2003 BMW M3 E46 CSL
Oldtimer Australia is excited to offer for sale an Australian delivered, factory right hand drive BMW M3 E46 CSL.
Introduced in 2004, the M3 E46 CSL was a car deemed worthy to reintroduce BMW’s legendary CSL badge. The car was built in limited numbers and only 1,383 M3 E46 CSL’s were built, of which 27 were delivered new to Australia.
This a true modern classic in every sense of the word.
The original Warranty and Service Book confirms this car was delivered to its first owner on the 30th October 2003 by Bib Stillwell BMW in South Yarra, Victoria. The Service Book shows this car was regularly serviced, first by Bib Stillwell BMW, then from 2010 onwards by German Auto Haus in Richmond, Victoria until the current owner purchased the car in 2018. It is understood to be a three owner car.
When the current owner acquired the car in 2018 it joined an eclectic collection of classic and modern cars.
Today this BMW M3 E46 CSL presents and drives exceptionally well.
The ‘silver grey metallic’ paint has a nice shine and a deep gloss finish. When you walk around the car there are a few small stone chips and minor blemishes consistent with the age of the car. The carbon fibre external panels and trim on the car are a real feature and present well. The carbon fibre roof is susceptible to scratches but on this car it is in good condition. All of the external trim, including the lights, lenses, badges and trademark BMW grill are also in good condition
The original wheels are fitted to the car and they are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, 235/35 ZR 19 at the front and 265/30 ZR 19 at the rear. The tyres on the front are dated week 38 2018 and the tyres on the rear are dated week 50 2018. The wheels are generally in a good condition, though the left front and left rear have some very light kerb rash. The front windscreen was replaced in 2018. All the other glass appears to be original and in good condition.
Inside the cabin you first notice lots of alcantara, suede and carbon fibre. First impressions are good. The seats present well, showing some light wear. The dashboard and instruments are all in good condition, with no cracks. In general, the interior presents as you would expect in a car that is now nearly 20 years old and has been used as its makers intended. If you look closely there are some signs of wear but there are no tears or rips in the upholstery or significant wear to the carpets. The top of the steering wheel shows some signs of wear but generally it is still in a good condition. The driver’s side door handle shows signs of wear, most likely from being caught by the seat belt. This could easily be replaced. All the carbon fibre trim inside the car is in good condition. We only noticed one small chip on the edge of the centre console.
When you get behind the wheel the first thing you notice is that everything is exactly where you expect it to be. Not surprisingly for a BMW, the ergonomics are ‘spot on’. The seats are firm but still very comfortable and as you would expect in this type of car provide ample support.
This car is all about the drive!
When you turn the key the car starts at first crank and almost immediately settles into a smooth idle. At this stage there’s no real give away that there is 265 kw (355 hp) of power and 370 nm (272 lb.ft) of torque under the bonnet. Interestingly, maximum power is achieved at 7,900 rpm and maximum torque at 4,900 rom. Surprisingly, the engine is relatively quiet at idle and low revs.
One of the first things you notice are the lights on the tacho. There is a series of orange lights which indicates the engine speed (rpm) you can do based upon the current engine temperature. If the engine is cold these orange lights start at 4,500 rpm. As the engine warms up the lights go off one by one. The only remaining lights are the red lights indicating the red zone which starts at 8,000 rpm.
All BMW M3 E46 CSL’s were fitted with the SMG II transmission, a sequential manual gearbox. After starting the car you simply select first gear, then you press the accelerator to move the car forward. The up and downshifts are controlled by the paddles behind the steering wheel. The gearbox is smooth and there are no noises when you shift up or down.
This car belongs out on the open road, though to be fair it would be even more fun on roads with no speed limit or indeed on the race track!
After creeping through some heavy traffic we finally find some open road and very quickly get a sense what this car is really all about and what it is capable of doing. Within no time you’ll reach the speed limit and you probably won’t even realise it. The car is well engineered and perfectly capable of handling all the power the engine provides. The car feels very solid on the road and the steering is very smooth and precise. From a driver’s perspective we couldn’t fault the car. All too soon our test drive comes to an end. We would have loved to spend a lot more time with this car.
The subframe on the BMW M3 E46 CSL is a known weak point and is prone to cracks. Every car will at some stage have to undergo the process of repairing and strengthening the subframe. On this particular car this important repair was done in 2017 by German Auto Haus. At that time the odometer read 170,510 km. Other major repairs, also particularly relevant to the BMW M3 E46 CSL, that have been completed, include: the main bearings have been replaced, the hydraulic pump has been replaced, the diff and clutch have been overhauled.
