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View Full Version : E36 M3 or E46 M3?


IndyMike
12-21-2001, 12:01 PM
Hi. As a current owner of a E46 330Cic, I just sadly departed with my '92 325i not long ago, and both my wife and I are still in a state of depression. 80,000 miles in 9 1/2 years of blissful ownership.

We still see it every now and then because my neighbors sister bought it, and every once in a while they come down from their home in Chicago to visit. Kind of tears us up. Funny how you can become so attached to an inanimate object. My wife sometimes says the same thing in regards to me, particularly when I'm working on our cars:)

In many ways, particularly in regards to luxuries and amenities (heck our old 325 didn't have a cupholder, although there were these small cutouts on the inside of the glove box that were extremely useless) the Cic is a vast improvement over our former 325, and the fact that it is a cabrio makes the comparison unfair.

Yet, in many regards it's actually a step back from both the 325, and especially the '91 318is that we used to own.

Each iteration of the 3er seems to be getting softer and softer, away from it's grassroots.

I don't know if you can attribute it to TBW, or just a general determination by BMW that they want to numb and dumb the masses in order to appeal to a broader based population.

The fact is that as BMW car sales have gone up, the majority of individuals that are buying E46's are first time bimmer owners, and hence have no concept of BMW's overall heritage, nor the vehicle generations that came before the E46. Look how many posts over in that other BBS where people asked "Do I have the new or old steering?"

I'm sincerely not knocking first time 3er owners, because it's not their fault that they have no basis for comparision. But if it hadn't been for the educated enthusiast screaming and hollering about the 'new' steering BMW would still be producing 3er's with the neutered racks.

Sorry for the ramble and rant.

Anyway, the point I want to get to is that I still kind of yearn to get an E36 M3/4. Do any other current E46'ers find themselves browsing through the classifieds of automags like Roundel and Autoweek with particular interest in ads to E36 M3's?

I can remember when they first appeared in the States, and I felt that there was no way I would ever be able to afford one.

Well, God has blessed my family with a certain amount of prosperity and I am torn between getting a nice used E36 M3, or waiting a year or two and getting either a new or used E46 M3 coupe.

Any perspectives on this?

IndyMike
12-21-2001, 12:09 PM
Sincere apologies! I had no idea the text box would expand based on the .jpg file that I attached.

I hearby sentence myself to 30 lashes with a wet noodle, and will endeavor to post within the confines of human decency in the future.

TD
12-21-2001, 12:13 PM
Amen to EVERYTHING you said. But you must have missed all of my posts on this subject.

I am one of a handful of guys who got rid of E46s to pick up E36 M3s (4 of the 5 guys I can name picked up M3/4s - myself included - the other (JST) got a convertible). 2 gave up 330s, 2 gave up 325s and 1 gave up a 323. All of the scorned cars had 5-spds and the sport package.

I had a 2001 330i and was one of the loudest voices screaming about the steering early on. I took a bath on it trading it for a '98 M3/4. But the E46 just had no soul. I tried modding a soul into it with UUC sways, M3 steering wheel, UUC shift knob... Feel mods not strictly cosmetic mods. Didn't work. Each mod improved that aspect specifically but the WHOLE of the car just was not right. It was not what it should have been.

So I bit the bullet. And, in hindsight, it was the best decision I ever made. I flat-out LOVE my car.

Here's a link to the pic page I made up of my E46 that I never took down- www.geocities.com/ctd_1/BMW/ And you can see the M3 in my sig.

IndyMike
12-21-2001, 12:56 PM
It was primarily your pic's that swayed me to get Steel Gray for the Cic. I had been so disgusted with the other color choices in the 3er lineup that I was sincerely considering forking out the extra $2k for a special order. It was either that or wait another year and hope BMW offered something other than the neutral (there goes that word, again) and uninspired colors that they seem to be parading every year.

I'm glad that I stayed the course and ultimately got Steel Gray, because in my opinion it's the flat out best color for the E46 3er!

I liked your black interior, but I felt that in a cab that just wasn't going to cut it here in Indiana during the sweltering summer months, and to me the gray interior provides absolutely no contrast to the gray exterior.

