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e46 M3 - thoughts?

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by micbain, May 27, 2008.

  1. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't claim that either, and handling like a Ferrari isn't necessarily a good thing. I would get an NSX because it's a relatively practical mid-engined, rear-wheel drive car, and all that implies. Its suspension design and tuning is also pretty singular. I'm not sure straightline drag racing is a fair assessment of its unique capabilities.

    Your opinion is balanced and I do not disagree with it. For me, an NSX's merits just does not make up for the lack of umph. It is a wonderful car, nonetheless.


    That's a bit harsh, and I'm not sure anyone would make that kind of comparison.

    I indulge in owner's love/hate hyperbole.

    The tuning of the E46 M3 suspension does tend to the harsh side, but the E46 M3's capabilities in stock form is a big improvement over the E36 M3's, stock suspension or otherwise. The speeds you can carry into corners in a stock E46 M3 far outstrip what the E36 could do. And the stock E36 M3 is still one of the best handling cars today.

    Dang...how can I argue with a guy who knows his shit? I agree with all that, too, and the stock comparison becomes closer if we're talking the Euro E36, but still, I don't think that the stock E46 M3's handling is as magical as the stock E36 M3, even if it can brute force an ass-kicking around a course. An E36 is kinda...NSX-like.


    As for the E46 3 series being an "economy car", I hope you were just using rhetorical hyperbole. Having worked on your car, I'm sure you've seen many things in the E46 that are not economical to implement.

    --Andre


    Hah...well, it's all relative. I meant to say that unlike an NSX or even an S2000, the E46 chassis is meant to be a basic people mover...sure, a basic BMW people mover, which is a good thing. It's not purpose-built like the two Hondas, and I think it shows most in the weight penalty.

    All in all, the car that has given me the greatest whoopee factor is the Elise, but I can't imagine living with it every day like the M3...the M3 remains a brilliant compromise at its price point.

    And I really mean it when I say you can take about $1K and improve the experience of how the E46 M3 drives considerably.

    - B
     
  2. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    6 years later, I have over 135k and have taken the thing to the track on average of about once a month, although, this past year, I haven't been able to go at all due to a temporary relocation for work.

    You really rocked that M3, dude...that's great.


    - B
     
  3. jet

    jet Well-Known Member

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    My M3 has been a huge commitment financially with lots of things going out/needing replacing as is typical with bmw motors. Do not take maintenance lightly and expect to spend a few thousand a year to maintain it.

    Nice RACs, my buddies were the ones who designed and had the wheels built.
     
  4. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    Nice RACs, my buddies were the ones who designed and had the wheels built.

    Chuck and Ralph are great guys.

    My RG-4s were the first in the country...I had them airshipped from Japan so I could get mine before Chuck got his.

    - B
     
  5. Roikins

    Roikins Well-Known Member

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    You really rocked that M3, dude...that's great.


    - B



    And using RA1s wrapped around RAC RS110s at the track too. [​IMG]
     
  6. grimslade

    grimslade Well-Known Member

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    I think that time will prove the E46 M3, as the ultimate expression of the BMW inline 6, to be a classic.


    That's a gorgeous car. [​IMG]
     
  7. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    All in all, the car that has given me the greatest whoopee factor is the Elise, but I can't imagine living with it every day like the M3...the M3 remains a brilliant compromise at its price point.

    And I really mean it when I say you can take about $1K and improve the experience of how the E46 M3 drives considerably.


    I met someone whom I previously did not believe could exist. He has an Elise with the track package (ie. shorter sidewalls, harsher dampers), and convinced his wife to take a road trip up and down the west coast from NorCal to Canada and back in the Elise. They're still happily married AFAIK.

    I believe you about improving the M3's drive, but I didn't know it could be done with $1K. I was thinking more like $1.8K.

    --Andre
     
  8. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    And using RA1s wrapped around RAC RS110s at the track too. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    OMG, that is sweet.

    That's a gorgeous car. [​IMG]

    Thank you, G.

    I met someone whom I previously did not believe could exist. He has an Elise with the track package (ie. shorter sidewalls, harsher dampers), and convinced his wife to take a road trip up and down the west coast from NorCal to Canada and back in the Elise. They're still happily married AFAIK.

    Big question: did he let her drive?

    I believe you about improving the M3's drive, but I didn't know it could be done with $1K. I was thinking more like $1.8K.

    --Andre


    Well, I'm counting a bit of DIY, like removing the CDV valve, putting in stainless lines, getting more camber up front, etc. For the $1K, I'm thinking short shifter, underdrive pulleys, and simple software, like the Shark. These won't make the car really faster, but more enjoyable for each minute of driving than what it is stock.

