Classifieds Challenge: Mystic Blue E46 M3 Versus Alpine White E92 M3

For last week’s Classifieds Challenge, we examined one of the many intricacies of the BMW vintage market: the exquisite—but appreciating—1M Coupe and its contemporary replacement, the M2 Competition. While it will be interesting to see what that market does in the next few years, there are some other comparisons in the BMW marketplace that are just as interesting to explore.

This week, we’re going to look at a car that has started back up on its depreciation curve, and another car that hasn’t yet bottomed out. The former is, of course, the E46 M3, the latter its successor, the E92 M3. As usual, we’ll be pulling from the always-well-stocked BMW CCA Classifieds for our two examples.

First up is the E46 M3, and we’ve found what looks to be an excellent example. The detailed listing found here indicates this Mystic Blue six-speed M3 coupe has been driven just 41,389 miles in its fifteen years on the road, and it features a sought-after equipment setup for the E46 chassis. It’s a six-speed manual, but with plenty of options, including Park Distance Control and the updated navigation setup.

The seller has also indicated that the general weak points on the chassis are of no concern in this example; interior sag is claimed to be non-existent, and the subframe and VANOS system are both said to be in good shape.

What this car boils down to is perhaps the peak of the semi-analog M-car era: a six-speed, straight-six tribute to perhaps the ultimate BMW chassis. But of course all that heritage comes at a price: The owner of this low-mile example is asking a whopping $33,950.

Now, in order to be recognized for a distinguished heritage, a car’s replacement needs to evolve dramatically—and that’s what we’re looking at next. The E92 M3 is also widely recognized as one of the greats—a “last-of” model that brings together all the precision of BMW and the height of engine design at the time of its production.

Interestingly, the range of prices for E92 M3s seems to be hovering across the $30,000–40,000 range—making it ripe for a comparison against pristine examples of the earlier E46. The E92 we’re looking at today is slim on details, but seems to be representative of the market for the high-precision V8 screamer. It’s a DCT car, but handsomely outfitted in Alpine White over Fox Red, and with just about 78,000 miles. It’s also had some recent maintenance, which brings about a certain liability of the more modern platform: the potential for dramatic repair bills.

The entry fee for the last naturally-aspirated M car? A modest $28,500, making it more than $3,000 cheaper than the pristine E46 we looked at earlier. So we leave it to you, the enthusiasts: which would you choose?

Let us know which car and why in the comments. Listings are here for the E46 and here for the E92 on the BMW CCA Classifieds. —David Rose

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