Melvyn's mean bully - BMW M3 E46Words and photos: Reinis Babrovskis
Let's be honest here - I don't do or understand BMWs and I most certainly remained a bit sceptical when I agreed to shoot Melvyn's BMW M3 - I just didn't think I will warm enough to the car to get the shots I want. Plus the weather in the morning was certainly the typical Northern Ireland with overcast sky followed by rain storms every 5 minutes which didn't help. But it all changed suddenly, sun came out and we went ahead with the shoot. Within 30 minutes Melvyn rolled into my driveway with it and I all I heard was the music that came from that mean straight six. The only way I can describe the noise is that there is a giant rhino stuck in the boot and asked to fart through a loudspeaker. I probably didn't even notice the car at first, I just listened to the unreal note from the exhaust.
The third of the 3 series M model (E46) rolled out from the factory in Germany on October 2000, and replaced the highly successful E36 model. Equipped with a 3.2 NA engine it had the highest specific output of any engine BMW ever made - giving the driver 343 horses to play with and all of them are pushed to the back of the vehicle. When the car doesn't go sideways it can actually get 0-60 times around the 5 second gap. But the car is not only known for the engine.
This is the interior that welcomes the driver into the exciting world of the BMW M3 E46. Stunning red leather fully automatic seats with more memory controls than my laptop.
The standard model E46 M3 came equipped with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, but optionally came with a SMG drivelogic transmission. In essence it was the same gearbox - 6-speed Getrag transmission; however, it was installed with an electrohydraulically actuated clutch (no clutch pedal). Shifting is done via the SMG gear knob or the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Melvyn's M3 is equipped with the latter one and BMW were not shy to demonstrate that it was a special gearbox by showcasing a beautiful logo beside the gear knob.
When the gears are changed once it has reached the redline of 8,000RPM you can hear a lovely explosion coming out from the Supersprint exhaust 4 backboxes.
Melvyn has opted for the 18" alloys dressed in Michellins for the winter. To pull it off the car has been nicely lowered on coilovers and spaced out with spacers to the perfection. When the spring arrives, the car goes back on a set of lovely 19"s again dressed in Michellins to have the perfect grip with this beast.
After spending a day with this I must admit I have changed my mind on the M3 - it is one helluva car. If I would need to answer what was my favourite part of the car I'd say the noise - the mean horses scream like mad while shaking the whole car. I spent 3 hours shooting the details and could have spent another 3 on them. I was lucky to get a beautiful sunset over the Atlantic working as a giant reflector and while adding a bit of fill flashes I tried to show off the beautiful body lines of this car.