Thinking 'M3 CSL' I mad?

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Active Member
Jun 13, 2009
2001 CLK430
Hello chaps (and any chapettes!). I've always liked the BMW M3 (e46 shape - 2000 to 2006. I once accompanied some mates to the Nurburgring in Germany. We took a standard M3, an M3 CS and an M3 CSL. I simply fell in love with the CSL, mostly for the amazing noise it makes. It's a level above a normal M3; more comparable with a low-end 911.

However, the CS takes has of the positives of the CSL (suede wheel, short steering rack, some exhaust components, 'track mode') but you still have 'normal' seats (the racing ones would get tiresome day to day I suspect), a proper hi-fi rather than the frankly awful 'BMW Business' radio in the CSL, and so on.

I have a good friend selling a very high mileage CS (he wants 8k; it's done 150k), and he won't come down to my £7-7.5k valuation.

More and more however, I'm thinking even at that price I'd be taking a big risk of sudden and BIG bills in future, and losing lots to depreciation.
I'm beginning to think a fairly low mileage CSL (maybe £25-27k for a sub-50k-miler) makes sense. They're only getting rarer, with people crashing them or dedicating them to collections/racing. As a result, I expect the value to fall slower than the CS each year, if at all.

I've got the cash to buy a CSL because I've been saving for a first house deposit, but numerous factors are putting me off (instability in the economy, possibility of moving job/location); so the CSL makes potentially more sense from the point of view of "which would sell quicker if I needed a deposit in future?" (but less due to the obvious fact...25k is more than 7k!).

Am I mad or being perfectly logical?
I'd rather put my money in a first house....

Best thing I ever did was by my first property (for less that your CSL fund) and yet in two years and a lot of hard work I doubled and some my money.

While you may not lose 'much' having the CSL would you not rather get you job / location sorted first. You can buy a car at anytime. I sold my 'flash' car to buy my house when I moved out of hotel Mum and Dads. Best thing I did.

Your not Mad, I keep looking at all sorts of cars, but then 4 or 5 house moves on I'm also on right move at least once a week...

No harm in looking
I love the M3 CSL, one of the best cars i have driven :D
Not really a everyday car but deffo a top weekend car with the odd Trackday thrown in
^ this is the longest house I have been in 5 years now !!!

normally 2 years then move....


I enjoy my cars also and used to change them every year, Times change and It nice to have a nice car on the drive but my home is more important.
Interesting no one's said the CS makes any sense...
^ you didn't ask that...

Just buy a much lower miles normal M3 and fit CSL alloys...

(but get settled with job / location) and buy a house / flat / etc...
I can't really sit here and recommend you save for your house because I bought a 3 year old 1997 M3 Evolution instead of using the money for a deposit... :bannana:

However, I did sell it in the end and was able to save enough to buy my first property in 2002 - but things were different then and 95% mortgages weren't an issue.

I understand your economic outlook but you should consider buying in a weak market, and buying well (i.e. good property at the best price) so come the housing boom, you will be quids in.

However, we're nearly all petrolheads on here and the CSL is the daddy when it comes to the E46. 363BHP and sublime handing is what it is all about. The CSL is the Q car of all E46s.

But, if you are only looking at a CSL purely to avoid losing a lot of money - any car of this nature can suffer big bills (and the CSL will be SMGII and these can be expensive when they fail) and I would rather buy a known M3. A Coupe Sport M3 will be preferable to a standard one, but will not handle or go quite as well as the Coupe Sport Lightweight - but is the extra really worth it - IMO not unless your heart desires the CSL...

Also, whilst you probably would be able to sell the CSL for reasonable money subject to condition and mileage without losing much cash, you're right in that you wont have the deposit if you need it and you can't rely on selling it quickly... particularly when insurance prices are high, fuel is not cheap and the economy is not fantastic.

Your friend's CS will almost certainly lose the least money (look at the price of older M3 Evolutions!), but again subject to condition and mileage when you come to sell.

When you are talking about an £8k car, £500 is bugger all - offer a figure of £7750 (split the difference with him!). The most you can lose there in depreciation is the buying price - but an M3 will always have value even if the gearbox blew up or engine died. This will mean you still have a significant deposit which you can be building back up whilst you enjoy the M3.

I suppose my advice would be - if your heart really wants a CSL, I would do it. As Georgie boy once said " may never get another chance..."

