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Thread: E36 v E46

                  
   
  1. #1
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    E36 v E46

    Fairly new to the BMW world. Having been tracking my Mini Cooper for a few years and I thinking of getting either an M3 as a dedicated track car. Have a few questions.

    1) Is it worth spending the extra money on the newer e46?
    2) How many miles are the motor is to much? I know I would be spending money on suspension and brakes but do not want to have to replace a motor.
    3) Any year of either the E36 or E46 better or worse than another?
    4) Any major issues with either one to look at for?

    Any other advice is welcome.

  2. #2
    I would ask/research this question at M3forum.net.

    There are tons of pro-con conversations about this. It's going to come down to two things...

    How fast do you want to go and how big is your wallet?
    Car54 ...well, now Car52

    Craig Brickner

  3. #3
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    1. This question is really subjective to the person. I might say, go for the e36, great bang for your buck as a track car. Someone else might say go all out and get the e46. All depends who you ask. Me personally, having owned an e36 M3 would say get the e36. You can feel the road better than in an e46.

    2. Depends on how well the previous owner took care of it. You can get an e36 with over 200k miles on the motor owned by an enthusiast who zealously maintained their car and it be in better shape than an e36 with 70k miles. Same with the e46. Like buying any used car get a PPI by a trusted indy shop or dealer.

    3. As far as the e36 I would stay with the 96-99 range. They are all very similar. The 95 is OBD I and the rest are OBD II. That being said, some people like the OBD I. Also, on the 95s BMW did not completely weld certain points on the suspension. So you can get wear if you track your 95 e36 m3. E46s seem similar the whole way through that range of M3. The biggest issue is the subframe, and just have to make sure they complied with the SMG(if you get that over a manual) and past recalls. One more thing, you may want to consider a 4 door e36 M3 if you go the e36 route. They are basically the exact same dimensions as the coupe, but they are more rigid because they have a real b-pillar.

    4. See 3.

    Lastly, you also need to ask yourself if your going to stay NA or go FI. I have also heard people prefer the SMG in the E46 on the track over a 6-speed. But that argument is like the chicken or egg come first argument haha.

    Like Car54 said, research on m3forum.net, e46fanatics.com, and bimmerforums.com. The two camps (e36 M3/e46 M3) will argue their side is better. You just need to choose. You could also look at the e30 M3, that would be a fun ride on the track

    Here is an example of the weld failure I mentioned in item 3 on my buddy's 95 e36 M3:
    http://www.m3forum.net/m3forum/showthread.php?t=266861
    Last edited by Griffon252; 10-25-2009 at 01:05 PM.

  4. #4
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    As an E46 M3 owner, I'd say get an E36 M3 for the track. (Disclaimer: I am not a real big track rat, just an occasional amateur). This car is awesome on the street but I don't see it having tremendous long term potential as a track car. Too big / heavy. Similar power to weight can be accomplished with older lighter cheaper cars once they are modded. Not to mention the added expenses of the newer gen.
    Mike R.
    2002 M3 - ultimate driving excuse
    formerly: 2005 Z4 3.0i

  5. #5
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    It sounds like you're considering an M3 in either generation? Generally speaking with BMW, the later years of a body style are better... more of the bugs worked out.
    Both the E46 and E36 use many plastic cooling sytem parts. Best to do a "cooling system update" at 60,000 mile intervals replacing all that stuff.
    E46 M3 engines solved bearing problems from 04 model year on. Earlier ones should have had a bearing service campaign. E46 engines are more sophisticated - i.e. expensive to work on. The E36 M3 engine is nice and torquey and basically just a bored, stroked and tweaked variation of other E36s - cheaper to fix.
    In general, with a used car, go with the one that's been best maintained, best service history -- and get it inspected by an expert.

  6. #6
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    The E46 M3 is very expensive to track. With the extra weight and extra power, you burn through tires fast. Engine components are now about as reliable as they were in the S50/S52, but they cost a LOT more to replace and the engine is not nearly as DIY friendly.

    It's also very hard to learn to be fast when you're driving it - a good E46 M3 driver will generally be one of the fastest cars on track at a DE, which means that you'll have no one goading you to push yourself.

    Personally, I would suggest not getting an M car at all. Build an E30 325i to whatever level of SpecE30 compliant prep that you want, or an E36 325i to NASA Spec3. This means that if you get bitten by the racing bug you have a place to go, and it also means that you'll be able to get rid of the car in the future if you get sick of it. ...and as someone who went from an E46 M3 on track to an E46 323, I can tell you that you learn a lot more driving the slower car than you do the fast one.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  7. #7
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    slightly off topic, but Nick325xiT 5spd if you don't mind me asking, is that your 323 in your sig? What happened? Saw that happen to a chick next to me on a highway a long time ago, scared the crap outta me and im sure she got the poop scared outta her too haha.