The only real choice in my opinion was the tanin, and I'm a big proponent of it now. Belated PROPS to everybody's fave GSM, Jon Shafer, because if it hadn't been for the Cic tanin pic's that he posted on his directory I would have probably settled for gray interior.

Anyway, thanks again!

I'll sincerely reflect on adding the E36 M3/4 to the family stable of cars. It's still has me drooling whenever I see one on the road!

Right now I'm torn between doing that or selling the 330Cic in 2003, and getting either a used '02 M3 or new '03 M3. I haven't driven one at all yet. I'm afraid that if I do, there'll be no turning back.

TD
12-21-2001, 01:00 PM
I totally agree that steel grey is, by far, the best color for the E46. And if I weren't so cheap, I would have loved the tannin leather. I do really like it, even on the sedan. But I just couldn't see spending the extra money when the cheap stuff works just as well (if not better). More money to spend elsewhere...

But, yeah, it's gone. And I'm very VERY happy with the E36 M3.

I would also suggest driving the E46 M3 A LOT before deciding as it has even more systems on it that separate the driver from the road than our 330s do/did. But at least the E46 M3 has a "sport" mode for the DBW throttle.

silroc
12-21-2001, 01:03 PM
your convertible is sweet - never saw one in that color-

TD
12-21-2001, 01:15 PM
Originally posted by JPinTO
TD... I was about to tell you that you should start up E36fanatics.com... But alas, someone has beat you to it!

Here you go... Enjoy with your fellow E36 brethren! :D

http://www.e36fanatics.com/

Except that that link appears to have been bought up by our hosts here to redirect you to E46Fanatics.com.

Nice try, but...

I guess you all will have to continue to hear my biased, pro-E36 rantings.

The HACK
12-21-2001, 01:33 PM
First generation: E30 M3 was a PURE racer in the purest form. It was designed to race on the tracks and it's not HAPPY unless it's on the tracks. Daily driver it is not.

Second generation: E36 M3 was a great sports car that's also a capable daily driver. Great all around car and the results on the track shows the great racing heritage.

Third generation: E46 M3 is and probably will aways be more a daily driver than a true race car like the two M3s before it. It is simply too heavy to truely be considered a great sports car. The E46 M3 CSL, on the other hand, may be the TRUEST M3 ever. Power, balance, technology all blended into one. This is the M3 that German Engineers intended M3s to be, the E30 M3 was limited by technology, the E36 M3 was limited by power, but the E46 M3 CSL is truely the pinnacle of automotive engineering.

TD
12-21-2001, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by The HACK
First generation: E30 M3 was a PURE racer in the purest form. It was designed to race on the tracks and it's not HAPPY unless it's on the tracks. Daily driver it is not.

Second generation: E36 M3 was a great sports car that's also a capable daily driver. Great all around car and the results on the track shows the great racing heritage.

Third generation: E46 M3 is and probably will aways be more a daily driver than a true race car like the two M3s before it. It is simply too heavy to truely be considered a great sports car. The E46 M3 CSL, on the other hand, may be the TRUEST M3 ever. Power, balance, technology all blended into one. This is the M3 that German Engineers intended M3s to be, the E30 M3 was limited by technology, the E36 M3 was limited by power, but the E46 M3 CSL is truely the pinnacle of automotive engineering.

So what's you're actually saying is that, of the M3s that have will/will be sold in the US (and that can be afforded by mortal humans), the E36 M3 is the best.

I can live with that assessment. ;)

silroc
12-21-2001, 01:40 PM
It's been documented in countelss articles, test drives, and TV shows, that the e46 M3 is a more worthy successor to the e30 than the e36 M3..

In fact the e36 M3 (us version) has been shredded as a major let down to the M line so many times, I have lost count.


