What makes it so special?
This could be the start of something new. It's always hard to predict what older vehicles are going to increase in popularity and value but some are far more likely than others to do just that. The E46 BMW M3 Coupe might be one of them. How do we know this? Because an all-original, 12,000-mile 2004 model year example just sold for $85,000 on Bring A Trailer. To compare, a brand new BMW M4 Coupe carries a starting price of just under $72,000.
This E46 M3 was purchased new by the sellers in San Francisco, California nearly 18 years ago and has managed to keep it in nearly mint condition. It's finished in a gorgeous Imola Red II with Shadowline trim, black-finished grilles and fender vents over black Nappa leather.
Power comes by way of the S54 3.2-liter inline-six, the last version of the S50 naturally aspirated engine family. Total output comes to 333 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. This example comes with the more desirable six-speed manual transmission with a limited-slip diff instead of the six-speed automatic. Power, of course, goes directly to the rear wheels.
Also included are xenon headlights, fog lights, a glass sunroof, LED taillights, a trunk lid spoiler, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and quad exhaust. Dynamic Stability Control is also included. The only known damage, caused by a bicycle accident, occurred on the left fender. There's no history of major accidents. The 19-inch M double-spoke wheels still look fantastic.
Inside, there's an era-appropriate BMW Business CD stereo, a Harmon Kardon audio system, and automatic climate and cruise control. The sale also included plenty of original documentation, like the window sticker (showing a $55,220 MSRP), service records, and BMW literature.
So, the main and really only question is whether $85k was justifiable. It's hard to say. Bear in mind that the original M3 coupe, the E30, has dramatically increased in popularity over the past few years with some low-mileage examples surpassing the $100k mark at auction. A majority hover at around the $60k to $85k range. It's certainly possible E46 M3s, assuming they're in good unmodified condition with low mileage, could be the next desired classic BMW M model. This is definitely something collectors should keep an eye on.