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80 Rabbit, 80 Maplebar, 81 Rabbit, 04 ZHP
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And all 330s got the better rack. The zhp did get a better rear end ratio, short shifter, different cams and some interior goodies.

Can you track a e46 vert without an aftermarket roll bar? It does have factory rollover protection.
 

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A chili pepper and an empty crate.
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Those are brilliant cars and would be one of my top choices for a back road burner. Amazing drivers, great sound, feel etc., and having the top down takes the experience to 11. Even the door height is somehow exactly right to rest your arm on as the air rushes past.

That said, for a track car...eh, not so sure. With the hardtop and roll bar I'd feel safe enough personally, but that's not my issue. If you can test drive it, try and take it somewhere with expansion joints or other rough features, with the hardtop installed or the softop up. The worst part about BMW cabriolets is the cowl shake, and even on the street it is noticable and can be unnerving; not something I'd want to experience touching a curb at triple digits.
 

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1989 M3, 1998 M3, 2000 323it
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I'd take an e46 330ci over an m3 cab if you want to take it to the track, but want cheap(ish) RWD bmw.
 
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I'd take an e46 330ci over an m3 cab if you want to take it to the track, but want cheap(ish) RWD bmw.
I think I have to agree with this. While the M3 has its merits, I almost think its over hyped. The 330ci, while not as sharp, is substantially cheaper because its overshadowed by the M3. Most mods for an M3 to be a track weapon, are the same/similar for the 330ci. The only downsides are no LSD, and you don't get the M3's screamer of an engine. That said, I think the M54 makes torque earlier in the rev band than the S54 in the M3. Could be wrong on that last point though.
 
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I know you've had several of these- I'm familiar with the issues that the S54 can have, but is there anything specific to the E46 M3 that I should be concerned about? It's a stick, so no SMG to worry about.

Do they have steering rack issues? A/C issues?

The car sounds like it's okay, but it does have some issues so I'm wondering if it's common or not. I'm going to have a local BMW specialist do a PPI on it.
I don't know about a power steering issue nor A/C issue, never had any issues with either in the 10+ years of ownership and multiple E46 M3s. I have boiled my power steering fluid at Tail of the Dragon but thats me, not the car.(8000rpms and a sharp corner every 5 feet)

If you want a quicker rack, there are a few options but all are getting pricey.

32132229397 E46 M3 rack 15.4:1
32132282642 E46 M3 comp package or CSL rack 14.5:1 (What I upgraded to)
32132282296 330 ZHP rack 13.7:1 (Good option for the cost)
32107838794 Z4M Coupe 12.7:1 (Good luck finding one)($2k remaned)

What is with BMW and coolant systems? While about on a business trip my old E36's plastic pump impeller failed and left me stranded in front of a massive Evangel tent in BFE . They offered to push the car into the tent, I instead asked them to lay hands on the hood and heal her, neither option panned out :D
The radiator is more of a problem, my guess is because of the plastic end tanks and also because it is just big enough to cool the engine down, once you bend enough fins with age, radiator will struggle to cool the car at a track.

Are this gen M3 have VANOS problems? no a cheap problem
All S54s have a potential problem with Vanos but its over exaggerated.
 

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I'd take an e46 330ci over an m3 cab if you want to take it to the track, but want cheap(ish) RWD bmw.
I think I have to agree with this. While the M3 has its merits, I almost think its over hyped. The 330ci, while not as sharp, is substantially cheaper because its overshadowed by the M3. Most mods for an M3 to be a track weapon, are the same/similar for the 330ci. The only downsides are no LSD, and you don't get the M3's screamer of an engine. That said, I think the M54 makes torque earlier in the rev band than the S54 in the M3. Could be wrong on that last point though.
These posts made me feel good.
 

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I disagree with tracking a 330i, I had a ZHP and loved it but ran into an issue with pushing it. ZHPs have hydraulic lifters and they don't like being held at higher rpms for long. I had a few instances where the lifters would collapse and the engine would rattle like a bucket of bolts, I could have upgraded to better or solid lifters but just dialed back my driving.

Personally, I think the ZHP is a better everyday car, M3 is better at being a special car. The transmission in the ZHP feels better than the transmission in the M3 but ZHP lacks the LSD diff. The stock suspension on the ZHP is better then what the M3 has. My brother owns my previous ZHP and still loves dailying it at 180k+ miles.

Back when I owned the ZHP.

 

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I’m definitely not suggesting a 330i cab. I’m suggesting that a coupe, and the lower weight will provide far more benefit in terms of overall feel and safety on a track than the benefits of an s54 over an m54. I’m not saying verts can’t be track cars, but that quality is reserved for light, small 2 seaters like the s2k, miata and boxster. Even an e36 328is or something would be way up the ladder over an e46 m3 cab.
 

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The only reason I'm even considering an M3 Cab is because it's local and a good deal. No way would I consider a 330 cab.
yeah, back to your particular circumstance:

I think it comes down to just how good a "deal" this car is, and whether your primary/only intent is to track it.

If it's a good deal, and you want an awesome/fun weekend cruiser with occasional (maybe a handful of times a year) track use. Then why not.

