this car. Thankfully, due to the weather, the smell wasn't too bad. Had I torn through this car on a sweltering July day, I'd have tossed my cookies everywhere inside this car--a likely improvement to the smell.

Play video

Due to the technology of this 2004 BMW M3, I wouldn't be hotwiring or breaking the ignition to allow the engine to run. I was thankful the computers came to life and allowed me to unlock the doors--I couldn't ask for much more than that! The car did run prior to being in a tow yard for two years. The odometer shows a mere 87k miles. If this LCI, convertible, and SMG equipped car was a cream puff, it would be worth around $15,000. I bought it for a tenth of that.

Fifteen grand for a clean example, equipped like this, is a small amount of money... compared to what these cars CAN sell for. This M3 is the worst example of the worst example. That's to say, the convertible and SMG-equipped cars are terrible. No one wants these. Anytime you cut the roof off a car, you're doing it a disservice. And anyone with an SMG will tell you they aren't as fun as a manual, nor are they as good as a dual-clutch.

Decisions. Decisions...

Everyone wants the slick top and six-speed manual cars (Laguna Seca and CSL being the ultimate version, IMHO). This terrible M3 was then abused for god knows how long. It's in such a sad state of affairs, it cannot be put back on the road. This car is going to be stripped of all its valuable parts (the S54 is in running shape, go look up prices on eBay) and then the chassis is getting sent back on a tow truck to be smushed. But like I've said, this is a terrible M3, it doesn't deserve to be put back on the road; let's use the parts to help put a slick top, manual-equipped version back on the road!

Or better yet... what should I use the parts for? I've always wanted to create an e46 M3 touring (at one point I owned a super clean 01' 325i touring that would have been a good candidate for some of these parts). Even a sedan could make for a fun chassis to slap on a bunch of M3 parts. The lights are all in good condition, and being they are all LCI examples, they're desirable. The chassis isn't twisted and it doesn't appear it's been in any major collisions, so the front and rear subframes and suspension could be swapped over to a non-M car.

The engine in this car is by far the most valuable piece. Someone might even need a 'questionable SMG' for cheap. I surely won't be swapping the SMG into anything. I already own an SMG-equipped BMW, and as epic, as my e60 M5 is, you can't be a manual in the 'fun factor' category. Even the interior parts could be reused, as long as it gets new leather.

Alas, unless the right car lands in my driveway (a Dodge landed with a broken transmission, followed by an old green Ford), I don't think I'll be undertaking an M3 clone car. I'd love to swap over the engine into a wagon or sedan, but like everything, time and money are limiting. What 'might' (keyword) happen is a light homage to this M3. Imagine all the lighting, body parts (depending on the chassis), and suspension parts swapped onto a sedan or touring! Even a 330ci car is a possibility. I won't limit my imagination so soon in the gestation process! Stick shift cars need only to apply...

And if you're curious to watch all the videos of this disgusting, neglected, and battered M3, follow the link here: MT Blake YouTube

Join In

Comments (32)

  • If it was property, you’ve bought the worst house in the best street.

      13 days ago
  • I've seen worse in some used car dealership lots. There's a lot of work to be done and quite expensive if you ask me. eBay may save on some of the costs but it's going to cost a lot. Some would say it's a lost cause but there is potential here.

      14 days ago
    • You’ve seen worse? Did you see the pond water inside it?! This thing was a home for three tweakers!

        14 days ago
  • It does deserve to be put back on the road, its a bloody m3. Or use it to build an m3 wagon.

      13 days ago
    • Deserve it or not, it can’t happen. This car is an organ donor… wagon maybe?!

        13 days ago
  • Make it a demo derby car

      14 days ago
  • Engine goes in an e30. BAM! Ultimate car. Ur welcome.

      14 days ago