    But, yeah: new suspension and brakes will blow the budget skyhigh, as would making the gearing shorter. The one thing I still might do are headers.

    - B
     
  9. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    Big question: did he let her drive?

    Ha ha! Of course not, which makes it all the more miraculous.

    I think we have divergent philosophies. Having gone the short shifter route, I would not do it again. You just get used to it, and then think it's too long. It's also noisier. The CDV is a good mod, but stainless steel lines don't really do much, and you add another maintenance item as they fray over time. More camber might help, but if you just pushing the pins out and getting a tiny bit more camber, I'm not sure it's really worth the effort.

    As for power mods, it's not worth it for me to add maybe 3 percent more power at the expense of durability. If you don't know how to use 333 HP, what's the use of adding 10 more?

    Aftermarket big brake kits also aren't worth it unless you seriously know what you're doing and are willing to futz around with them for a long time. If your brakes are fading at the track, better pad material and maybe more venting is probably what you need. Club racers use stock brake hardware with appropriate pads and venting, and with R-compound tires, they use their brakes harder than any of us ever will.

    My mods would be:

    1. Driving schools. As many as you can afford. Lots of $$$, but for the $2500 cost of a big brake kit, you can go to 4 or 5 schools which give you skills you can use on any car. Car mods can't do that and are lower bang for the buck in terms of real performance imparted. The fun factor is also much higher than any car mod.

    2. Driving books. The Skip Barber book by Carlos Lopez, the Ross Bentley books, and the Carroll Smith books are all good. This is an adjunct to #1. This is super cheap compared to car mods, and once again is transferable to any car you drive.

    3. Better tires. Not necessarily R compounds, but don't cheap out on summer max performance street tires. Better tires will improve acceleration, braking, and handling. No other car mod can do as much as a set of really good tires, and they aren't that expensive compared to car mods. Figure $800 out the door for a 17-inch set, and $1100 to $1200 for 18-inch sets.

    4. After you've done 1 for a while, and you start learning the difference between your car's limitations and your limitations, you can then start to tune the car's suspension in really useful ways, and you can start playing with different brake pads.

    My $1800 budget was for a set of coilover springs and shocks to soften the ride of the M3, BTW. But $1000 works too as you can get a set of springs and regular shocks.

    --Andre
     
  10. jet

    jet Well-Known Member

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    Disagree on the header/software/intake route as peak hp means nothing since it's about the powerband and torque curve.

    Also, motons and full gc monoball suspension for crazy ass niggas running -3.5 fr/-3 rr.
     
  11. micbain

    micbain Well-Known Member

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    Seems like the M3 is fully tuned out of the box eh - not much power can be added w/out serious $$. From my reading a basic header/exhaust combo won't do squat.

    I'm still getting an earfull from my friend who drives a 2003 Mustang GT which is supercharged and dyno'd at aprox 375hp and 400 ft.lbs tq at the wheel. He thinks the M3 is weak.

    Could be worse I suppose, I could be driving a mustang. :p
     
  12. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    Ha ha! Of course not, which makes it all the more miraculous.

    Women who drive fast cars are automatically hotter, though.

    I think we have divergent philosophies.

    Maybe slightly in the sense that changing up my M was fun in and of itself. It's a YMMV kind of thing.

    My mods would be:

    1. Driving schools. As many as you can afford. Lots of $$$, but for the $2500 cost of a big brake kit, you can go to 4 or 5 schools which give you skills you can use on any car. Car mods can't do that and are lower bang for the buck in terms of real performance imparted. The fun factor is also much higher than any car mod.

    2. Driving books. The Skip Barber book by Carlos Lopez, the Ross Bentley books, and the Carroll Smith books are all good. This is an adjunct to #1. This is super cheap compared to car mods, and once again is transferable to any car you drive.


    This is absolutely true, so true that I don't think of it as M3-specific. But yes, this is #1, even if you go to club schools which will not cost you much except in wearing our your tires...which, let's face it, is going to be bucks over time.

    3. Better tires. Not necessarily R compounds, but don't cheap out on summer max performance street tires. Better tires will improve acceleration, braking, and handling. No other car mod can do as much as a set of really good tires, and they aren't that expensive compared to car mods. Figure $800 out the door for a 17-inch set, and $1100 to $1200 for 18-inch sets.

    A stock E46 has about a 50/50 chance of being shod with PS2s out the gate, but even the Contis have their good points. If we're talking street, that's still pretty good.

