In the sporty car world, having a convertible top typically implies a compromise of some sort. Whether it’s added weight, a looser chassis, or the leaks from rainy weather and automated car washes, there is a price to pay for having fun in the sun. Taylor Griffith has decided compromise isn’t acceptable with his 2001 M3 convertible.
Not long after getting out of college, Taylor was working for the local Audi dealership to put some cash in his pocket while looking for a fulltime gig. One of the perks to being at the dealership is that he got to see the different trade-ins people would use towards purchasing a new car. Most of these cars are sent to auction if they’re not on par with the latest and the greatest, so when a one owner black on grey 2001 BMW e46 M3 6-speed with a bit over 80k on the clock was traded in, Taylor felt it was time to get a proper daily driver.
The car was bone stock and simply maintained once Taylor took delivery. A valve adjustment was done to keep the 8,000 RPM screamer S54 in check, otherwise he just drove the car as is for a while. As time will tell, the mod bug bit. With his 95’ 540i finally in a solid state, it was time to start making tweaks to the “daily.”
One of the first things was ditching the stock 18 inch wheels in favor of the factory option 19 inch Style 67 set up. They have more sheen to them and fill out the wheel wells much better. Wheels alone weren’t going to cut it, so Taylor threw in a set of Suspension Techniques street coilovers to lower the ride height and firm up the ride from the old factory shocks, but not too much as to keep the car’s manners around town intact. A pair of Turner Motorsport sway bars were added as well to help keep the suspension planted on the morning commute.
Once the car was riding nice, the urge for a little more grunt from the already potent 3.2 inline six meant it was time to uncork the exhaust. This is where the Billy Boat race muffler & CPI rasp eliminator were added. One of the immediate benefits is the substantially lighter weight over the heavy factory exhaust. The real reason for these parts is because of the glorious sounds they produce. From the stern cold morning idle, to the race car growl as the car is pushed towards redline, let’s just say you’ll know when Taylor and his drop top cab are coming to a theater near you.
The last bit that makes for the racecar inspired daily driver is the shift linkage. Those in the know of BMW’s will tell you that you can take shift levers from other BMWs to create cost effective short shifter setups. One day while perusing on Craigslist, Taylor came across an interesting piece of kit: an AKG Quick Shifter. This effectively removes all the stock shift linkage with rubber isolator bushings in favor of a 6 inch shift lever and plate bolted directly to the transmission tunnel. The throws between gears are super short. The best part of the AKG shifter is the ‘snick-snick’ sound it makes reminiscent of a gated Ferrari shifter. It never gets old.
So how does the package all tie together? Well it’s certainly not a car you’re likely to be able to buy used or find in a dealer showroom, but it makes for a very nice daily driver that remains docile when you ask it, and completely bananas when you instigate it. Since the car is a modern chassis, the woes of squeaky soft tops with leaks are virtually nonexistent. The M3 has plenty of power to bomb down the freeways and carve the twisties of the San Francisco Peninsula, all to the soundtrack of a DTM racer. However, once the weather gets nice, drop the top and enjoy the California l-i-v-i-n. Perhaps you truly can have your cake and eat it too. I’ll have a slice of chocolate please.
2001 BMW M3 e46 Convertible SPECS
- Billy Boat Race Exhaust with CPI Rasp Eliminator Pipe
- AFE Intake
- Active Autowerks Tune
- AKG Quick Shifter with Rogue Engineering Transmission Mounts
- Suspension Techniques Coilovers
- Turner Motorsport Sway Bars
- Z4M RTABs w/Limiter Shims
- OEM BMW Front Strut Brace
- EBC Slotted Rotors & Pads w/ Stainless Brake Lines
- Staggered Style 67 Wheels, 19×8 Front & 19×9.5 Rear
- Carbon Rear Diffuser
- Clear Corner Indicators