Most car enthusiasts have heard of Spec Miata and even Spec E36. These are racing series’ featuring SCCA Spec cars and are a ton of fun. Now, the E46 BMW 3 Series seems to have come down in price enough for many enthusiasts to afford for racing. So Spec E46 is now a thing and it’s pretty damn cool. In this new video from The Smoking Tire, Matt Farah drives a Spec E46 BMW 330ci at the #GRIDLIFE Motorsports and Music Festival at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, MI.
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The first thing you notice about the car is that an E46 looks damn cool as a race car. The E46 is, in my personal opinion, is the best looking 3 Series of all time. As a Spec racer, it looks fantastic. What’s great about the E46 for Spec racing is that it’s so balanced and can be made so light, so it’s a superb package for track-day fun.
This specific car makes around 225 hp to the wheels, which is impressive in a track car that only weighs around 2,800. To make that power and be usable on track, this Spec E46 330ci has E36 headers, a spec Magnaflow exhaust system, Epic Motorsports tune, VAC Motrosports oil pan baffle, an oil pump shaft upgrade, JB Racing light weight flywheel and Sachs clutch. It’s also sitting on MCS single adjustable shocks with Hyperco springs, Turner swaybars, lower control arms, shocks mounts and chamber plates. So it’s light, low and angry, like a proper track car should be.
In this video, Farah gets to take this Spec E46 out on Gingerman for a few laps, with one lap alone, and it seems like a lot of fun. His first lap is alone, with no other cars on track, so it’s hard to really gauge how fast the car is. But when other cars get on track, he starts to overtake them pretty quickly. It’s surprising how fast a car with just 225 hp can be. Adding lightness is always the key, there.
It’s also really interesting to see how balanced it is. Many track cars lose that stock balance, thanks to roll cages, slammed and stiff suspension, big aero and big power upgrades. But this Spec E46 seems to have a really nice balance and allows Farah to play with it without it getting sketchy. It seems to oversteer on power but it’s progressive and neutral.
If you’re looking to get into some racing, Spec or otherwise, the E46 BMW 3 Series seems to be the way to go. Either Coupe or Sedan, the E46 is really affordable nowadays. Some examples can be had for under $5,000. Sure, they’ll have 150,000-plus miles and won’t be in the best of shape but, if you’re turning into a race car, who cares?