If you want a dedicated track toy that can be driven to and from, I'd probably spend my money elsewhere. Only because it's a cab and not a coupe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
yeah, back to your particular circumstance:

I think it comes down to just how good a "deal" this car is, and whether your primary/only intent is to track it.

If it's a good deal, and you want an awesome/fun weekend cruiser with occasional (maybe a handful of times a year) track use. Then why not.

If you want a dedicated track toy that can be driven to and from, I'd probably spend my money elsewhere. Only because it's a cab and not a coupe.
I’m only considering the car because it’s at least $10k cheaper than a coupe, comes with the factory hardtop for year-round usability and it would make for a fun car. Obviously it’s compromised as a track car.

I will look at it later this week so we’ll see. Otherwise I’m going to get a Miata most likely.
 

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I’m only considering the car because it’s at least $10k cheaper than a coupe, comes with the factory hardtop for year-round usability and it would make for a fun car. Obviously it’s compromised as a track car.

I will look at it later this week so we’ll see. Otherwise I’m going to get a Miata most likely.
In for pics and observations then.
 

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I owned one for 14ish months, and sold it at the worst possible time, March 2020.

This was mine.

I had no problems with it, but did a lot of preventative maintenance on it, expecting to have it long term. Unfortunately, wife got pregnant and it ending up sitting in the garage.

No better feeling than ripping around a roundabout with the top down. Not sure about it on the track, but I feel it was a much better experience than the coupe as a weekend car. That's what I bought it for, so while I did test drive the coupe, the convertible appealed to my use more.

Let me know if you have any specific questions.
 

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I owned one for 14ish months, and sold it at the worst possible time, March 2020.

This was mine.

I had no problems with it, but did a lot of preventative maintenance on it, expecting to have it long term. Unfortunately, wife got pregnant and it ending up sitting in the garage.

No better feeling than ripping around a roundabout with the top down. Not sure about it on the track, but I feel it was a much better experience than the coupe as a weekend car. That's what I bought it for, so while I did test drive the coupe, the convertible appealed to my use more.

Let me know if you have any specific questions.
That was super clean, and damn, what a deal for the new owner.
 

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I’m only considering the car because it’s at least $10k cheaper than a coupe, comes with the factory hardtop for year-round usability and it would make for a fun car. Obviously it’s compromised as a track car.

I will look at it later this week so we’ll see. Otherwise I’m going to get a Miata most likely.
Miata is always the answer! FWIW I'm switching to an SM car soon. The lure of affordable, available parts and spec racing is too strong. Plus I figure not having power to mask my mistakes will make me a better driver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
I owned one for 14ish months, and sold it at the worst possible time, March 2020.

This was mine.

I had no problems with it, but did a lot of preventative maintenance on it, expecting to have it long term. Unfortunately, wife got pregnant and it ending up sitting in the garage.

No better feeling than ripping around a roundabout with the top down. Not sure about it on the track, but I feel it was a much better experience than the coupe as a weekend car. That's what I bought it for, so while I did test drive the coupe, the convertible appealed to my use more.

Let me know if you have any specific questions.
Thank you- did you find any unexpected issues or issues at all during your ownership?
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Miata is always the answer! FWIW I'm switching to an SM car soon. The lure of affordable, available parts and spec racing is too strong. Plus I figure not having power to mask my mistakes will make me a better driver.
Does that mean you're going to ditch the 718 Cayman?

I'm thinking NC Miata; the NA and NB are a bit too old.

Barring any other problems, I'm going to look at this M3 Friday, although the Miata is most likely the answer. :LOL:
 

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Does that mean you're going to ditch the 718 Cayman?

I'm thinking NC Miata; the NA and NB are a bit too old.

Barring any other problems, I'm going to look at this M3 Friday, although the Miata is most likely the answer. :LOL:
I had my last session in it Monday, almost cried lol, that car is awesome and I will miss it. No worries though, we got a 911 allocation for my wife finally so I’m trading it in toward that and don’t expect I’ll drive it much less than she does.

And yeah I’d prefer an NC or ND too if it weren’t for SM. They really aren’t that much bigger but are a lot nicer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I had my last session in it Monday, almost cried lol, that car is awesome and I will miss it. No worries though, we got a 911 allocation for my wife finally so I’m trading it in toward that and don’t expect I’ll drive it much less than she does.

And yeah I’d prefer an NC or ND too if it weren’t for SM. They really aren’t that much bigger but are a lot nicer.
Well in that case, I don't feel bad for you. :LOL:

There is Spec MX-5, you know. The NCs are outdated now that they've moved on to NDs, so you can pick them up for a pretty reasonable price for a factory-built race car. Not as cheap as a Spec Miata, but still.
 

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Well in that case, I don't feel bad for you. :LOL:

There is Spec MX-5, you know. The NCs are outdated now that they've moved on to NDs, so you can pick them up for a pretty reasonable price for a factory-built race car. Not as cheap as a Spec Miata, but still.
Haha you shouldn't, I don't feel bad for myself either I just can't help being sad. And yep Spec MX-5 and MX-5 cup too are both interesting. I haven't even bought the NB yet, but I think I've already got the next owner lined up. His son is 12 and will be ready for it hopefully when I'm ready to move up. Plotting a side career here. 😂
 
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