If you aren't that bothered and just want an M3, go for your friend's one.

If you really want your own property more - you already answered your dilemma...
The problem is that that the CSL is very much a niche market, and these can be unexpectedly volatile - while they've enjoyed a high resale for some time, it only takes a minor hiccup to send the prices crashing. Combine this with the other facet that they often take a while to sell, and you run the risk of being stuck with a car that isn't shifting and is losing money overnight.

2 years ago, RS4 biturbos were £15k upwards. Now you can get them for half that.
That's more because it's 2 years down the line rather than economic doom & gloom.
Buying a house makes more sense but this is a car forum so.......

I have been considering a CSL too but ultimatley its the SMG that puts me off. The CS at least can be had as a manual and for that reason l would be considering one of those over a CSL. If resale is a motivating factor and l think along similar lines then two to consider are the B7RS4 and the Evo IX MR FQ-360. I am a big Evo fan, l sold my IX when we moved to Scotland, 3.5 years of flawless fun with some light mods. Bought for A$37k and sold for $34k. Thats cheap motoring from one of the best drivers cars regardless of cost.
Move fast - the CSL is listed in Autocar today as an appreciating classic...

Looking at how E30 M3s have appreciated in the last three years it's worth a punt but, IMHO, only if you will be in the car for a couple of years or more

Personally, for a non-depreciator, I'd buy a lovely E9, garage it and use it on high days & holidays. Or an E3 for four doors & four seats

Nick Froome
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I dont think your mad at all. The CSL is one heck of a car and could prove a great investment. But like Doodle said being a niche car when it comes to selling it it could take a while to shift which might mean you run the risk of losing the perfect house if it should pop up.

The CS makes alot of sense if your friend has maintained it well imo, because you can enjoy an M3 with less money tied up so if the right house pops up your able to move quickly an possibly still have an M3 to enjoy once youve bought the house.

There is always the option of playing with the CS's exhaust and intake to make it sound more like a CSL to :D :D
What a dilemma... CSL is a great car... Having your own house is too though...

I have been in this position myself; having always wanted a 911 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S... Instead of buying a car, I put the hard earned cash in to a flat in 2006. Yesterday I sold the flat making a profit of £19k...

I've just bought myself a SLC that needs restoring, hasn't cost me a lot but has the potential to be fun for the summer...

Where do you live now? I remember talking through the 'dilemma' with a couple of air hostesses (friends)... "It doesn't matter what car you have, as if you live at home with your parents, that's not cool"
That's more because it's 2 years down the line rather than economic doom & gloom.

Not that time in their life they're at the low end of the depreciation curve. Losing 50% in 2 years is what you'd normally expect of a new vehicle, especially when previously it was more like 10-15% over the same time period.
Well is a nice dilemma. House or a car.

Personally I don't want to buy a house this year, or the last, it just the housing market hasn't gone down that much compare to the economy.

And that is reflecting on classic car market, it's been rocketing for the past 2 years.
There is always the option of playing with the CS's exhaust and intake to make it sound more like a CSL to :D :D

This appeals but apparently 2nd hand prices are silly for the airbox and exhaust; whilst BMW won't sell you one without a CSL V5 :wallbash:

I sat in stop-start traffic for a while this morning in my comfortable CLK and was thinking to myself how annoying the crap hifi and racing seats on the CSL would would be a step back. Maybe the CS suits me more and I just need to fulfil the 'CSL dream' later in life, as a second car.

Not quite sure why everyone's so anti-SMG. Yes, it's not as smooth as an auto, and it can cost a pretty penny to fix; but stories of its apparent terrible unreliability are slightly OTT. I've friends who've used SMG for a number of years without incident. It's also hilarious fun for launch starts and offers safer control of the car when you're driving hard (particularly on a track).
However, I'd still probably prefer a manual (but that's more to do with my boredom with the auto CLK at the moment!).
Looking at how E30 M3s have appreciated in the last three years it's worth a punt but, IMHO, only if you will be in the car for a couple of years or more

Do you think they will go much higher, they look expensive compared to the 190 16V? Funny how some cars appreciate more than others.

The problem I have with appreciating value cars is that it involves using them not very much and polishing often.

High mileage Lotus Elise S1 are still £8-10k - at least that could still be used often. But doubt a CSL buyer would consider an Elise.
You can live in a CSL.

You can't thrash the living daylights out of a house.

I rest my case. :D

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