The Orlando BMW scene comes alive at night (pics) | E46 BMW M3 project

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the BMW M3 project car
Oct 21, 2021

Photography by David S. Wallens

Didn’t we use nearly the same title for an update on our Garage Rescue Miata?

Yes, yes we did.

But Ace Café’s schedule doesn’t just welcome Miatas on the last Monday of the month. The motorcycle-themed eatery also hosts BMWs the third Tuesday of the month. In fact, the schedule contains something different for every day of the month: JDM machines, Swedish cars, Subarus, Porsches, Corvettes, Fords, etc.

So we took our M3, making the hourlong drive into Orlando.

We spent the previous few evenings cleaning up our E46-chassis M3, basically following the same formula used on our Garage Rescue Miata and Porsche 911 projects.

This time, though, we topped the finish with something new, trying out Griot’s Garage’s new Ceramic Speed Shine. (Tip: Buffing it out with a dry microfiber towel really does make the paint pop.)

What’d we find once in Orlando? Lots of BMWs–including a legit, never-raced 1995 BMW M3 Lightweight. It was the real deal.

The rest of the field covered different food groups, including some drift machines. The big thing: People coming together over the love of cars. Yes, the moment was that sweet.

Check out the photos, and more M3 updates to come. We still need to tell you about our brake refresh. And we have some hardware from BimmerWorld to install.

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Comments
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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
10/20/21 9:37 a.m.

I always assumed the M3 Lightweight was one of those cars you'll only see in a museum, but it's cool that at least one is at least being partially driven.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 9:46 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

It was there. Just sitting there. No ropes, no "do not touch" sign. And the owner was happy to chat about it. 

That's what I like about these kinds of events: You never know what will show up, and if you're there, then you can take it in. 

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 HalfDork
10/20/21 10:58 a.m.
Colin Wood said:

I always assumed the M3 Lightweight was one of those cars you'll only see in a museum, but it's cool that at least one is at least being partially driven.

Paddocked next to one at a track event (believe it was Putnam) 4 or 5 years back. Young guy was beating the heck out of it and said it was a goal of his dad's so he carried the torch. Just amazing to watch such a rare car get modified and abused.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 11:35 a.m.

In reply to Olemiss540 :

That's an interesting topic: Is there a point where these rare, competition-ready cars should be retired from track duty and thus preserved? See also: Cobra R, Integra Type R, Viper ACR, Neon ACR and, before them, cars like the Shelby GT350, Yenko Stinger, etc., etc. 

hybridmomentspass
hybridmomentspass Reader
10/20/21 1:18 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to Olemiss540 :

That's an interesting topic: Is there a point where these rare, competition-ready cars should be retired from track duty and thus preserved? See also: Cobra R, Integra Type R, Viper ACR, Neon ACR and, before them, cars like the Shelby GT350, Yenko Stinger, etc., etc. 

That one is, and has always been, tough for me.

On one hand, I get sentimental about things and want things preserved. On the other...well, they were built to be DRIVEN.

I think of a friend of mine, a BMW guy actually. He's had a M coupe featured in BMW Performance mag and some other stuff with his 70s era 6 series (with ITBs etc). Anyway, here is with these rarer cars, but he just does what he wants. Nothing that radically changes them, but he mods more than I would feel comfortable with at times. But he loves it. Maybe Im too conservative with my cars.

Anyway, to your question - I dont know ha

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 1:21 p.m.

In reply to hybridmomentspass :

It is a tough question to ask, and I can look back at my own past. I modded an EG Civic Si, Rabbit GTI, CRXs and more. Today, you'd want those cars to be stock or nearly so. Where does the switchover occur in our own minds? Or is there even one? 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 1:26 p.m.

And sorta to tie this back to last night, I had several people stop to chat about the M3. I didn't hang around the car all evening, but as I didn't know anyone there, I did circle back to the car just to move around.

People seemed to dig that it's well preserved but modded just a touch. It's not cut up, it's not ratty. But the main mods--mainly the stance and suspension--give it some presence, too. I think one dude called it stock-plus. 

Is that the sweet spot for cars that are kinda rare--not nearly Lightweight rare but still a bit special? 

