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Abandoned in London: 2004 BMW M3 CSL

One of the greatest discoveries in the BMW world happened recently when an exceedingly rare BMW M3 CSL appeared on a few different websites as a beaten up and booted modern classic with no apparent caretaker. As you can tell by the triangle-shaped weights on the gorgeous CSL-specific wheels, this M3 was found in a parking garage in the UK where it had supposedly been parked shortly after the owner brought it home from the dealer and forgotten. Find the full story here on The Drive.

In addition to the insult of parking boots being placed on those extremely sought-after wheels, the M3 had been beaten up while sitting stationary, with the rear bumper knocked off and the paint clouded by years’ worth of dirt. Apparently, the wealthy owner drove the E46 M3 home and parked it – with 37 miles on the clock – and never drove it again. This is what extreme wealth looks like folks, just so you know how to behave when you some day have billions in the bank.

The internet went wild with trying to figure out how and why one of the rarest and most desirable M3s made in the modern era ended up this way. And for a time, it wasn’t the only modern M car sitting in the dusty doldrums of a parking garage, as an orange BMW 1M at one time parked next to it, with equal layers of dust on top. It reminded many readers of middle eastern countries where oil wealth and out-of-luck ex-pats would abandon cars in the desert when the tax bill came due.

Fortunately, shortly after the story broke, it appeared someone had figured out a way to snag the M3 from its car park tomb as it was loaded onto a trailer and being towed behind a Range Rover. When and if this M3 CSL comes to auction, it will be a significant sale as these cars very rarely come up for grabs and I can’t imagine many are left with under 50 miles on the clock. While we all love a good rescue, seeing this car sitting like any other impound lot junker is pretty remarkable, too.


  1. Howie

    So they are going to sell a stolen car?

    Like 8
    • Steve-O

      There are avenues for the owners of the parking garage to go about obtaining title for the car due to the unpaid parking fees.

      Like 9
  2. Rustomodrob

    Very nice car, SMG…not so much. Still a very very rare care to find.

    Like 5
    • tompdx

      I had an SMG in a 330ci. It took some getting used to, but I thought it was pretty fun in the end. I preferred the 6-speed manual in my M5, but the SMG wasn’t so bad. It definitely has a bad reputation, though!

      Like 3
    • Bick Banter

      For some reason, all of the 1,383 2004 CSL’s (411 for the U.K.) had the SMG. There were a lot of little and very cool changes from the regular M3, which everyone can look up. But it only had 17 more horsepower, albeit with about 240 lbs less weight.

      According to a November 2022 article by Hagerty, even the limited production run did not fly off the shelves when new because it was very expensive (about 20,000 pounds more than a standard E46 M3) and the HP increase was so modest (and the regular M3 so good). The SMG probably did not help either (there is a huge price difference today between a 6-speed and SMG E46 M3). Dealers often heavily discounted them to sell them. Nor was it initially popular used. Prices dropped as low as 30,000 Pounds in the early ’10s for nice examples.

      Now, with our overheated markets for pretty much everything, they’re worth a fortune. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this fetch over 250k if not more given the mileage and high profile story. There are a lot of filthy rich car enthusiasts who’ll want to be part of this “legend.” See e.g. the recent “Black Ghost” madness.

      Like 2
  3. Moparman Moparman Member

    Latest development: The car was seen loaded onto a flatbed and being trailered away to an unknown destination. (According to The Drive 19 September 2023).

    Like 2
    • Bick Banter

      Undoubtedly to be cleaned up and prepared for auction at RM Sotheby’s. They’re wisely taking a chapter out of the recent Black Ghost Challenger saga. I bet it fetches a quarter million minimum.

      Like 1
  4. Maggy

    Maybe the dude is pushin daisies? If it was stolen the DMV would know right away and the police to remove the boots after the fines were paid.I’m sure whomever took possession of it checked into it.No real explanation for this one imo.

    Like 4
  5. Autoworker

    Reminds me of the story of an eccentric who bought a ’78 Corvette pace car, drove it home, and parked it in a shed. Someone had stolen the T tops, and through the years water poured into the shed’s bad roof. The car had 6 miles on it but was pure trash. If I recall correctly he had more cars like this on his property.

    Like 4
  6. Andrew Allen

    Once you find the booter it will be a very expensive proposition to have them removed typically they charge the removel fee plus a charge for everyday the boots were on the car good luck to the buyer.

    Like 1
  7. Rodney - GSM

    Abandoned cars and houses can be created for a variety of reasons. Bankruptcy, illness, divorce, death all of which have nothing to do with wealth.
    Life randomly happens to everyone. Some just dodge more bullets than others.
    Nice car…

    Like 13
  8. Jeff

    Would be cool if people (including the author of the article), would actually read the article. The car has WAY more than 34 miles, which was verified by multiple sources.

    Like 7

      I 100% agree on this. It seems to happen a lot that people do not take the time to actually read the article or the ad.

      Like 3
      • Ryan

        But I just read THIS article.

        Like 1
  9. Jaker76

    Wow, did the person writing this drivel even read the accompanying story about the history of the car or is this more couch potato make it up as they go bs….interesting car but obviously more miles than this piece of trash article says!!!! sad times as no one really researches anything before they write

    Like 1
  10. Bakyrdhero Bakyrdhero Member

    “Piece of trash article”
    What is wrong with some of you people? I read the article and the cars mileage is very much up for debate, and nobody really knows at this time. Lighten up

    Like 1
  11. Ike Onick

    Firing that baby up and trying to drive it out of the GARE-AHGE could be the TikTok of the year.

    Like 0

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