  8. #8
    I should also add that I used to have an E46 M3 and tracked it a few times. I felt like to go fast I would be risking the car (a nice one) so I down-graded to the Mcoupe, which is really a hybrid e36/e30 M3. I was concerned about being bummed with the power output but psyched about a less sophisticated chassis. After my first track session in the Mcoupe, I never looked back. If I had uber money...and could risk loosing a 30k car, then I'd be all over an E46 M3. Look at Bob Kelley and his M3, for those that know him, that could never be me.

    Good luck in your quest.
    Car54 ...well, now Car52

    Craig Brickner

  9. #9
    Senior Member 1996 328ti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griffon252 View Post
    slightly off topic, but Nick325xiT 5spd if you don't mind me asking, is that your 323 in your sig? What happened? Saw that happen to a chick next to me on a highway a long time ago, scared the crap outta me and im sure she got the poop scared outta her too haha.
    She forgot her hood pins too?
    ...steven
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    318ti.org | bmwcca.org/forum

  10. #10
    Senior Member agreatham's Avatar
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    How about moving back one generation further? I'm contemplating selling my E46 M3 and getting an E30 M3. I think I'll be able to learn more by driving an older car. Plus it'll be cheaper to track.
    Mike, 2005 E46 M3 ZCP SMG, 2005 E46 325xiT

  11. #11
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    Only if you don't mind rebuilding the engine regularly. S14s are not cheaper to track, and a nice E30 M3 is damned expensive. On the other hand, the E36 M3's engine is almost disposable. That's a big asset in a track car.

    Seriously, if you want an E30 track car, go with a 325i/325is. In SpecE30 trim, they are in the upper 20s at Summit. Best of all, if you kill the engine, you can pick up another for a few hundred bucks.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick325xiT 5spd View Post
    Only if you don't mind rebuilding the engine regularly. S14s are not cheaper to track,
    I was talking to other ex-E30 M3 owners about this at Lightning today. It seems the original engine in mostly stock trim (an oil pan baffle is a necessity) is bulletproof. Once rebuilt or modified, you're lucky if they last a season. When I sold my unmodified M3 (other than a chip) it had 160,000 miles and over 20,000 of that was on the track. I had the rod bearings replaced at 150,000 miles as a preventative messure the the shop said the original ones looked good as new.

    Sorry about continuing to carry this thread so far off topic.
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griffon252 View Post
    slightly off topic, but Nick325xiT 5spd if you don't mind me asking, is that your 323 in your sig? What happened? Saw that happen to a chick next to me on a highway a long time ago, scared the crap outta me and im sure she got the poop scared outta her too haha.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNYFTkqgfRQ

    I think the title is self explanatory....

    Edit: And yeah, that's mine.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodym3 View Post
    I was talking to other ex-E30 M3 owners about this at Lightning today. It seems the original engine in mostly stock trim (an oil pan baffle is a necessity) is bulletproof. Once rebuilt or modified, you're lucky if they last a season. When I sold my unmodified M3 (other than a chip) it had 160,000 miles and over 20,000 of that was on the track. I had the rod bearings replaced at 150,000 miles as a preventative messure the the shop said the original ones looked good as new.

    Sorry about continuing to carry this thread so far off topic.
    I guess I'm kind of gun shy about the S14 after Blair Lee's (rod bearing at ~88k all of 150 miles after he bought it). Really, though, I tend to think that track cars should have disposable engines, and the S14 is not. M20, M50/52, S50/52 motors are all pretty much disposable - they are both cheap AND readily available. The M/S5x engines are also very easily interchangeable which is an added bonus.
    2006 GMC Sierra 2500HD 4WD Duramax LBZ/Allison 6-speed
    2002 BMW M3 - Alpinweiss III/Black
    1999 323i KP/GTS2 - Alpinweiss III (Black Hood, other stuff)
    1990 325is - Brilliantrot/Tan
    1989 325is - Alpinweiss II/Black (S50B32)
    1989 M3 - Alpinweiss II/Black (S62B50 in progress)



  15. #15
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    I felt bad about Blair too. I drove him out past Centreville to pick up that car.
    Woody
    96 328is, 99 M Coupe, 04 330Ci

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