Don’t you just love people who claim you can own an object of desire for a pittance? That the world is wrong and they just don’t know where to look? This certainly seemed to be the case for me and my search of a car I have wanted for quite some time ; the BMW E46 M3.
With its individual throttle bodies, great looks and lovely handling it had me written over it. Sure there is the question of image but who cares when you are having so much fun?
So, the budget. What would it be? If eBay is to be believed and other people down the pub this should have been dead easy Oh, and the internet is always right, right?. After all, back in 2014 M3s had dropped to an all time low in value! So off I went in my search in May 2016, with a budget of £9,000 but hoping to stay around the £6,000. After all I don’t mind getting my hands too dirty but I also hate a money pit! We all know have a £6,000 car can quickly become an £11,000+ car, still with its faults. But we all cannot resist a bargain:
I don’t think that I was too picky with my specification. I wanted the following if I could help it:
Any car except Titan Silver
Preferably a manual
Evidence of good maintenance over the years, be it specialists or simply receipts to show what work the car has had done
Good service history from when it was new
New Discs ; I was wise enough to check the price of these!
New but good Tyres ; I was also wise enough to check the price up!
A half decent drive
With the latter two my jaw almost hit the floor when I saw the prices of them
With me previously owning a Clio 172 and a Mondeo V6 with 250,000 miles I thought the above should have been easy.
I had a few contenders to go and see. These included the following:
- A Titan Silver Car with a black leather interior. It was a manual coupe with 128,000 miles on the clock. Oddly it was the only one I saw being sold by a trader and also it was the cheapest. £6750 to be exact.
- A Mystic Blue with Grey Leather SMG model. This would be the first SMG coupe car I saw. It had 112,000 miles on the clock, a new clutch and only 2 owners. This car? £8,100
- A Laguna Seca Blue and black leather M3. Also a manual this had 111,000 miles. It did have many new parts including discs and an exhaust put on. This was on for £8,000. It was however in Northern Ireland
- A Phoenix Yellow and black leather Cabrio. As another manual this had 75,000 miles on the clock and was owned by a retired BMW technician. The price? £9,000.
- A Carbon Black and red leather Cabrio. This was another SMG. It had a bit of work done to it including new lower arms etc. and so on. This was one of the cheaper cars for sale at £7,000.
- Another Titan Silver and Black manual entered the scene. This was an 84,000 mile car being sold by a dealer. It had 12 months MOT and was ready to go. This one was £8,900.
- This is almost like Deja vu! I found an almost identical car to the above! Another Mystic Blue car with Grey leather! It had more miles on at 122,000 miles and also had been owned for just over a year with plenty of MOT left.
All were claimed to be in great condition upon the first glance of the advert and the pictures. After all a picture can speak 1,000 words. So with that respect, surely 8 pictures can speak 8,000 words combined together?
While I did not expect perfection I wanted a clean and tidy car. I figured with my then 2003 Clio 172 being very tidy for its age this should have been a walk in the park. With plenty of tools at my disposal like My Car Buying Guide it should have given me an idea of what I was about to see! Surely they would pass the mark with flying colours.
Little did I know, I had no idea what I was about to let myself in for.