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 HalfDork
10/20/21 2:07 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

And sorta to tie this back to last night, I had several people stop to chat about the M3. I didn't hang around the car all evening, but as I didn't know anyone there, I did circle back to the car just to move around.

People seemed to dig that it's well preserved but modded just a touch. It's not cut up, it's not ratty. But the main mods--mainly the stance and suspension--give it some presence, too. I think one dude called it stock-plus. 

Is that the sweet spot for cars that are kinda rare--not nearly Lightweight rare but still a bit special? 

I think the beauty is in the execution! If it's well done I think modifications that enhance the ownership experience are a road worth traveling. Now, I have also torn many a modification off once I realized how much they negatively impacted the fun/reliability/comfort of my intended use case. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 3:03 p.m.

In reply to Olemiss540 :

A related question: Just how many of us have de-modded our own mods as a car has gotten older/rarer/more valuable? 

preach (fs)
preach (fs) GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/20/21 3:11 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to Olemiss540 :

That's an interesting topic: Is there a point where these rare, competition-ready cars should be retired from track duty and thus preserved? See also: Cobra R, Integra Type R, Viper ACR, Neon ACR and, before them, cars like the Shelby GT350, Yenko Stinger, etc., etc. 

I would absolutely LOVE to have a 718 GT4RS. 

I do not think I would change my driving habits from my current Cayman. Daily in the summer, across country trips, trips to the Dragon from NH, canyons in S. CA...

I am a firm believer in driving. My whole collection will be driven as intended.

I passed up a $16k e30 m3 and bought a Tacoma instead. I hate myself.

Junghole
Junghole SuperDork
10/20/21 3:42 p.m.

Wow this forum argues a lot. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 4:12 p.m.

In reply to preach (fs) :

I am sure that we have also passed up E30 M3s for the same money.

"$16,000 for an E30 BMW? Are you crazy!?"

See also: I once turned down a 356 for about the same money. 

I really, really need that time machine. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 4:14 p.m.
Junghole said:

Wow this forum argues a lot. 

We're just having some lively conversations. smiley

But as time goes on, cars that were once viewed as disposable become rare items. It's like we're watching history unfold. 

I remember when the M3 LTW came out. And I know that in our files you'll find photos of ones all bashed-up. That was normal. Now, a clean, stock one takes your breath away.

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress HalfDork
10/20/21 4:25 p.m.

I'm pretty firmly on the "drive 'em" side of the fence. 

Nearly all of the cars listed can be reconstructed almost from scratch using some mix of new, NOS, and enthusiast-created replica parts. Even Honda, that temple of pragmatism, is dabbling in a factory authorized restoration program for the NA1 NSX. I could easily see the same thing happening soon for the ITR.

And honestly, when I see a CRX with a bunch of late 90's F&F modifications it brings a smile to my face. That was someone's passion and it's a snapshot of the era.  

Gotta catch up on the GRM articles...that e46 M3 is suddenly relevant. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/21 4:32 p.m.

In reply to CrustyRedXpress :

Here's the TL;DR on the E46 M3: get one. smiley

Really, it's the total package: the right size, great performance, subtle looks but you know something's up. I was impressed to see our car get that much attention last night. It's not nearly in the same league as the LTW, but people did ask about it. Look for more updates soon. I admit, I'm a tad behind.

Good point about period mods. Yeah, a fully decked-out '90s import does capture a period in time. How soon until we see that on BaT and Mecum? Now offered: Honda CRX with Wings West Predator Kit, Jackson Racing supercharger, 17-inch chrome wheels, giant tach, fire extinguisher mounted to the A-pillar. 

You know you'd at least check it out. I totally would. 

 

QuikMcshifterson
QuikMcshifterson New Reader
10/20/21 6:48 p.m.

Pretty much never. They are better enjoyed in their natural habitat than in a museum. (my 2 cents)

 

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
11/23/21 2:34 p.m.

I, also, am on the "drive 'em" side of things. Having said that, I only make mods that can be easily reversed in the future should I or someone  who buys the car desire originality again.

P.S. I HATE museum/trailer queens

 

 

 

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