Story by Jonathan Lawson at BimmerWorld

There are many reasons we love our BMWs. Performance and handling capabilities are obviously at the top of the list, but reliability is right up there, too. Many of us in the BimmerWorld office have driven hundreds of thousands of miles spread over multiple BMW models, but none of us can match our friend and customer Clemens von Claparède. His BimmerWorld-serviced 2000 E46 323Ci just came in to celebrate a huge milestone…500,000 miles!

Clemens is the president of L.H. Corp., which specializes in high-precision machined parts, so it’s no surprise he was drawn to BMW’s precision quality. What is surprising is the fact that he’s managed to put half a million miles on his beloved E46 323Ci in just 17 years. Purchased new in 1999 from Flow Motors in Winston-Salem, NC, Clemens got the car fully loaded, and that included the built-in phone BMW used to offer. Fancy!

The only modification performed over the last 17 years on this 500,000-mile BMW was when Clemens had the stock exhaust replaced with a free-flowing exhaust system for more sound. That’s understandable since the 323 isn’t known for its overly sporty sound from the factory.

How to put half of a million miles on your BMW

How has he managed to put half of a million miles on his BMW without a single major issue? Routine maintenance and Red Line synthetic oil! Thanks to the synthetic oil, Clemens has generally managed to put on 30,000 miles or more between oil changes (no, that’s not a typo for all you internet oil warriors), and the car has never burned more than a quart per 3,000-5,000 miles.

Note: That’s not to say we recommend such long intervals between oil changes… Fuel dilution and sludge are your engine’s enemies, but this car always drives more than short trips (obviously), so the oil has always been fully warmed up.

Maintenance and services have been performed by BimmerWorld for most of this BMW’s life, and aside from overhauling the VANOS unit when it began to rattle, fixing a cooling fan, and replacing multiple sets of brake pads and rotors and suspension components, we’ve never had to do any major work on the car. Even an incident between the mighty E46 323Ci and a brave groundhog resulted in nothing more than a couple of replaced control arms – and a groundhog that didn’t make out quite as well. In fact, with all the long-distance and interstate mileage the car has accumulated, one of the most amazing facts about Clemens’ car is that it’s still on the original clutch.

How to celebrate your 500,000-mile BMW

Reaching such a huge milestone on a daily commute wouldn’t be much of a celebration, so Clemens brought his car in with just enough room on the odometer where we were able to strap it down on our dyno and do it properly… With a nice drive on the rollers to officially tick over to 500,000 miles.


It’s not every day we get a 500,000-mile BMW in the shop, and it’s safe to say this is the first ever, so with this level of excitement over such a significant achievement, a normal dyno run would be a bit boring. We decided to make it a real party, and everyone knows you can’t have a birthday party or any big celebration without balloons.


All dressed up and somewhere to go, the might E46 323Ci is officially ready for its birthday party.


And there’s the moment of glory that was at risk of happening at street-legal speeds and possibly going unnoticed. Instead, we did it right… Letting it run up to 6,000 RPM and 105 MPH just so the car could celebrate, too. A birthday dyno run would be worthless without some numbers, and since we know the question will come up, the car with the million-mile potential put down a fuel-saving but reliable 142Hp and 149ft-lb at the wheels.

Caught on video

Of course, we had to catch the actual moment on video, and although it was too loud to hear the celebration going on in the background, we were all honored to be a part of this big moment. And we’re all in competition mode now to see who can be next to reach 500,000 miles, but at this rate, there’s a good chance Clemens will touch a million miles before that happens.