Knowledge Meets Passion In A BMW E46 M3

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.

Alexander Turnbull
Instagram: alexanderturnbull_

Additional Photos by Dylan Ackimenko
Instagram: dylanackimenko

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Fake lms


It's a automatic or fronting it has paddle shifters for a stick. either way....... stupid


It's a "flappy paddle gearbox", BMW's (in)famous SMGII. Basically a hydro-pneumatically operated 6-speed manual. One of the first commercially available paddle shifters in the world.
It has an automatic setting, which is horrible, so most - myself included - drive it in manual mode.


You've read the text where it says (although a bit hidden) that he performed the automatic to manual swap on his car before he did on his friends car?


I liked this car but putting a BBS center cap on fake lm's (no BBS engraving)...Disapprove


bb5= not show level


Isn't it Imola Red?


it is


ah yes, the requisite whining about fake wheels. this is SH alright :D


"Doesn't matter what wheels you got. As long as they look good." Hert from Hoonigans.

You guys are complaining about him driving an M3 with replicas. Not everyone can afford real ones, he bought the car which is expensive and he did what he wanted to it. Forget the wheels, forget the car, forget the person owning it. He did it with passion and that's what counts. I don't even know him.


No1 care if u use fake parts that hurt industry, but dont try and show it online and expect love


I thought this M3 was so sexy until I saw the “BBS” wheels. That’s what ruined it for me


I think your car has a problem it's automatic for my taste


Hello guys, as many of you will know, we always endeavour to not showcase fake/replica wheels in the stories we publish, but it can be difficult at times and sometimes they do slip through. It seems like this is one of those times, and we apologise for that.


Why would you apologize for a picture of the dude's wheels? Who gives a crap other than some BMW snobs? Maybe I need to re-read the text, but I don't see where they were mis-represented anywhere by the author of the article. It's a d@mn nice M3 and I'd love to drive it. I guarantee everyone else posting in here would to.


Salute to M3 owner and Definitely too SH


Nice car, i will always prefer the fake bbs, buying rims for such a high price as the originals is just stupid. And the quality of most of the replicas isn't bad.


This is a truly clean BMW. I like it despite the BBS centercaps.

Greetings from Germany!


Oh the drama......cant't we all just accelerate, shift gears and enjoy our own PERSONAL tastes without stressing over another mans wheel choice? SMH


We all have different tastes in cars styling some people like the originals over replicas some people like replicas over originals


Most every design is a rip-off of another, I thought, and besides-- it wasn't like i was going to buy real LMs anyway.

Then one of them cracked at the weld under hard acceleration around an on-ramp, when I hit a piece of uneven pavement. Never again...

So many of us go down the "reps path" at one point or another. Hopefully it's a quick phase for this gentleman, as I'm sure he knows craftsmanship when he sees it. Here he has turned an ailing car into something TRULY beautiful. Restoring a vehicle made in the 90s or 2000s is no small feat, given how exacting the work must be.

Regardless of rolling stock, if we had WIP shots of this guy earning himself a GOOD seat in the afterlife by making one of the best cars on the planet into something even better, weld-by-weld and night-by-night, every one of these comments would be respectful.


This car deserves some PROPER LMs and not a knock offs :(


Be good to see some more shots of the seats... looks like an interesting retrim in the centres.


That's a standard option seat, I don't know if it was an option in the US but certainly was here in the UK and Europe.


Interesting. Never seen anything other than full leather on E46 M3 seats


looks fire