BMW E46 M3 vs. E39 M5: Which Would You Buy?

Sibling rivalry. BMW M model owners know it well, because dating back to the mid 1980s, go-fast Bimmer buyers had a tough performance choice on their hands – the M5 or the M3. And over the many subsequent generations, that decision hasn't become any easier.

But we're not here to further the performance war between the M3 and the M5 (okay, we sort of are), we're here to find out what makes each special. We found two lower-mileage and remarkably clean BMWs, a 2002 E46 and a 2000 E39 (links below), and want to know, if it were your money, which would you buy?

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If we had to crown an early favorite, the E46 M3 certainly wouldn't be a bad call to make. With a dizzying 8,000 rpm rev-limit and heady 333 horsepower from its 3.2-liter straight-six, it's easy to understand why many M3s have gone on to live a life on-track after a few years spent shuttling to and from the office. And despite being quite a few years on, the E46's interior remains a fine place to sit.

This one-owner E46 M3, up for grabs on eBay, pushes all the right buttons. Dressed in silver, the M3 appears to be all original, largely unmolested, and totes BMW's fantastic six-speed manual with 73,000 miles in the bank. While a CSL model continues to elude us, this wolf in sheep's clothing certainly gets it done.

RELATED: Check out more photos of the 2002 BMW M3

The E39 M5 is quite possibly the most universally liked of the 5-Series M cars, and as such can do many things worthy of said overwhelming praise. The E39 debuted in 1998 and upped the ante from its predecessor with two more cylinders and a lot more horsepower. The lauded 4.9-liter V8 pushed out nearly 400 ponies exclusively through a manual gearbox and logged in zero to 60 sprints in under five seconds, enough to put most contemporary sports coupes on the back foot.

This E39, up for sale on eBay, looks every bit the keeeper with a lowly 29,000 miles on the clock. While we'd spec it in black, this M5's burgundy paint says all the right things for a 15-year-old car, as does its immaculately clean tan interior. Whether it's a track day or your kid's track meet, you can bet the M5 will get you there.

There you have it Internet, which punchy Bimmer comes out on top?

RELATED: Check out more photos of the 2000 BMW M5


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