So I think your 3 series heirarchy should put the e46 M3 up one notch, and drop the e36 M3 down one -

While still leaving the e30 M3 at the top

:)

to look like -
e30 best pure racer ever
e46 best all around ever
e36 not bad

JD
12-21-2001, 01:44 PM
I was one of the aforementioned e46 325i to e36 M3/4 converts and I can tell you it was the best decision I have ever made. I have only had the car 3 days, and its not registered in VA yet (so I have been driving slowly) but it is an AWESOME car. No comparison...e36 M3/4 hands down!!!
:D

ALEX325i
12-21-2001, 01:47 PM
The car feels completely different from our 325/330's... Like you're planning on doing, I kept my 325i (same color combo - SG/TR, actually my second SG/TR 3er );) and everytime I jump in the M3 I feel like it's a totally different car. It's hard to believe that it's based on the 330Ci. It drives totally different from any other 3er I've owned (4 so far).

IMO, the E46 M3 is the best M3 ever made and honestly, I don't think it takes lots of driving to fall in love with it forever. I bought mine without even driving it (my dealer was not allowing anybody to test drive available M3's). It sure has several defense mechanisms, but they can all be turned off, and I bet you'll keep them on most of the time, because after all, they're designed to keep you out of trouble... Trust me, 300HP+ cars can get you in trouble easily (I've had 2 C5 'Vettes previously)... ;)

Anyway, drive both and see what's best for you. Maybe you'll find the E36 M3 good enough, allowing you to save some $$$ (always a good idea) ;)

Happy Holidays! :D

TD
12-21-2001, 01:52 PM
Alex-

I certainly do not want to get myself in the middle of an E36 M3 vs E46 M3 fight since I have not had an opportunity to drive the E46 M3 myself yet (although I'm always happy to contrast the E36 M3 awith non-M E46s).

But I was wondering if you had seen THIS review-> http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/25/automobiles/25NEIL.html

ALEX325i
12-21-2001, 02:13 PM
Hey TD,

Yeah, I read that article when it got posted on .ORG some time ago (if that's the one you're referring to), but to me, that's just a bunch of BS... I welcome technology/defense mechanisms in cars. Not that I need them all the time, but they may save my life when some inexperienced driver gets behind the wheel of a brand new Porsche Turbo and feels like "driving hard"... ;) (granted, there's a stripped out version that costs 70K more and screams: "Look man, I'm not your mom, you're own your own here..." :D )

Anyway, I certainly do not wanna start an E36 M3 x E46 M3 battle either, but just felt like voicing my opinion... Besides, regardless of what NY Times says, I drove a friend's 95 M3 (S2000 replacement - he hated it) three weeks ago when I went to NY, and although there's no question in mind it's a superb car, I don't think it's better/feels better than an E46 M3...

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!:D

PS: Thanks for bringing this board to out attention. I love the software/format.

Mr Paddle.Shift
12-21-2001, 02:22 PM
Only I have the courage to trade in for this.:(
No use lamenting...I admit being the coward one.

Alpina B3 3.0, 260bhp.
<img src="http://people.we.mediaone.net/vpwseah/P1010038.JPG">



Originally posted by TDM3
Amen to EVERYTHING you said. But you must have missed all of my posts on this subject.

I am one of a handful of guys who got rid of E46s to pick up E36 M3s (4 of the 5 guys I can name picked up M3/4s - myself included - the other (JST) got a convertible). 2 gave up 330s, 2 gave up 325s and 1 gave up a 323. All of the scorned cars had 5-spds and the sport package.

I had a 2001 330i and was one of the loudest voices screaming about the steering early on. I took a bath on it trading it for a '98 M3/4. But the E46 just had no soul. I tried modding a soul into it with UUC sways, M3 steering wheel, UUC shift knob... Feel mods not strictly cosmetic mods. Didn't work. Each mod improved that aspect specifically but the WHOLE of the car just was not right. It was not what it should have been.

So I bit the bullet. And, in hindsight, it was the best decision I ever made. I flat-out LOVE my car.

Here's a link to the pic page I made up of my E46 that I never took down- www.geocities.com/ctd_1/BMW/ And you can see the M3 in my sig.

JST
12-21-2001, 06:50 PM
The E36 M3 has been "shredded?" By whom? Certainly no one who has ever really driven one.

I'll give you that there has been a lot of ink spilled lamenting the unavailability of the 321 hp Euro engine in the states. Many people are not satisfied unless they are driving the absolute, no question best thing available, and they view anything less than the best with derision. Hell, look at all the people who complained about the 10 hp difference in ratings between the US and Euro E46 M3.

