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E36 M3 (1992-1999) {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999


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Old Tue, Sep-13-2011, 08:11:33 PM   #1
thedude113
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Default E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

I just sold my 914-6 race car and want to replace it with a daily driver, occasional track day car. With a need for a back seat to occasionally drive my 3 year old around, the M3 seems like a good fit. I have been reading every post I can about the E36 and E46 M3's to get an idea about which would work better for my situation. I have driven a few of both cars and I have talked with a friend of mine who owns Racewerks in Va Beach. I still cannot make a clear decision, so I am asking for help.

I have a budget of 10-30K. At the lower end, the car could become a track car down the road. At the upper end, it will probably stay a street car and I will get another car to race in 3 years. My daily commute is pretty short and I anticipate about 2-4 track weekends a year, driving to the track.

Here are the things I am weighing:

E36: Positives: lighter, easier on brakes and tires, crisp handling (I am looking at a car with TCK SA coilovers and some other stuff), cheaper parts, inherently more reliable than E46 once the cooling system is addressed, turns into a great track car. Negative: getting old (if I keep the car for 4-5 years, a '95 will be a 20 year old car), styling in my opinion not as good as E46.

E46: Pos: wife will like driving it more when we swap cars, more refined inside, better looking (again, in my opinion), more power. Neg: subframe issue (most sellers had no idea what I was talking about and did not get it inspected), VANOS issues (again clueless owners had know idea these were issues), expensive exclusively M3 parts, more disconnected feeling from steering, can feel the extra weight, will go through brakes, rotors and tires much quicker, no place for spare tire so harder to fit 4 track tires inside the car plus gear.

I realize people are more likely to post complaining about problems than to tell everyone that they are problem free, so you get a pessimistic outlook reading all the gripes online. My friend at Racewerks recommends for a DD sometimes track go with the E46, but for a pure race car go with the E36. He does not think the VANOS and subframe are much of an issue, but I read a lot about them on forums!

What do you guys think?


James
1985 911
1973 914-6 race car- Gone
1996 GTI VR6 race car- Gone
2001 330ci- Gone
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Old Tue, Sep-13-2011, 08:23:11 PM   #2
Roland H
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

The E46 has two advantages over the E36: Looks, and S54. You can always put the S54 in the E36 and still be at less total cost than an E46 M3, so the E46 M3 really only has looks going for it.

The E36 wins in all of the other departments, especially if you get a sedan. They are cheaper to buy, maintain, track, insure, mod, etc. They are noticeably lighter, more fun to drive, and parts from non-m E36 cars transfer easily such as fenders, glass, etc. The E36 is also proven to last well past 200k miles, not many E46s have reached that point yet...
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Old Tue, Sep-13-2011, 09:34:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

All I can say is that my e36 has lots of annoying glitches, but i was consistently faster than two separate e46's at Shenandoah last weekend, in my first day at that track and with this car.

One was on R-Compound tires, while I'm on stock wheels and street tires, with the suspension sitting up high. The stock brakes and Hawk DTC-60 pads stop this car amazingly well

I'd save the money and stick with a e36 M3 if you can overcome the aging design.

That said, there was a stockish 328i sedan that spanked me at every session.
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Old Tue, Sep-13-2011, 09:59:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

Sounds like you've done plenty of research into each respective model, which is more than most who post these threads.

I'd expect most in this section will tell you to go with the e36 as it's what we've chosen. The opposite will likely hold true for the e46 section.

Looking at it in pure financial terms, neither car is a good investment. Both have their share of issues whether it's cooling systems, Vanos issues, oil pump nuts etc. There's no free lunch either way you swing it.

I'd spend some more time in each car, and go for whichever you end up enjoying the most. You won't mind spending money on the inevitable maintenance if you love driving the car.

Or; buy the one your wife hates the most. That way you never have to worry about her driving it. Ask me how I know...
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Old Wed, Sep-14-2011, 12:25:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

I have owned both, so when I say the E36 is a better car overall it is from my own personal experience. Roland is dead on about the looks, as the E46 M3 is one of the best looking cars BMW has ever made IMHO. But beyond that there is little to really make it worth the extra coin it costs just to get in the door. The engine is awesome, but with the added weight and far less nimble suspension it does not do as well as the E36 in pure stock form. I autoX my E36 M3 coupe and currently it has a bone stock suspension, and a tired one at that, and yet it still could out handle my E46 M3. Not to say you could not make an E46 handle as good as an E36, but by simply doing the same mod/improvement to the stock E36 it would once again surpass the E46.

Personally it was an easy decision to make. Good luck with whatever direction you go!
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Old Wed, Sep-14-2011, 12:26:09 AM   #6
thedude113
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

Those are all good points, guys, especially WRT the wife! Thanks for the input. Ideally it would be nice to have the E46 daily driver and the E36 race car, though that is not possible...yet.
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Old Wed, Sep-14-2011, 01:23:35 AM   #7
Bimmerman325i
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

I DD and track my 95 M3, and love the thing. I'm going to be swapping an S54 in as soon as grad school ends.

For a pure DD.....I could go with either a FI E36 or bone stock E46. Probably will, actually.
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Old Wed, Sep-14-2011, 01:41:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

e46 m3 is my least favourite m3 of all the generations

with the supercharger in my m3, i feel like i have best of both worlds

and yes, i both dd and track my car as well
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Old Wed, Sep-14-2011, 02:15:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days?

original 914-6? any pictures? (just curious)

I vote E36 based on your description. Leaving you extra funds for minor track mods you might want to make and its easier on the wallet. Then after time you can make that a fulltime weekend/track car and then buy an E46 M3 for cheaper because they will have dropped further in price E36 is unique too IMO... E46 M3s in the DC area are like a Toyota Camry - in my work parking garage there are easily 10+ E46 M3 in there on a given day. A clean well taken care of E36 M3 is not seen as often.

GL
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Old Wed, Sep-14-2011, 04:06:16 AM   #10
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Default

I've had both an E46 M3 and now and E36 M3. I prefer the E36 but I don't DD it and I have a van for the kids. The E46 was a DD when I had it and since it has the latch system getting car seats in/out was much easier. I had no issues fitting two car seats in the E46, but not sure I could do that with the E36 as easily.
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Discussing E36 or E46 M3 DD/occasional track days? in the E36 M3 (1992-1999) Forum - {Euro - S50 B32 321hp @ 7400 rpm} {U.S. - S52 B32 240 hp @ 6000 rpm}
Total Produced: 71,212 - Years Produced: 1992 to 1999 at BMW M3 Forum.com (E30 M3 | E36 M3 | E46 M3 | E92 M3 | F80/X)