Ode to a lost love...
Rewind to 2015 and I was a couple years out of Uni. Having driven an old beat up Nissan Pulsar and a wee Mazda 121 bubble, I finally had saved a little cash to buy something that I wanted (and far less embarrassing).
With my meagre $6k budget I had limited options; I was looking at Mk4 and Mk5 Golfs, BMW 3 series, or a Mazda 3.
But as soon as I hopped in the E46 I knew she was the one... but she was out of my budget (insert sad music).
I had found a single owner 2001 example, super clean, with a perfect service record, rare M-Sport black leather interior and a low 120,000km on the clock. I asked the guy if I could get it mechanically inspected - the inspector said, and I quote, "I have never seen one of these cars in such good condition, it's perfect." Internally I cried, thinking there was no room for negotiation.
Luckily for me, the seller was tired of 'no-shows' and needed the cash for a house deposit so he quickly knocked off $2500, took my money and shed a tear as we parted ways.
(Side note - $6000 felt pretty good, as these cars were $75,450 MRSP in 2001 - nearly $120,000 by todays standards.)
It was love, hate, pleasure and pain! Over time I made small tasteful modifications such as tinted windows, 18-inch replica M3 rims, lowering kit, Apple CarPlay head unit, boot lip spoiler and some decent rubber (it's so easy to get parts online and at wreckers).
But I also had to redo the entire cooling system, fix sagging roof liner, sump gasket, cooling system (again), fix window regulators (more than once), and a whole bunch of other stuff that I have repressed due to financial trauma. Despite everything, I was never stranded on the side of the road, and most of my maintenance was preventative.
Over my ownership I spent more money than the car was worth but as they say, "Never buy an old Beemer if you cant afford to fix it."
But there was a reason for that. I loved driving it.
One thing that never became tired was the poise and power of the car; no matter how much you pushed it around corners, it stuck to the road like glue.
Brand new, she would zoom from 0-100km/h in the early 8 seconds (yes, I know that's slow by today's standards), and with that on hand, it made road trips down south of WA more than just a boring drive. I was happy to zoom past a road train without any doubt in her abilities.
The sound and the smoothness of a straight six engine is something to behold, and coupled with a willing steptronic gearbox which loves to be redlined, I could not help but roll down the windows and feeling the reward of the love and care I had put into her.
The M52B engine has been called one of BMW's best (check Google if you don't believe me), and there is a certain feeling about driving a classic rear-wheel drive that very few cars can give today. It's something I can't put into words. In my time I have driven modern cars such as the Kia Stinger, the Audi RS3, RS4, RS5, and Golf R and yes, they are so much faster. But still... she was my first love.
Last month, mother dearest borrowed her. A short trip that ended with the E46 being a complete write off. The hard work, tears and joy came to an abrupt end. The E46s are slowly starting to creep up in value now, with the 330's getting rare! I have zero doubt these cars are a future classic.
Goodbye, dearest Adeline (yes I name my cars).