The E46 3 Series, and more specifically the E46 M3, are experiencing a renaissance right now. In previous decades, the Three from a few generations back was considered old news not worthy of much attention beyond the sales pitch at a second-hand lot, while today, clean E46 M3 coupes are changing hands at some of the highest prices sine the model was still in production, and even nice examples of 330i sedans, coupes, and convertibles are riding the wave of appreciation.
It’s easy to see why; more than a few of us remember the entire E46 quite fondly, and over the past twenty years, many BMW enthusiasts discovered their obsession hind the wheel of one. Excellent balance, direct steering, and mechanics that can be serviced without specific diagnostic systems and tools are among just a few benefits of the E46, which still has the capability to be adapted to semi-modern technology if an owner requires it.
With those characteristics in mind, the E46 M3 was an easy choice for the basis of Turner BMW Service & Repair’s next project, the Turnicorn M3. Starting with a well-kept pre-2003.5 M3 coupe, Turner plans to take one of the best driver’s cars ever made to another level, by dropping the incredible 8,400-rpm S65B40 V8 of the E9X M3 into its engine bay. The project is intended to achieve a factory level of fit and finish, which may leave the uninformed thinking that the E46 was built by BMW in such a configuration.
If you’re at all concerned about taking what looks to be a well-preserved E46 M3, ripping its glorious S54 engine out, and substantially modifying things to accept the V8, the team at Turner is just the specialized unit of professionals to put your mind at ease. With decades of experience and passion brought to the table by the entire crew, this M3 will be a project that is worth following to completion. Some may also take solace in the fact that the S65B40, despite having a larger displacement, more cylinders, and being a V8, actually weighs 33 pounds less than the S54, all while making significantly more power.
Check out the first episode of the build process, which features a full introduction, above.—Alex Tock
[Video courtesy Turner Motorsport.]