What draws you into becoming an automotive enthusiast?
For Josh Stratton, the classic BMW tagline ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ sounded more like a challenge than a promise, and that was good enough to set him off on a journey of learning, collecting and enjoying fine BMWs.
Josh is the type of enthusiast that you would want to buy your next car from. Meticulous, passionate and knowledgeable, everything he has built over the last few years emanates a certain type of quality that some could only ever aspire to in their automotive endeavours.
I asked Josh where this passion stemmed from: “My love for cars started when I was young. As for more than a few of us, it starts in the garage with the old man, handing my dad tools in the carport while he fixed his Volvos. But my love for the BMW started in 2001 when my dad bought a ’97 M3 [E36 chassis]. Man, I loved that thing.”
Josh’s 2002 Imola Red E46 M3 is no different, but has humble beginnings.
Three years ago he stumbled across this car for a bargain price in relation to what other examples were selling for. With high mileage, a subframe in need of immediate reconditioning and reinforcement, and other maintenance items such as brakes needing replacement, most prospective buyers turned away from this car. But where others saw issues, Josh saw a challenge that he was more than capable of conquering.
When I asked Josh what the appeal of the E46 M3 was he very quickly responded with how to him it’s the last real M3. With a proper naturally aspirated straight six making over 100hp per litre, it’s an absolute blast to drive and delivers a perfect BMW M car experience.
As the years have gone on, Josh has gone over nearly every component of his M3. New suspension, wheels, interior, exhaust and paint are just a few of the more obvious changes, but his M3 has served as a test bed for plenty of the upgrades that Josh has performed on friends’ cars as well. Recently, Josh swapped the automatic transmission in a friend’s car with a manual, and in return he had his roof panel replaced with a carbon fibre weave.
His favorite thing to do with the car is drive the wheels off of it, and in three years Josh has put over 50,000 miles on his M3, making some pretty incredible memories along the way. He told me that “the summer right after I bought the M3, I took it on a road trip to see some family in Alberta, ripping through the Rocky Mountains, just me, the road in front of me. I’m really glad I didn’t get a speeding ticket on that trip!”
To me, Josh has found the proper formula for being an enthusiast: Knowledge, a passion for driving and enjoying his cars, and a mechanical aptitude.
Additional Photos by Dylan Ackimenko
How To join the IATS program: We have always welcomed readers to contact us with examples of their work and believe that the best Speedhunter is always the person closest to the culture itself, right there on the street or local parking lot. If you think you have what it takes and would like to share your work with us then you should apply to become part of the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program. Read how to get involved here.