Some of us have a car for every occasion. However, choosing just one car for every occasion isn’t easy.
Often, I am asked questions like what my favourite money-no-object car is, or what my ideal five-car garage would be. Asking me to choose a single car is probably like asking a parent to choose a favourite amongst their children. But then if I must make a choice, it would be a car that is relatively affordable, fun to drive, reasonably fast, have oodles of character and yet be practical enough to use in Mumbai city.
Most enthusiasts would say there is no such one car or would choose a super SUV like a G63 AMG or an everyday supercar like a 911. However, I’d say such a car should be a modern classic, and hence I’d choose the BMW E46 M3 coupe; with a manual gearbox.
Argue if you must, but the E46 M3 ticks all the boxes for me with its sublime straight-six, naturally aspirated engine (my favourite kind) and a slick six-speed manual transmission. The car is no slouch even by modern sports car standards – and the exhaust sounds absolutely wonderful.
Then comes the lovely RWD chassis which is widely believed to be one of the best to come out of Bavaria, and is a hoot to drive even by today’s standards. Best of all, I think the BMW E46 M3 Coupe is one of the nicest looking cars ever.
Unlike some sportscars, the E46 M3 has a decent boot too and its compact dimensions which makes it easy to punt around town. It can even seat four if you have to and the not-so-low suspension doesn’t bottom-out too easily either. It also has a fair bit of modern safety kit and a host of comfort and convenience features found on contemporary cars today.
Why a coupé then and not a convertible? Not just because the coupé handles better, but looks better too and makes the car more practical.Is there anything I do not like about it? Not really, I really like the fairly spartan but sporty interiors and analogue dials.
The best part about the E46 M3 though, is that you can take it to a supercar meet even today and it wouldn’t feel out of place. You could also turn up at a track day and set a fast lap time, or be the star at a Youngtimers meet.
The E46 M3 is already beginning to appreciate in value year-on-year, internationally, something not many cars from the millennium can boast of. Yes, a 993 generation Porsche 911 would make a great choice too but it wouldn’t be as practical to live with and a sports SUV wouldn’t be as much fun to drive. An E30 M3 is nearly impossible to get, way too expensive and exotic to buy, maintain or use daily and also lacks some modern-car practical features that we’re habituated to.
To sum it up, the E46 M3 may not be as fast as a current M3 or the most exotic modern classic you can buy, but its character and timeless design really make it the only car I’d ever need (only if I really have to choose just one).