Having never had the opportunity to sample the 321 hp flavor, I am in a position to evaluate the 240 hp version on its own merits. My analysis is not colored by the fact that another, similar car with more hp exists someplace else. I'm only looking at the US car, as it sits.

Frankly, the US E36 M3 is still today, 3 years after going out of production and 7 years after its introduction, one of the best cars available *for any price.* While its horsepower rating is being eclipsed by any number of more plebian cars, it still provides performance in the upper tier of cars on the road. The US engine has torque all over the place, and is a true joy to experience. Truth be told, in my daily driving, I rarely have a chance to use all 240 of my cars horses. Another 70 or 80 would, frankly, be hardly noticed. All of this is coupled, even in the convertible, with true four passenger seating capacity. Simply incredible.

The E46 M3 is an astonishing step forward, and I take nothing away from it. Equipped similarly to the US E36 M3, it's also 10K more expensive, available in more limited quanitities, and not avaiable at all in a 4 door version. Deride the US E36 all you want, but in my view BMW traded something American drivers generally won't miss in order to provide an unbelievable car at a much more affordable price.

Works for me. Those who don't think the US E36 doesn't deserve to wear the "M" badge haven't spent enough time with one.

susan28
10-15-2010, 11:58 AM
i got my 98 5-speed M3 sedan a few years back, trading up from a '90 325i 5-speed sedan which was my first BMW; oh can i relate to the tear-shedding! it was *agonising* and i thought about keeping it but really couldn't justify two same-purposed cars. i ultimately consoled myself by imagining her in the hands of someone who was stoked to be able to afford a cherry 325i, even more stoked to find a 5-speed sedan and would cherish her as i did.

but though Betsy wasn't an M and Marjolein is, there's definitely something to be said for the e30 body with its effortless flickability and 360-degree visibility. i still don't drive the M3 as well around town, though there's no comparison in terms of high-speed handling.

additionally, i *always* wind out the first couple gears getting up to speed because it just doesn't seem awake without the VANOS fully activated, and i always find myself screaming, "My Kingdom for another 100hp!", and when i saw an e46 convertible for sale once i was tempted.

BUT there's also some personal philosophy involved here, in that i've rigid ideas about what constitutes a "true" Sports Sedan and that's that it's first and foremost a Sedan, to wit:

if one cannot afford one's fave (really) high-buck exotic screamer as a second car and must get one's kicks from one's daily driver, just embrace one's predicament and go for a sleeper: a gorcery-getter / touring rig that outperforms its purpose without forgetting it, including using it as mundane transpo sometimes where 4 doors come in handy. then occasionally drop the clutch on some kid in one of those hopped-up Civics and make 'em smile that grandma just blew their doors off :)

the other side of that same coin, of course, is that one should try to streamline one's daily driver as much as possible (ie: a coupe) without losing minimum functionality (back seats), and were i still in college i'd probably have that tude and be looking at e46's. and it's all further complicated by the fact that even the e36 M3 of 1998 (my year) blew away ALL comers in a Road and Track cost-no-object slalom test that year!

but to me the quintessential M is a Sedan by definition, and comparing the sheer rightness and balance of both weight and purpose of my ride to that convertible e46, no way i could trade in my gorgeous 4-door, 5-speed, black-on-black sleeper for it.

but oh... My Kingdom for Another Hundred Horses.. and yeah, already have the cat-back and CAI, got another 11hp at the rear wheel from them but starting to agree with the forced-induction crowd on this car though that's never been my preference anywhere but at the strip and that's not what this car's about. last time i had a blower i had a Mopar turning it.. big diff..

C-Bear
10-15-2010, 07:21 PM
Epic thread resurrection.

susan28
10-16-2010, 09:25 AM
LOL!! Sowwy..

Musta read "2001" as "2010", hehe.. really must look into that Lasik oneday soon :/

(still, hope anyone on the fence enjoyed.. was just browsing for some mods and noticed this thread about a familiar dilemma seeking opinions, yes?)