Bought my first M3! with a slight hiccup…

An exciting day, picking up my new BMW M3!  I’ve been a massive BMW fan for years. Don’t get me wrong I really appreciate the mighty Audi RS’s and awesomely powerful Mercedes AMGs but I’ve always stuck with BMW. I guess its familiarity with the brand, the connected to the road feel when you drive, the handling etc. are all factors that have kept me going back. My Dad also has always had the latest 7 series apart from more recently moving to the 6 series Gran Coupe so perhaps that’s another reason.

This would be my 8th BMW and my first M model. I had always struggled to see the benefit of paying almost double with an M when the next model down on a regular series BMW would often be newer, have fewer miles and offer lower running costs whilst the performance was still respectable. It wasn’t until actually driving the M that made me see the difference!

The E90/92/93 M3 was the first and only M3 model that boasted a V8 engine. A unique V8 at that, specifically designed by BMW’s Motorsport division for this M3 model. That engine being the S65 V8, basically an 8 cylinder version of the famous S85 v10 that first appeared in the M5 E60 and M6 E63. I always wanted to own that particular M5 since I saw the famous Top Gear review by Jeremy Clarkson back in 2005 where he compared driving it in M mode to driving a Ferrari F-430, a car I happened to have loved as my Dad used to own one. In fact I started my search by looking at the E60 M5s and compared them to the M3s.

Having said that the M3 V8 had always caught my eye since they first went on sale back in 2007. At that time I owned a beautiful silver E46 330ci which I had converted to a M sport edition. As nice as that was I really wanted the E46 M3 and then the new M3 when it launched, but both were out of my price range at that time.

So now in 2015, I’ve recently had my fortieth birthday and thought now is as good a time as any to distract myself from that slightly depressing fact with a lovely new toy! As I mentioned above I started my search looking E60 M5. As I have 3 young kids I needed a car with 5 seats so we can all travel together. The M5 obviously is perfect on that score, also being that bit bigger means you can fit a generous amount of luggage too. However despite some amazing examples two things struct me with the M5s I viewed; 1) there were a lot of them for sale, some amazing examples but many not so amazing with high mileage and not very well looked after 2) I wasn’t massively keen on the look of the car especially those front lights and the styling is very subtle on the original versions I viewed. I wanted something that stood out more. Of the examples I viewed that did look mean with some after-market mods (never beautiful) they looked like they had been thrashed and I felt the M3’s had the edge in the looks department.

So I started also started looking at my old time favourite the E46 M3. They only ever offered this as a Coupe, and as with all E46 Coupe’s they had 3 seats in the back. I didn’t realise that the newer V8 Coupe’s  were all 4 seaters, 3 seats in the back not being an option. So that wrote off the E92 from my list. However, BMW did relaunch the saloon variants with these new V8’s, the E90. The last saloon M3 and the first they produced was the E36 back in 1992. Going back to the 5 seater E46 M3s, the only drawback was that due to the finance I had in place the car has to be less than six years old which meant I would have to fund the car myself, and examples at my budget had high mileage and were generally showing their age. The finer low mileage examples were almost as much as the newer E90/92’s in some cases!

So I settled on looking at the M5s and newer M3s. The only thing was I wasn’t crazy on the regular E90 3 series styling at all, especially the bonnet housing the top part of the kidney grille which I always thought looked odd (sorry any E90 owners!) however the E90 M3 ditched that for the same front styling of the M3 Coupe E92, so from the front they look exactly the same. Also something I hadn’t even realised was that this car was relatively rare, in fact I’d never seen one before I started my search, however there are a lot more Coupe (E92) and Convertible (E93) versions about. When I came to first view the M3 I have just purchased today, I had just seen the M5 V10, and was blown away by its sound. I was viewing the M3 but had my heart set on the car I’d just seen. The pictures of this M3 didn’t do it justice at all, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that in person it definitely looked much better, sounded similarly amazing to the V10 thanks to the beefy V8, and the real game changer was the Double Clutch Transmission (DCT) which made the M5’s SMG gear changing feel clunky. After seeing it and driving it I was sold!

