Real World Market Update on the BMW E46 M3 for 2018
2017 was a busy buying year for us at BMW Sports Car. After studying the E46 m3 on the used car market on several different websites and purchasing three BMW E46 M3s in the past 6 months we feel we have a great handle on the current market.
This is our summary of the current state of E46 M3 sales as we move forward to 2018. Now to put our disclaimers out there – this isn’t a scientific report. Its just based on a full year analyzing car prices for ask and sold on BMW E46 M3 models on several forums and car sale websites including:
- BMW Forums
- M3 Post
- BMW CCA website
- Bring a Trailer
While we are located in the Northeast we purchased 2 of our E46 M3s from the Southeast areas. We also were close to a 4th E46 m3 from the Midwest.
Flatten and Ready for a Rise
Overall the boom in BMW E46 M3 prices has not really happened. After many news articles in 2016 about the rise in E46 M3 prices, many sellers were looking at the start of the year for higher prices on their ‘for sale’ listings but what was asked and what prices were sold for were two different stories.
You can still find average mileage, good condition BMW E46 M3 for sale in the high teen to low$ 20,000.00 ranges. These are the cars built from 2001 to 2004 and may average around 10-12k miles a year from their built date. These cars will also tend to be OEM except for a few after-market pieces including exhausts and wheels. After more after-market tuned will affect prices. Buyers at this point want OEM wheels and body-color matched hoods, trucks, and panels.
The market for E46 M3 with the SMG transmission and convertibles were dismal. Most low teen selling cars were high-mileage cars with SMG or a convertible top, or worst both options. These cars were absolutely hard to sell at a higher price point.
But it seems that the market is getting ready for a bump up in prices for the upcoming year. Overall the market for good quality E46 M3 coupes with average miles and 6-speed transmissions have reached the bottom and has no place else to go but up.
Most Wanted is the Competition Package
With that said there was 1 type of BMW E46 M3 that saw prices rise in 2017 and that’s any 2005-2005 E46 M3 that has the Competition Package option known as ZCP. But they need to also be very OEM condition and low to average miles on them.
BMW Sports Car actually bought 2 BMW e46 M3 with the Competiton Package in 2017. The prices differed by 30% based on the mileage and the color/options of the car.
The first BMW E46 M3 with the ZCP we bought was the 2005 Alpine White with Cinnamon interior version, and 6-speed manual transmission. The car was fairly OEM except for an after-market LED headlight system replacing the standard Xenon headlights on a 2005 model.
The mileage on the car was 100k, making it slightly below average for a 12 year of car. The color combination is very rare as well, with Alpine White not very common on the E46 M3 in the 2000’s. With a clean title, mileage and color combination – we were able to pick up the car for the low 20,000.00 price range. Which was a heck of a deal. Currently, this car can be sold in the mid 20k range and once we update the headlights to the original OEM set, it can be even worth more.
Our second E46 M3 with the Competition Package cost 30% more but was worth it for its options – or lack of them.
We bought a 2006 BMW E46 M3 in Interlagos Blue and M-Texture interior. The Interlagos Blue was exclusive to the E46 M3 as a ZCP optioned car. Rarer is the M-Texture fabric interior. This consists of the seats and door interiors having a BMW designed fabric seat and leather combo. The seats are manually adjusted as well. To top the rareness of this car, it’s also a ‘slicktop’ or non-sunroof car.
This car only has 71,000 miles and also a 6-speed manual. This is a future collectible. We paid $33,000.00 for the car and expect it to rise in value within the upcoming years.
Seeing Red on the E46 M3
As mentioned, it’s still obtainable to buy a good condition E46 M3 for a fair price. And sometimes if you are very lucky you can get a hell of a deal as well. As was the case for our 2004 BMW E46 M3 we purchased from the original owners.
Making way for a new BMW M car they have ordered, we were able to purchase the 90k mile BMW E46 M3 for $15,000.00.
It was a custom order car with Imola Red exterior and Imola Red interior. Imola Red interiors are very rare and are high in demand. The Red on Red does fit in the category of an ‘acquired’ taste, but we liked it. The car was also a 6-speed manual and fully in OEM condition.
We were able to find the for sale listing exactly on the day it was placed and were the 1st people to see and then buy the car. So deals do happen if you look constantly and have a bit of luck.
But even in the open market, this car would at most go for 19-20k with all the proper maintenance and preventative parts done (i.e. Vanos retrofit and sub-frame re-inforced).
Wrap Up: What to look for in 2018
If you been on the fence on buying a BMW E46 M3, time is running out. Don’t feel rushed, there are still good cars and good deals to be had, but after 2018 prices for the E46 M3 should be moving up. Once the new year begins we will have a better idea if prices will be creeping up compared to 2017 or if we still have a low until the market goes bullish.
So things to keep in mind as you buy:
2001-2003 cars: These will be the cheapest cars to buy due to the early year models and before the LCI updates on the 2003.5 to 2006 models. Remember to look for the rod bearing recall done on any 2001-2003 cars you look at – they were free from BMW.
Note that special color cars like Phoenix Yellow or Laguna Seca Blue may buck the trend and ask for more money. Already there’s a cult following for Laguna Seca Blue cars and prices for these have crept up based on small supply and demand. Both Phoenix Yellow and Laguna Seca Blue were launch colors. You will find Laguna Seca Blue as custom ordered cars in later years (i.e. 2004 and up).
2005-2006 cars: These are the last year cars and will be the most desirable for due to having all the updates available. Again, look for the lowest mileage car you can find and afford. The lower the miles, the better for resale.
Mileage: Anything under 100k miles is low considering the age of the earliest BMW E46 M3. Anything lower will bring the price higher.
Transmission: The market has spoken – we are not here to debate if SMG is better or worst then a 6-speed manual transmission. The market is much cheaper for an SMG equipped M3 compared to one with a 6-speed. It’s just the facts. And even if you get a great deal on an SMG car and do the 6-speed manual swap, it may not bring the same resale value due to not being original in nature.
Competition Package (ZCP): These are the creme-ala-creme for E46 M3 cars. Expect to pay premium pricing for these cars now, and in the future. Look for low mileage and the 6-speed manual. Also look for other special options like sunroof delete (i.e. slicktop).