J.A. Ackley
J.A. Ackley Senior Editor
9/21/22 8:25 a.m.

Competitive, clean racing? A cool, fast, hassle-free car? Spec E46 drivers report that the class delivers. 

“I don’t come expecting to win,” BimmerWorld’s James Clay says about the Spec E46 class. “The cars are so even that even with a top car, it’s never a guarantee.”

Two drivers, Evan Levine and Jason Tower, have spearheaded the Spec E46 effort since …

Read the rest of the story

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/21/22 10:20 a.m.

I'm not saying that every car ever made should be turned into a race car, but I think there is no such thing as too many spec racing series–from Lamborghinis to Nissan Sentras (and everything else in between).

mdshaw
mdshaw HalfDork
9/22/22 5:00 a.m.

The only thing I don't like about the BMW spec series is the amount of great future street cars that get removed from circulation. Whether in crashes or just being converted to race cars. 
Like the e30. There would be lots more available today.  

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
9/22/22 7:44 a.m.

Having built a Spec E30, I can tell you most of the donor cars weren't nice, original street cars.  Tired, clapped out cars with completely shot interiors and non-functioning power accessories. Or, 'eta' cars that were worth nothing that got an engine transplant. E30s now have become too valuable and I suspect the series will slowly dry up.

It's interesting that Spec 3 pretty much bombed and everyone jumped right over those to E46s. 

Racing in a spec series is a really good way to go. Almost always someone to race with no matter your speed level. 

livinon2wheels
livinon2wheels GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/22/22 7:56 a.m.

If there were enough of them left, I would love to see the same kind of approach taken with Subaru Legacy sedans or wagons, preferably wagons, just because a fast wagon is just way more cool. There are parts to support a series like that, one of those wagons on coilovers and decent rubber with mildly upgraded brakes makes for an awfully well balanced platform. The relative lack of speed parts for normally aspirated subaru engines keeps the competition tight. I'd even vote maybe to have a designated engine supplier for the class so any engine advantages are minimized, sort of like the old days when some racing series required a sealed up engine from a certain supplier to prevent unfair advantages. Think of all the wagons subaru made between 2000 and 2009? Or if you really dont get the wagon thinking, they have made way more sedans than wagons and over more years- a sedan class would be close affordable racing because the cars are relatively cheap, fairly easy to work on, and with basic suspension and braking mods would make effective track toys that would live with moderate attention between events and provide close racing. Anyone have any thoughts about this?

Taylor Johnson
Taylor Johnson New Reader
10/15/22 9:26 p.m.

In reply to ddavidv :

Spec3 had a slow start initially (global recession, cars not being fast enough with the intial rules, 15 inch wheels didn't look good) , but has seen a rebirth in the last 2 years after some great rule changes. We have 25+ racers on the east coast now and another 30+ builds in progress. We'll be as big as Spec E46 eventually, mark my words. 

200mph
200mph Reader
12/19/22 9:46 a.m.

My son and I race SpecE46.  Best thing: the founders have largely prevented "rules creep".  That's where you find a faster part or process, get it approved, then I have to buy it to keep up, and at the end of the day, we've all spent more $$$ with no real gain.

Worst thing: the on-track aggression shown by many drivers including frontrunners. One recent race at VIR had ONE green flag lap.  If the carnage can be brought under control, SE46 will remain a Great class to build and race in!

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/19/22 11:41 a.m.
mdshaw said:

The only thing I don't like about the BMW spec series is the amount of great future street cars that get removed from circulation. Whether in crashes or just being converted to race cars. 
Like the e30. There would be lots more available today.  

People make the same complaint about Spec Miata but the numbers just don't bear it out.  They made hundreds of thousands if not a million of these things, and I'd be surprised if there are more than a thousand or two spec race cars.

slefain
slefain UltimaDork
12/19/22 12:30 p.m.

Huh, I wonder if my clean but high mileage stick shift E46 just went up in value.

jgrewe
jgrewe Dork
12/19/22 3:27 p.m.

In reply to slefain :

If it is a 330i, maybe. I've been looking for one as a future race car and there are a bunch of 325's out there but they don't fit the rules and a lot of things would need to be swapped from a 330 donor.

I did manage to score a ZF 5 speed out of an E39 530 at LKQ last weekend though so that opens up the market for me. Ideal would be to find a 330 auto with transmission problems.

200mph
200mph Reader
12/20/22 5:56 p.m.

In reply to jgrewe :

That should be an ideal donor.  (1) It will probably be cheaper than a 5 speed car. (2) There is almost no chance of its engine having been money-shifted or otherwise over-revved.

Nockenwelle
Nockenwelle New Reader
12/21/22 11:49 p.m.

I'm thinking one of these could definitely have a home with me. The appeal is undeniable and it makes every kind of sense for racecar things. I love my E30 and I'll probably run it in time-attack for the next 30 years, but I do want something a bit faster and more suited to rough handling by competitors. It would be great to find someone with a SpecE46 I could con into a test drive in Texas...

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/22/22 4:31 a.m.
mdshaw said:

The only thing I don't like about the BMW spec series is the amount of great future street cars that get removed from circulation. Whether in crashes or just being converted to race cars. 
Like the e30. There would be lots more available today.  

I go back and forth on this.

When I decided to build my 190E 2.3-16 racecar, I passed over quite a few low-mileage creampuffs that we're too nice to "ruin." This was back when the price difference between a excellent example and a rough one wasn't so big. Finally found a California car with straight bodywork and solid mechanicals but sun-damaged interior that was beyond repair. I felt better about gutting and caging a rare and desirable car in that condition. So, I totally understand that perspective.

Then again, I look at what's happened to cars like the E30 M3. Yes, guys like us "ruined" a ton of them by turning them into race cars. But I'm happier when I see an M3 out of track rather than sitting in a bubble in someone's collection never to be driven again. Even if we lost a bunch to on-track incidents, at least they were used and enjoyed for a while. Now that they're "investments" (instead of "cars") we're never going to see any of them on the road anymore anyway ... so, what's the difference really?

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 HalfDork
12/22/22 7:40 a.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
mdshaw said:

The only thing I don't like about the BMW spec series is the amount of great future street cars that get removed from circulation. Whether in crashes or just being converted to race cars. 
Like the e30. There would be lots more available today.  

People make the same complaint about Spec Miata but the numbers just don't bear it out.  They made hundreds of thousands if not a million of these things, and I'd be surprised if there are more than a thousand or two spec race cars.

They made 500k e46 BMWs EACH YEAR. 

E30s are not getting rare because of a spec series, they are getting harder to find because they are sooooo old at this point that more of them become scrapped each year.

You'll need to log in to post.

Our Preferred Partners
yNq8d2wVXeWA562kvyUxdoZ6fwwIXJ2Go0CMjUH1qpwOUzaYYq5aAWpaerjQG6CJ