    4. After you've done 1 for a while, and you start learning the difference between your car's limitations and your limitations, you can then start to tune the car's suspension in really useful ways, and you can start playing with different brake pads.

    My $1800 budget was for a set of coilover springs and shocks to soften the ride of the M3, BTW. But $1000 works too as you can get a set of springs and regular shocks.

    --Andre


    That's also a good way to go. I'm not sure that I would use the adjective "soften,"..."tighter" even "harder" would be how I would set things.

    Disagree on the header/software/intake route as peak hp means nothing since it's about the powerband and torque curve.

    Also, motons and full gc monoball suspension for crazy ass niggas running -3.5 fr/-3 rr.


    I only achieve crazy wigger status since I run -3.5f/2.5r with GC coilovers.

    You know what? All this has inspired me to take a break midday today and wind it up bit out on some twisty country roads.

    - B
     
  13. micbain

    micbain Well-Known Member

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    Quick question - I've been doing some research on the M3 and came accross the beautiful sound of the CSL airbox. I was wondering if there was an alternative airbox/cold air intake which produced a similar sound? The CSL box is waaaay expensive.
     
  14. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    Quick question - I've been doing some research on the M3 and came accross the beautiful sound of the CSL airbox. I was wondering if there was an alternative airbox/cold air intake which produced a similar sound? The CSL box is waaaay expensive.

    Most CAIs' sound will head in the direction of the CSL. The CSL's intake draws from where its foglight used to be, so there will be some acoustic differences.

    --Andre
     
  15. Roikins

    Roikins Well-Known Member

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    Most CAIs' sound will head in the direction of the CSL. The CSL's intake draws from where its foglight used to be, so there will be some acoustic differences.

    --Andre


    The CSL airbox also needed the Alpha-N software. At least it did back in the day... not sure if it's changed since the last time I looked into it.
     
  16. jet

    jet Well-Known Member

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    Quick question - I've been doing some research on the M3 and came accross the beautiful sound of the CSL airbox. I was wondering if there was an alternative airbox/cold air intake which produced a similar sound? The CSL box is waaaay expensive.

    Forget you ever uttered those words, csl uses alpha n witch ditches the maf so has no means of measuring airful since it's tps based. No air box will ever sound like a csl.
     
  17. Brad

    Brad Well-Known Member

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    3. Better tires. Not necessarily R compounds, but don't cheap out on summer max performance street tires. Better tires will improve acceleration, braking, and handling. No other car mod can do as much as a set of really good tires, and they aren't that expensive compared to car mods. Figure $800 out the door for a 17-inch set, and $1100 to $1200 for 18-inch sets.


    --Andre


    Andre, I won't be spending any time at the track in my car, but I'll be able to use new tires here in about 5000 miles. Right now I've got Dunlop SP Sport 9000s on it. I was thinking of either getting another set of the same Dunlops or an offering from Yokohama. Any other suggestions?
     
  18. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    Andre, I won't be spending any time at the track in my car, but I'll be able to use new tires here in about 5000 miles. Right now I've got Dunlop SP Sport 9000s on it. I was thinking of either getting another set of the same Dunlops or an offering from Yokohama. Any other suggestions?

    Both are fine. I was thinking of the cheap no-name tires people try to find when they see their OEM tire replacement bill. Bridgestone, Michelin, Pirelli, and Goodyear are also fine choices. On the street, the differences between max performance summer tires is pretty minimal.

    --Andre
     
  19. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Well-Known Member

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    Both are fine. I was thinking of the cheap no-name tires people try to find when they see their OEM tire replacement bill. Bridgestone, Michelin, Pirelli, and Goodyear are also fine choices. On the street, the differences between max performance summer tires is pretty minimal.

    --Andre


    I agree...performance differences aren't substantial in the real world.

    For the street, among max performance tires, I think the three most important things are, in descending order:

    1. Change in performance as the tire wears.

    2. Noise transmission into the cabin.

    3. Tendency to tramline.

    This is why I use, and recommend, Michelin PS2s so highly. I'm on my third set, and the first two aged gracefully and gave up little in performance until I approached the wear bars. Once you get past beyond dry and wet grip, I do think the various models differ more on the three attributes above.

    - B
     
  20. jet

    jet Well-Known Member

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    It all depends on your driving style, I never cheap out on tires since they play a huge role. Having run ps1, two sets of s03s, ps2s in the past none of them compare to my re-01r. However the kind of people who run these are ones who don't complain about tire wear or high camber settings so basically do not get them since you are part of the majority.
     

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