Today the odometer reads 172,336 km.
The BMW M3 E46 CSL is regarded by many people as the best car BMW has ever built. It is a great looking car, but it is subtle like the original naturally aspirated Mercedes-Benz AMG C63. But make no mistake this car is a wolf in sheep’s clothing . . . it is an absolute beast!
- One of only 27 Australian delivered examples.
- Known BMW M3 E46 CSL issues have been addressed.
- Full books, including a fully stamped service book, welcome pack and two sets of keys with original key rings.
- A well-presented example that is ready for its next owner to use and enjoy.
- A collector grade ‘modern classic’.
On 7 March 1916 the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW) was established. The company was the result of a reorganisation of the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik, a company founded by Gustav Otto in Bavaria, Germany, in 1910. The company was one of the aircraft pioneers in the early 20th century. A year later, in 1917, a Bavarian aircraft engine manufacturer by the name of Rapp Motorwerke changed its name into Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH (BMW). That company transferred all its engine production assets to Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in 1922 and that company was then renamed to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW).
The company survived World War I and started focussing on the production of motorcycle engines, farm equipment, household items and railway brakes. In 1923 BMW produced its first motorcycle, the BMW R23.
In 1928 BMW purchased the Fahrzeug Fabrik Eisenach which built Austin Sevens under license. That’s when BMW officially became an automobile manufacturer. The first car BMW sold under its own name was the BMW 3/15 which was basically a rebadged Austin 7. Throughout the 1930’s BMW focussed more and more on producing their own cars and expanded its range into sports cars and larger luxury cars.
During World War II the BMW factories were heavily bombed and severely damaged. Motor vehicle production was curtailed and BMW concentrated on building aircraft engines during the War. As a result, after the War the company was prohibited from producing aircraft or motor vehicles. Miraculously the company survived by making pots, pans and bicycles. It began manufacturing motorcycles again in 1948 and cars in 1952.
Its first post war effort was the BMW 501 which was built in a new factory in Munich. The car was reasonably successful and it effectively relaunched BMW. At the time BMW was also building its fabulous little Isetta, but the company was doing it tough financially. In 1955 the BMW 507 made its debut at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York. The 507 was roadster powered by a 3.2 litre V8 engine and was meant to revive the companies sporting image. Instead, the high production cost led the company to the verge of bankruptcy. Only 252 examples were built before production ceased in 1959. As it turns out, it would take BMW nearly 30 years before it would produce another roadster. The company was in serious financial trouble in 1959 and only a large investment from a third party saved the company and prevented a takeover by Daimler-Benz.
It was the launch of the BMW ‘New Class’ cars in 1962 that proved to be a game changer for the company. In fact, the compact little cars probably saved BMW from financial ruin. By 1963 BMW’s fortunes had turned around and from then on, the company went from strength to strength.
In 1972, to support its racing activities, BMW created a new subsidiary – BMW Motorsport GmbH. The first project for the newly established company was to turn the BMW 3.0 into a ‘proper race car’. Enter the BMW 3.0 CSL – a legend was born. BMW soon realised there was a growing market for high performance sporting cars and started producing ‘M’ versions of most of their model range. The first official ‘M’ badged car built was the BMW M1, which was launched at the 1978 Paris Motor Show. The M1 was conceived to compete head on with Porsche on the race track, so it was a race car that had to be homologated, so a number of road cars were built. BMW’s first true road going ‘M’ car was the M535i introduced in 1979. From then on, BMW produced ‘M’ cars for most of their models with the exception of the Z1 and the 7 series.
The first generation M3 was introduced in 1985 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It quickly became one of the most iconic performance cars of the 1980’s. The E30 model remained in production through until 1991 when it was superseded by the E36 model which remained in production through until 1999. In 2000 BMW introduced the E46 model.
With the model year 2004, BMW introduced a limited edition of the E46 M3, the M3 CSL (Coupe Sport Leichtbau, meaning ‘Coupé Sport Lightweight’). In total 1,383 cars were produced of which 27 were delivered new to Australia. The CSL was only available in two colours: ‘Silver Grey Metallic’ and ‘Black Sapphire Metallic’.
To quote BMW “ . . . CSL: three letters that give every sports car fan goose bumps. The BMW M3 CSL is regarded as an icon and the crowning achievement of the third M3 series. What’s more, the M3 CSL still occupies the same unrivalled position amongst the various models in that series as it did when it was first launched. With it, BMW M took everything the top echelons of motorsport had to offer in 2003 and once again raised the sports car to a new level”.
- BMW M3 E46 CSL
- F1 Automated Manual
- 172,336 km