A friendly reminder: cars are meant to be driven

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the BMW M3 project car
Jun 12, 2023 | $2000 Challenge, BMW, BMW M3, M3, Hagerty, E46 M3, E46, Cars & Caffeine, BMW E46 M3

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Has our M3 been sitting too much lately? Well, you could say that.

Since purchasing our 2004 BMW M3 in the fall of 2016, we have put a little more than 4000 miles on it–not a typo–and that includes driving it back to our Florida base from the seller’s house in Tennessee with a stop at BimmerWorld in Alton, Virginia.

Why has it sat so much? Our M3 is too nice to put on track, while we have been autocrossing the Garage Rescue Miata. Then add in our work-from-home situation.

Oh, and the rod bearings had us scared as we didn’t have any history on them. Were they about to give way, taking the engine with it?

[BMW rod bearings: What is the real story here?]

Now that the rod bearings have been replaced, we really have no excuse for letting the M3 sit.

We have heard the same from several friends in the industry as well: We really should be driving this one more. Don’t be so concerned with the number on the odometer.

So we recently drove it to our $2000 Challenge, two hours each way and, sadly, possibly our longest trip with the car since retrieving it.

[BMW-powered Miata boosts its way into $2000 Challenge glory]

How was the drive through the middle of the state of Florida? Glorious.

The E46 M3 delivers the perfect touring car experience. It’s comfortable. It’s quick. It makes cool noises. You can rev it.

It’s also a bit of a throwback, analog machine. No screens. No complex center stack. No voice controls. It starts with an actual key.

We had the car on display at the weekend’s Hagerty Cars and Caffeine and fielded a steady stream of questions.

Yes, it’s the car from the videos and web updates.”

Yep, it’s largely original.”

Yes, those are 17-inch Apex wheels.”

The following weekend, we went to Henry’s Depot in Sanford, Florida, for a morning get-together hosted by Orlando Cars and Coffee.

On a rather comfortable Sunday morning we shoved off for the 45-minute drive–mostly highway save for the last bit that follows Lake Monroe.

And, again, the drive reminded us why we fell in love with the E46-chassis M3 at that first hello, back during the initial press launch some 20 years ago.

It’s the right size, doesn’t make many demands upon the driver and has a subtle look that those in the know, know.

OEM+ is what those at the show called it. It doesn’t look modified but, if you get close to it, see how it’s the M3 that maybe BMW should have made: a little lower, a little more attitude.

Before each show, we ran the car through our one-hour quick detail–or at least a version of it: quick detailer for the paint, vinyl treatment for the black stuff and an under-hood wipe-down. Watch this video for the specifics.

One recent change, though: Since our seats are close to 20 years old–where does the time go?–and are showing some cracking, we started treating them with Lithium’s Leather Love. More on that soon.

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Comments
surfshibby07
surfshibby07 HalfDork
6/12/23 1:02 p.m.

Not a huge BMW fan, but that car is absolutely stunning. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/12/23 1:11 p.m.
surfshibby07 said:

Not a huge BMW fan, but that car is absolutely stunning. 

Thanks. OEM+ for the win, right?

If you scroll through the photos, you’ll find one little thing that changed between the $2000 Challenge the cars and coffee. 

I need to do a full photo shoot on it, too. I was thinking tonight, but someone made a huge mess in my office. Lemme see how the day goes. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
6/12/23 2:12 p.m.

Not project car related, but I often found myself offering to drive my Honda instead of my wife's car simply because–since my car is older and has more miles–I felt that we needed to "preserve" the lower mileage of my wife's car.

Thankfully, my wife offered a similar point: It's a car, it's meant to be driven.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
6/12/23 2:22 p.m.

Poor Rio hasn't been started since we got home from One Lap. Being broken, needing an oil change and the wife putting the brakes on me driving anything with more than two pedals for a while she may sit a bit longer.

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/12/23 2:28 p.m.

I bought my current e46 M3 around the same time, I put 80k miles on it since! surprise

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/12/23 3:31 p.m.
Slippery said:

I bought my current e46 M3 around the same time, I put 80k miles on it since! surprise

Nice. And pictures? 

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/12/23 4:03 p.m.

In reply to David S. Wallens :

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/12/23 4:19 p.m.

In reply to Slippery :

Nice. 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/12/23 4:37 p.m.

10K miles on mine since I bought it 5 years ago.  Those miles were essentially all on track though, and I've changed the rod bearings twice in that time. :)

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/12/23 5:14 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:
surfshibby07 said:

Not a huge BMW fan, but that car is absolutely stunning. 

Thanks. OEM+ for the win, right?

If you scroll through the photos, you’ll find one little thing that changed between the $2000 Challenge the cars and coffee. 

I need to do a full photo shoot on it, too. I was thinking tonight, but someone made a huge mess in my office. Lemme see how the day goes. 

Editorial Director, Grassroots Motorsports & Classic Motorsports

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