So today, my fiancee Louise and I  travelled up from South West London to Rybrook BMW in Worcester in a one way/drop off rental to collect my first BMW M3! The car was first registered in December 2010 (so four and a half years old), one previous owner, 32k in miles and was completely original as it came out of the factory. So perfect for me, as I want to be the one to transform this car into something far more than that!

All went well with the pickup, apart from Louise got to drive the car first (arghhh!) as I had to take the rental to the local drop-off location in Worcester which was hard to find and seemed to take forever!

Once dropped off, I finally got to drive the beast! Amazing, it wasn’t long before I was in manual mode using the paddle shift to go through the 7 gears. I discovered the amazing shift lights once in ‘M’ mode which really changed drive completely to be much more aggressive with the full 420bhp in force. The engine sounded amazing especially at those higher revs and I really got a chance to open the car up on the M5 (the motorway I mean, not racing one!) it was amazing to really put my foot down without worrying about the salesman in the back wondering if I was a serious buyer or not! We couldn’t resist a slight detour/pit stop on our way back near Coventry to drop in on Louise’s parents and her younger brother to show off the car as you do. Her Dad and brother really appreciated the car, they had no idea we were buying it so was great to show it off!

Once we left them, we stopped at a local Morison’s to buy some music for the journey home. Ironically that is where day one’s journey ended… I should have just listened to my inner self knowing the real music was the coming out of the V8 and that should have been that. When we got out of the car I stupidly thought best not leave the documents on view in the nice M3 folder wallet that comes with the car and instead of simply carrying it with me, I decided to put this awkwardly into the glove compartment. BIG MISTAKE.

After getting back to the car with our new music collection ready for a blast back down to London, my worst nightmare. The car wouldn’t start! Why??? Everything was fine when we left. Start button… nothing. What was I doing wrong? I took the wallet out of the glove box and fumbled through the manual and documents in search of a clue. Nothing shed any light on why the car wouldn’t start. Had they (the dealership) seen me coming? a rip off??? this was from a BMW dealership so I knew worst case scenario the car would have to go back there. After trying everything I knew (which wasn’t much) I realised it was time to call BMW’s recovery service. They promptly sent out a recovery guy but even he couldn’t diagnose the issue. He had his machines connected up to the engine and tried everything himself. It was getting late. By the time he finished it was too late for a flatbed recovery vehicle to arrive as all had 3 hour plus waiting times, being one of the hottest days of the year they were extremely busy. I didn’t really fancy my new M3 going on some flatbed and potentially to some garage I didn’t know anyway so I thought I’ll just have to call the dealership in the morning and see if they could recover the car directly. In short, night number one of M3 ownership and I end up having to leave it in a Morrison’s car park in Coventry overnight. Not ideal!

We also had to get back to London for work and our kids who were with a babysitter. So we left the keys with Louise’s parents and the next day I called the dealership and made arrangements for the recovery. I was gutted, I’d not even managed to get the M3 back and it was already going on a flatbed and back to the garage.

Then I get a call from the salesman from BMW who had contacted the previous owner asking him if there could be any reason that this might of happened. It was a long shot but he just thought it was very odd as the car had been fine. Turns out the previous owner had forgot to mention the secret immobiliser button hidden in the glove box! When I forced that documents folder in there, it knocked it. Doh! Idiot. So I had to then get Louise’s mum to go the car, try and explain to her to press that button which I myself hadn’t seen and also how to start the car up. After some trial and error, it worked! My other half went straight back up to Coventry to get the car as I was working and was back home by the time I finished work. So my first ever proper drive in the M3 ended unexpectedly, I missed out on the nice long and not to mention fast journey back, but hey at least we got the M3 back in the end.

Luckily there would be plenty more shall we say thrilling journeys to come…



3 Series, M3

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