E46 M3 Show Section:
On this page you’ll see the term “CSL Style” referenced quite a few times. For those unfamiliar with the M3 CSL, it was a special edition of the E46 M3 that was made to improve upon the already exquisite design. The CSL was lighter, faster, and had several unique styling touches that made the car look even more aggressive than it already did. Things like the single air inlet front bumper, carbon fiber roof, duckbill trunk lid, and its trademark wheels are all parts that are unique to the CSL M3. This is why you will so often see parts advertised as “CSL Style” because everyone wants their car to look more like the limited edition model.
For a “show” car, wheels are the single most important modification on your vehicle, followed very very closely by suspension. If you’re running around on stock wheels (or worse, cheap aftermarket wheels) you’ll either go completely unnoticed, or you’ll be met with looks of disgust. Get yourself some decent wheels and avoid all that awkwardness. Wheels can be divided into three tiers: cast, flow formed, and forged. We’ve picked out a few of our favorites that come in the correct sizes and offsets for the E46 M3, but ultimately you should pick a wheel that you like the design of.
Cast wheels are going to be your most affordable option when looking to improve your car’s fitment. The way cast wheels are made is basically molten metal is either poured or pumped into a press (gravity vs low pressure cast respectively). Low pressure casting is probably the most common these days but either way the result is similar, the wheel will be relatively heavy and not as strong as a flow formed or forged wheel. However, if you’re not going to be driving this car aggressively then that’s perfectly fine, the car can look great with cast wheels and as long as you’re happy with how they look.
The VMR V703 VB3 wheels are a CSL style design that gives you that OEM performance look from the CSL E46 M3 without the large price tag. Popular sizes for the M3 are a 19×8.5 ET40 front with a 19×9.5 ET22 or 19×10 ET25 in the rear. These sizes will fit very nicely in the wheel wells and look quite a bit more aggressive than either factory size. Also available in 18″ diameter (popular sizing being 18×8.5 ET35 front – 18×9.5 ET22 rear) if you’re looking for a little more comfortable ride and cheaper tires. Just be aware that this is an OEM+ look so if you want something that looks more aggressive (mainly in the front, rear is pretty flush) you should check out our other options/custom wheels. Available in both Hyper Silver and Gunmetal.
The AG M359 is great if you’re looking for more of a mesh design for your E46 M3. The split spokes give an almost CSL look to the M3 and with a 19×9 ET35 front and 19×10 ET25 rear they fill out the fenders very nicely. You may want a 5mm spacer in the front depending on your camber settings and what suspension you’re running. If you’re feeling ambitious there is also a 19×9 ET18 available but you’ll want to be running a decent amount of front camber for that one. If 18″s are more your style the we suggest an 18×8.5 ET35 front with an 18×9.5 ET22 rear (should sound pretty familiar).
The VMR V710 is a split 7 spoke design that looks great on a wide variety of European vehicles, the E46 M3 included. It is available in very similar sizes to the previously mentioned VMR VB3. Good 19″ fitment would be 19×8.5 ET35 front – 19×9.5 ET22 or 19×10 ET25 rear. The 18″ fitment would be 18×8.5 ET35 front – 18×9.5 ET22 rear. There are more sizes available of course but you will have to be careful if you want to try a lower offset in the front, most aggressive front fitments will require camber adjustment. If you like the look of this wheel but don’t want it cast there is also a Flow Formed V710 called the V710FF available (read more about flow formed wheels below) as long as you’re ok with matte graphite for the color. Suggested sizes are 19×8.5 ET35 front – 19×9.5 ET22 rear.
Flow formed wheels are your mid-tier of wheels. The manufacturing involves a combination of casting and cold rolling to achieve the final wheel shape. The face of the wheel, along with enough material to form the barrel, is low pressure cast. The raw wheel is then placed over a special mandrel and the material is slowly stretched out and rolled over the mandrel until it reaches the desired barrel width and shape. This rolling changes the molecular properties of the barrel metal to have stronger bonds along the circumference. The end result is a wheel that is both lighter and stronger than a cast wheel but is only slightly more expensive to produce (see our Track Wheel subsection for the benefits of reducing rotating mass).
The Sportline 8S is a flow formed wheel with a classic CSL Style split 8-spoke design. With these you get that sought after CSL look at a great price with a wide range of sizing. We recommend going with a 19×8.5 ET35 front with a 19×9.5 ET22 rear which will fit with factory alignment and look very sleek. If you want a similar fitment but in 18″ we suggest a 18×8.5 ET32 front with an 18×9.5 ET22 rear. More aggressive fitments can be had of course (something like a 19×9.5 ET22 front with a 19×10 ET20 rear) but they may require fender rolling, and they will definitely require front camber plates at the very least.
