A pure driving machine. I’ve always wanted one of these and found a bare bones no option 2003 model with only 85,000 miles on the clock. One requirement though, it had to be a stick shift. This thing costs 1/8 the price of a brand new Honda Civic so it fits the bill for a struggling photographer that also needs a safe and reliable ride.
The E46 chassis of the 3-series is by far and will always be my favorite iteration of the famed sports sedan. One doesn’t need a ton of power to how fun in a 3er. The engine, despite only being a 2.5 liter putting out 185 horsepower and 176 lb ft of torque, sings as it screams towards red line in each gear. Making trips to the gas station more frequent unfortunately.
Compared to the 4 cylinder turbocharged models of today, which sounds like listening to Taylor Swift on a pair of shitty Jawbone bluetooth speakers, the snarl of the M54 inline 6 sounds like a tube amp producing the warm, thick but raucous guitar notes of a Rolling Stones anthem. Sure the 4 cylinders produce power, but it’s not all about power. Sure you might get to the next stop light or on ramp 1 second faster than me, but it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.
It’s 1am in the morning as I write this, but I think I’ll go take it for a spin one more time before having to think about all the preventative maintenance I’ll have to do on it to keep in tip top shape.