2002 BMW M3 Long Term Road Test


2002 BMW M3: How old is that in dog years?

May 11, 2009

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Personally, I have never kept a car more than five years. I let go of cars for a variety of reasons -- got bored of them, blew up an engine (or two), I wanted to go faster or my tastes have changed. Buzzing around town this weekend in our "old" M3 got me thinking -- is there and automotive equivalent to dog years?

As it is, I get the feeling that our E46 would be in its early-40's in human years. It's got plenty of athleticism and enthusiasm left in it, but those crow's feet are starting to show. As noted in earlier posts, it's got some wear here and there, but it's holding up fairly well. As hard as I suspect this black beauty's been flogged, I think it's actually surviving exceptionally well.

Scratches and wear from daily use are showing on the ashtray lid (even though we don't smoke in our cars), as DiPietro posted, the weatherstripping is losing is adhesion, there are a couple of nicks in the upholstery and there's a wear spot where our thumbs rub against the handbrake well. Most obvious for me though, was the steering wheel -- it's now smooth and shiny from years of shuffling by sweaty-palmed pilots.

Unlike some cars though, the M3's buttons are still in excellent shape. I once had a Ford Mustang Cobra that had several black buttons that had worn to white plastic. Those worn bits were completely illegible after only two years on the most frequently used buttons (volume and track skip). I can't see even a hint of this type of wear on the Bimmer.

Given my judgment of its equivalent human age, the automotive aging comes in just under six years per human year. Of course, this equation relies heavily on what kind of car it is, how hard it was driven and where it was driven. In the case of our '02 M3, I could easily see it as the Keith Richards of the car world -- still rockin' hard well past its "sell by" date. What say you?

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Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 71,300 miles

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