The Forgestar F14 is one of the most popular wheels we offer for a number of reasons. Their flow formed construction makes them strong and lightweight of course, and the design is very attractive. However, what makes them so popular is the freedom Forgestar gives you to make these wheels exactly how you want them, they are custom made to order. The downside of this is you have to wait 6-8 weeks for your order which is unfortunate, but the benefits are that you get the exact color, diameter, width, offsets, and concavity you want for your car. They come in 17″, 18″, and 19″ sizes so you get the entire range of options (also available in 20″/ 22″ but 19″ is about as big as you’d want to run on an E46 M3).
Momo recently released their new RF20 wheel for those who are looking for a more mesh design. This wheel is available in 18″ and 19″ sizes so you should not find your options lacking. Pick your ideal size, color, offset, and concavity so your E46 M3 looks exactly how you want it to.
Forged wheels are currently the best wheels you can get for the E46 M3 unless you’ve got way more money than sense. The method of manufacture is not particularly complex, rather the methods by which it is achieved requires the use of very expensive machinery and raw material, thus the added cost. Essentially each wheel start as a raw block of aluminum. This raw metal is then shaped into the shape of a wheel using extreme pressure. Once a wheel shape is apparent, CNC machines are used to shave off excess materials. In some cases the wheel will be milled out of the aluminum completely. In other cases the barrel is rolled out, much like with flow forming. Except in this case the rolling is occurring with an already solid billet aluminum piece, so the rolled barrel has even stronger molecular bonds and circumferential strength. Either way these wheels are going to be very strong and very light because of their mechanical properties.
The Volk TE37 is iconic. It is the aftermarket wheel, period. If you’ve seen more than a few modified cars in your life you’ve undoubtedly seen one with TE37s. They are present at every car show, every track day, even random car meets held in deserted parking lots. Don’t think this is just a fad, the TE37 has been around for over 20 years and in that time it has grown into one of the most widely used and admired wheels of all time. The keys to its success are its strength, lightness, simplicity, and affordability. It was one of the first wheels of racing quality that was realistically affordable for average enthusiasts. There’s also beauty in the simple six-spoke design which works well on almost every vehicle whether it be JDM, Euro, or USDM. We offer three TE37 variants: the Super Lap, Saga, and Ultra. Each has subtle variations to the design but retains the spirit of the original design.
18×9.5 ET22** front, 18×10.5 ET20 rear (aggressive)
18×8.5 ET35 front, 18×9.5 ET22 rear (OEM+)
18×9.5 ET20** front, 18×10.5 ET20 rear (aggressive)
18×8.5 ET36 front, 18×9.5 ET20 rear (OEM+)
19×9.5 ET36*** / 19×9.5 ET23** front, 19×10.5 ET23 rear (aggressive)
19×8.5 ET36 front, 19×9.5 ET23 rear (OEM+)
Note: Aggressive fitments will require camber plates (to achieve -2.5 to -3.5 degrees camber) and in some cases a bit of fender rolling for proper fitment.
If you want a simple install-and-go setup we suggest an OEM+ fitment.
**Camber plates required, -3 to -3.5 degrees of negative camber necessary for fitment (depending on tire choice)
***5mm spacers may also be necessary depending on your choice of suspension, along with -2 to -2.5 degrees of negative camber.
Fitment Pictured: 18×10 front w/ 245/35R18 and 18×11.5 rear w/265/35R18
BC Forged isn’t a wheel model, it is an entire wheel brand, but we can’t really pick out any one or two designs to showcase here because there are literally dozens of fantastic designs to choose from each with their own variants, colors, sizes, etc. for you to peruse. They are fully customizable so almost any design you see can be selected and customized to your exact specifications (with one or two exceptions that are limited to smaller sizing or specific bolt patterns). Of course you don’t need to specify down to the exact offset you want, our Mod Experts are always happy to help you determine the correct sizing to get the fitment you want so don’t be scared to give them a call or email. The best part? The prices are extremely reasonable. For example, a set of RZ05 Monoblock Wheels (pictured above) in an 18×9.5 front 18×10.5 rear would come out to $2950 shipped. With that price you get 19 colors to choose from in whatever offsets you damn well please. If you want 19″s instead it’s just $200 more, simple as that. Of course there is a drawback, these are fully custom forged wheels so there will be a wait time similar to Forgestar and Momo, but some things in life are worth waiting for.
Wheels…(page 2) – Current
- Engine Bay