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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Because I am a glutton for punishment, I like to buy really cheap cars that need a ton of work to make nice again. If you missed the last installment of this series, see here:

and the first installment of the series here:

Anywho, back in 2018 I picked up an e46 m3 for cheap! $2500 to be exact. A2001 titan silver over black coupe with piano black trim. Engine runs well and trans shifts fine. Car vibrates more than I'd like, but with a hair under 246k miles, I figured it just needed motor mounts. Turns out the car has polyurethane engine and trans mounts, as well as front control arm mounts. Going to swap the engine and trans mounts out for stock units.











Look ma, no sunroof!



A shockingly low number of error lights



Shifter has seen better days



Redying the seats



Not too shabby for just some cleaning and kiwi leather dye





Quick wash to rid 20 years of filth



 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So what does $2500 get you in the M3 world? A lot of work.

The car has pretty much sat since 2018. For various reasons, I never had the time to dedicate to it. Well I am now making the time, so that I can get it roadworthy again and back running and driving around as it should.



The car needs a respray. The rear quarters have typical E46 rust. Will need to source some repair panels, hopefully bmw still sells these pieces.





Luckily the car came with a box full of parts needed to refresh the rear subframe, which saves me a ton of money.



Step one: remove exhaust. Tried to separate it at the midsection but everything was seized together, so I had to take it down in one piece. Will probably cut off the flanges in the middle and convert to vband for any future ease of removal. Building this car for my GF to drive, so of course had to put her to work. When you can't find your safety glasses, snowboarding goggles will work just fine.





 

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that muffler looks like an odd combination of 3rd world engineering and Porsche tax :p

best of luck with the restoration! I look forward to learning more about your fix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Next step: Drop the driveshaft.



After that, I unhooked the brake calipers and worked them through the control arms so that they could hang freely from the chassis. I also undid the ebrake cables from the ebrake handle in the cabin, and pulled them out of the body. I tried removing them from the hub itself, but it was gonna be way more work to do it that way.



With all of the wire connections disconnected (ABS/ride height/brake pad wear) I went ahead and unbolted the subframe. I left the shock mount bolts in place so that the subframe could hang from the two shocks until I could lower the lift down and fully unbolt the subframe.



Once on the ground I unbolted the two rear shock bolts and she was officially removed





Front right subframe mount very close to ripping completely out of the body. Will probably have to tack it back in place before I can even remove the subframe mount stud.



Next step is removing the gas tank so I don't explode while welding. The E46 has two sides of the tank, each with a connection and various hoses. To get the ones undone that you can't access from inside the cabin, I unbolted the middle tank nut, and one tank strap. I then let the tank hang down to one side and removed all of the connections on that side. I then reattached that strap, and then removed the other strap so the other side could hang down. This let me work on the hoses without having to hold the tank up.

Passenger side



Drivers side



Lots of hoses on the drivers side.



One hiding on the passenger side as well



Tank officially out

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Snapped two T50 torx trying to get the rear bumper off. Ended up hammering a 12pt 13/16 socket onto each one and out they came.



4 parking distance sensors and a couple wheel liners later, she was off



pulled away the last of the heat shielding and underbody plastics



while removing what I am guessing is an evap system, a bunch of water came out of the trunk. fun.



And as the car sits right now. Gotta let the garage air out for a bit before I prep/weld.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
that muffler looks like an odd combination of 3rd world engineering and Porsche tax :p

best of luck with the restoration! I look forward to learning more about your fix.
Knock off Active Autowerke Muffler?

Thats a lot of miles for a car that im sure was used hard, i'm impressed its held together as well as it has.
Its a real Active Autowerke muffler as far as I can tell. Has the logo on the exhaust tips. $1200 just for the muffler, glad someone else paid for that. It actually sounds decent, which is hard for e46 m3's with exhaust. I have a stock e46 m3 muffler in case I get tired of it though.





Also forgot to post the front strut tower cracks, because why not. Luckily the kit I ordered includes reinforcements for the front and rear I believe. Both sides have cracks around the top hat mounting bolts. A likely outcome of being slammed on coilovers for many years.

 

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I was gonna say you stole that car for $2500 but looks like you've got quite a bit of work set out for cleaning it up. Still worth it vs parting out I'd say depending on end goals and how much scope creep you experience. Any idea of how healthy the engine is? S52's are no issue with going well past 200k but S54 don't seem to be up in that range as often. A friend picked up an ugly salvage ZHP with full M3 swap and subframe reinforcement for quite a bit more than this so I'd say you have room to spare for any profit margin. That is if you don't count your time as an additional cost haha.
 

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Very nice! Excited to see this project progress, loving seeing a neglected BMW brought back to life, especially one with that many miles
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was gonna say you stole that car for $2500 but looks like you've got quite a bit of work set out for cleaning it up. Still worth it vs parting out I'd say depending on end goals and how much scope creep you experience. Any idea of how healthy the engine is? S52's are no issue with going well past 200k but S54 don't seem to be up in that range as often. A friend picked up an ugly salvage ZHP with full M3 swap and subframe reinforcement for quite a bit more than this so I'd say you have room to spare for any profit margin. That is if you don't count your time as an additional cost haha.
At this point, I wouldn't consider owning really any RWD e46 that had not had the rear subframe reinforced. They all likely have subframe issues. so getting one with bad subframe cracks vs one with mild subframe cracks isn't really a big deal, since they all in my mind need the repair/reinforcement.

Engine runs great. I need to swap out a faulty oil level/temp sensor, but other than that no issues. trans shifts fine too. Will do plugs/oil/filter/transfluid before putting it back on the road. It has a K&N that I may clean up and reuse, or may just swap out for stock.
 

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Its a real Active Autowerke muffler as far as I can tell. Has the logo on the exhaust tips. $1200 just for the muffler, glad someone else paid for that. It actually sounds decent, which is hard for e46 m3's with exhaust. I have a stock e46 m3 muffler in case I get tired of it though.
Score! Keep it, I love Active Autowerkes quality. I used to have their C38 supercharger kit on an old E36 and loved every second of driving that car.
 

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IN!
I love these threads of yours. Keep it up!
 
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Fantastic project. Where/how did you find this? For $2,500 I'm assuming it's a salvage car or something?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Fantastic project. Where/how did you find this? For $2,500 I'm assuming it's a salvage car or something?
Clean title. I bought it from a girl whos cars I work on, and was originally gonna buy it for 3k but slept on it for a little bit at that price, so then when she hit me with 2500 I knew I needed to pick it up. Just high mileage and needing the subframe work. Itll be a great car that you can actually drive without worrying about it. With the way m3 prices are going, there won't be a ton of people out there ripping them for much longer.
 

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In! What a steal, even for the condition!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Anyone recognize these coilovers? They appear to have adjustable dampening, though I couldn't feel any difference in these old things. Likely tossing stock springs and struts back in this car.





Noticed some signs of previous owners messing with the wiring in the trunk. Passenger side looks like there was an amp of some sort. Drivers side I cant figure out why they're cut





I don't know what got into me, but things happened. I guess I will be doing body work after all.....





Under the trunk lid









I had the grinder out to clean up the subframe mounts but couldn't help myself... Anyways anywhere there is black sharpie is a crack that needs to get welded up before I can even reinforce anything.
















Nothing too crazy. should be able to knock out the welding tomorrow. Pretty beat from working on it today.
 

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