2004 BMW E46 M3 CoupeView vehicle description
For those of us that grew up at the tail-end of the 90’s, when we think of the BMW M3, we almost certainly think of the E46.
Given that it was initially launched in 1997 (or 2000 for the M3 as seen here) it is incredible how little the M3 has aged compared to other cars of the era, with the sleek lines still looking modern to this day - arguably far more so than other high-performance cars of the era such as the 996-era 911 or the various AMGs of the 90’s / early noughties.
Powered by the revered 3.2-litre, inline-six S54 M-tuned engine, the M3 was known not only for its impressive performance, but also its iconic sound thanks to the six individual throttle bodies and VANOS system, with the S54 really coming alive around 3,500rpm and singing all the way to the redline.
Along with its performance, the E46 M3 was also practical. It can comfortably seat four occupants (with room for an unlucky, or very tiny, fifth) carry an impressive amount of luggage in the sizeable boot, and still return decent MPGs on long motorway runs.
All in all, the E46 M3 really is a true ‘all round’ performance car, and one that you should definitely experience at some point during your lifetime, which is where this example comes in.
This particular M3 is one of the later cars, being first registered in 2004. Finished in the rare - but lovely - shade of Mystic Blue Metallic, right-hand-drive with a six-speed manual transmission, it would appear that this is one of only 246 cars produced to this specification worldwide.
Having been imported from Guernsey just over a year ago and first registered for use on UK roads in May 2020, this M3 is largely original throughout, benefitting only from a set of H&R lowering springs to adjust the altitude of the vehicle and help lower the centre of gravity.
The vendor purchased the vehicle as an investment, however their personal circumstances have since changed, forcing the sale of the vehicle.
Prior to coming to our Abingdon HQ, this E46 has benefitted from a full major service including new spark plugs, along with the fitment of a set of matching Continental tyres on the front wheels.
One thing to note is that there is currently a warning light on the dashboard (comprised of an orange parking brake warning light, along with the TC being disengaged) which is due to a sensor failing. This part is included with the sale of the vehicle, and according to the vendor shouldn’t take more than an hour or so to swap out with the failed unit currently fitted to the vehicle.
On the Outside
The Mystic Blue Metallic paintwork on this example looks simply stunning - especially when the sunlight hits it - and suits the flowing lines of the E46 very well indeed.
For it’s age, the car presents in very good condition, with the wheels being especially notable for their lack of kerbing or noticeable damage, being in nearly pristine condition as far as we could see.
The paintwork itself is in generally good condition, though there are a few marks dotted around, such as on the lower side skirts, bumper corners, mirror caps and lower bumper splitters. All of these marks are commensurate with the age of the vehicle, however, and are detailed in the gallery below. It is worth noting that the right side of the bonnet does show some swirl marks, and the paintwork in general would benefit from a machine polish.
Elsewhere, the light lenses are all free from damage or cracking, though the headlights would benefit from a refurbishment which is common on vehicles of this age. From what we could see, there was no notable sign of any bubbling or corrosion around the arches, with the only patch that we could see being on the nearside mirror mounting point - good news for any aspiring E46 owner!
On the Inside
Inside, the cabin does very well to ‘shrug off’ its age and mileage, presenting in great condition throughout.
The seats, dashboard, carpets and door cards are all in very good condition, with only very light patina from regular use being visible on areas such as the seat bolsters and bases, along with minor wear to high-traffic areas such as the steering wheel and centre console.
From what we could see, everything in here works as it should, with the electric pop-out windows working perfectly, the lights for the engine’s redline adjusting as they should as the car comes up to temperature, and all other systems working well, though we did note that the driver’s window was much slower to go up/down than the passenger side.
The headliner is in great shape and shows no sign of sagging, while the boot was also impressively clean and tidy with only some marks to the rear plastic on the ‘lip’ which is hidden when the boot is closed.
Underneath, as far as we can see everything looks pretty good and ship-shape.
There is, of course, some minor surface corrosion on various fixtures and nuts around the car, while the exhaust tips have seen better days, but on the whole the underside of this M3 is mightily impressive. This is also backed up by a recent clean MOT pass dated 18 May 2021, which should put any potential bidders’ minds at rest.
The engine bay, too, is in great shape with no signs of any leaks or issues that we could see - not that we could see much, on account of the numerous black trim pieces to cover up the block and ancillaries of the engine.
During our test drive, the car came up to temperature as it should and drove fantastically. If you’re yet to experience the S54 engine and it’s addictive characteristics, we highly recommend doing so.
On this example, the mechanicals seemed excellent. There was no hesitation or stuttering, while the gearbox and clutch were lovely and direct in their nature.
In fact, the only thing we did pick up was that a minor alignment may be needed to just reach that extra 5% of perfection. Otherwise, there were no issues at all that we noted, along with no creaks, bangs, rattles or other untoward noises.
Excellent news all round then.
Clearly, this M3 has been well cosseted throughout its lifetime, judging by the comprehensive service history included in the OE service handbook.
As previously mentioned, the vehicle underwent a full major service prior to its journey to our Abingdon HQ, but for those that like to dig in to a vehicles history, the full service record is as follows:
17.06.04: Running in check. 1,237 miles
01.03.06: Minor service. 1,457 miles
20.05.08: Major service. 23,190 miles
19.10.09: Minor service. 30,648 miles
28.01.11: Minor service. 35,549 miles
13.09.12: Major service. 40,458 miles
14.05.14: Minor service. 45,108 miles
09.07.15: Major service. 48,347 miles
25.09.18: Minor service. 57,398 miles
- Vehicle imported to UK -
18.05.21: Major service. 60,989 miles
In addition to the service history, the vehicle is also supplied with two clean MOT certificates, a number of invoices for work carried out - including the aforementioned lowering springs being fitted - and numerous OEM BMW handbooks and manuals.
What We Think
Having barely aged a day since the design was first unveiled 21 years ago, the E46 M3 is a true icon of performance cars.
This particular 2004-registered example is in outstanding mechanical health and drives in such a manner it’s hard to believe its age and mileage, such is the feeling of the car being ‘tight’ and correct mechanically.
There are a few bodywork areas to address, but the bones of the vehicle and the interior are excellent, meaning this is the M3 to buy. We estimate £14,000 - £20,000.
Go on, treat yourself. Experience that sonorous S54 engine and manual transmission before we’re all driving around in oversized battery-powered boxes!
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.
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