Three of a Kind: A Future Classic E46 M3 Mini-Meet
Same Same but Different: A Variety Pack of E46 M3
Never forget where you came from. It's a theme...actually better yet, a virtue, that applies to so many areas well beyond the automotive world. It's become almost second nature to continuously chase the next "thing" without acknowledging your roots.
I vividly remember looking at the three of these E46's together and thinking "yeah, this is why I will always be a BMW guy" despite how much Porsche has made a permanent home in prime real estate at the front of my mind. But it's true—the mere mention of BMW "back in the day" would stir excitement in my bones. Each of us were lucky enough to grow up around a variety of BMWs and those experiences made real impressions on us that would influence the cars that we seek out today.
The trio of us met during an era when the E46 M3 was sitting in showrooms—I was driving an E34, Chris (the Silver Grey car) an E30, and Mikey (the Interlagos Blue example) was piloting the nearest thing to the M3 at the time—an E46 330 (must be nice). Mikey and Chris both owned their E46 M3's long before I joined the party. Truth be told, as a diehard E36 M3 fan, I never really thought I'd find an E46 in my garage, but after driving the car that I call my own, I was smitten by the experience and quickly realized why the car is still amongst BMW's best.
All three cars adorned with FC club stickers in individual flavor
These two were some of the early supporters of Future Classic—both were witnesses to my ramblings while the idea of the brand was in infancy, so it really made me smile to see all three of these cars together. It's still amazing to step back and admire quickly FC has grown into a worldwide club and respected component manufacturer.
Mike's 2006 E46 M3 ZCP 6MT | Interlagos Blue + M-Texture Cloth
But I digress. Despite the FC familial tie, these three cars couldn't be more different. Mikey easily has the most pristine example, his 2006 Interlagos Blue 6MT ZCP example has seen less then 40,000 miles and has been the beneficiary of Mikey's exhaustive hunt for OEM CSL parts. As tribute to his pursuit of OEM perfection, his suspension remains as it would from the factory; the most glaring aftermarket enhancements come courtesy of an Eisenmann exhaust, Borla mid pipe, and Eventuri intake.
I always felt an extra bond with Chris as Bronzit brethren—he pushed the E30 platform further than anyone I knew at the time and his desire to be different, even as a peer, was a huge influence on me. By sharp contrast to Mikey's example, Chris's Silver Grey E46 has become a car built for two pleasures (street and track) and his "M Clubsport" club sticker caption reflects this duality.
Chris's 2004 E46 M3 SMG | Silver Grey + Black Leather
Chris shares Mikey's relentless pursuit of all things CSL and the pair of them makes me feel a bit ordinary with my OEM fascia and trunk lid. Being a dual duty machine, Chris has performed handfuls of mods that go unseen from afar—the whole car is sorted to keep up with his motorsport demands. The transformation from street to track car is made official with a set of Future Classic magnetic track numbers, specific to the E46 chassis.
I think the Silver Grey choice was rather fitting—while Chris used to pilot a Bronzit E30, his parents were proud owners of E36 M3's—both in Titanium and Arctic Silver (coupe and sedan respectively). Cool parents award.
While my Schwarz II example still wears its OEM bumpers, it is the only one of the bunch that is a factory slicktop. And unlike Mikey's pristine garage queen and Chris's dual duty machine, mine was built to be an enjoyable summer daily driver where its aftermarket enhancements are heavily biased toward suspension versus higher engine performance.
Mike's 2004 E46 M3 SMG Slicktop | Jet Black + Impulse Cloth
As such, my car wears a set of 18x10.5+20 Advan TCIII, KW 2-Way clubsports, and a generous helping of the E36 / E46 Fall-Line Motorsports suspension suite. A Rogue Engineering Diablo back-box and Eventuri intake add volume while the lack of aftermarket mid pipe fully embraces the S54's signature rasp as the plate suggests.
Interior Comparison: Can you spot all the differences?
It's a bit more challenging nowadays to get together with car friends, but the socially distanced mini meets have somehow made it more emotionally fulfilling. The intimacy really allows you to appreciate all of the cars' nuances—especially in this case—and actually have some real conversations with the owners. After all, although there's something grin-inducing about getting together and cruising with friends with the same cars, it's the actual friendships behind the cars that really make this niche hobby that much more special.
And while my garage in the future might see more company from neighbors in Stuttgart, it's the memories, friendships, and altogether joy that BMW has afforded me that will keep a stronghold of Munich right alongside them.
Front to Back: Future Classic team decals adorn each car's rear glass proudly
I'd be amiss if I didn't close with a thank you. I am eternally grateful for our worldwide Future Classic family and the local ones, like Mike and Chris, that have put FC on their shoulders from the start. Future Classic wouldn't be where it is today without all of your support and the support of our manufacturing partners and dealers, especially IND Distribution, who wholeheartedly believe in our earnest mission.