Classic Honda NSX Vs BMW M3 CSL: Which Would You Buy For $50K?

If you’ve got around £35,000 to £40,000 ($45,600-$52,000) to spend on a used car, you’re spoiled for choice. There are countless models to pick from, including icons such the Honda NSX and the BMW M3.

We stumbled upon both in SilverstoneAuctions’ lot, here and here, for the Race Retro Classic Car Sale that takes place on February 23 and 24, in Coventry, UK. The aforementioned sum is their estimated selling price – but before choosing the one over the other, let’s see the details of these specific examples.

Produced in 2004, the M3 CSL was a more track-focused version of the E46 M3. This one has 68,000 miles (109,435 km) on the clock, sports a black finish and is one of only 1,383 produced. The 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six makrd 360 PS (355 hp / 265 kW) and 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) of torque and comes solely with a six-speed SMG automated manual transmission.

According to the auction house, the M3 is accompanied by a comprehensive service history, original book pack, sales brochure and a fresh MoT.

As for the classic NSX, it was manufactured in 1991, but no more details are offered. The first-generation Japanese sports car looks just about ready to hit the road, too, and features a red paint over a black interior.

Anyone interested in either of the two (or perhaps both?) should bear in mind that they’re right-hand drive.

We’d mostly be tempted stick to the NSX, if it’s in good overall condition, as maintenance can be a pain. Then again, it’s hard to say no to a hardcore M3… Which one would you take home?

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  • Eric

    NSX – no question. The BMW will break down, and eventually rust.

    • Mr. EP9

      Every car will break down and eventually rust.

    • Kimcheebowl

      While this is a blanket statement, by in large there is some truth. We all know how much more reliable a japanese car can be. However, I personally would feel more at ease with the comprehensive service history of the BMW over no history of the NSX. That being said, I’ll take both!!!

  • ErnieB

    NSX … hello!!

  • gibgibgib

    An auto NSX? I’ll have the BMW thanks

  • Six_Tymes

    two of my favorite cars of all time that ill never be able to own. both are lovely examples

  • Ken Lyns

    NSX despite its auto. The M3 with first-gen SMG will need $3000-4000 a year in repairs to keep running.

    • Matt

      $4000 a year? Every year? For what exactly?

      • Kimcheebowl

        To be clear the E46 SMG II transmission was both a gift and plague. Very fast, very problematic. The transmission itself usually holds up fine, it’s the hydraulic pump, the solenoids, and the relays that fail. Your mileage may vary but $3-4k a year is extreme.

        • Matt

          Yes the pump is a big issue and will need replacing if not done already. But you don’t need to replace it every year.

      • Ken Lyns

        SMG rebuild, VANOS issues, various leaks from the brittle plastics BMW uses in every engine…

  • Mr. EP9

    Can I have them both?

    • Kimcheebowl

      Ding ding ding right answer

    • Bash

      You have money only for one. What’s your pick?

      • Seats & a steering wheel

        If you buy the Beemer you’ll end up spending the NSX purchase price in repairs and maintenance.

        • Bash

          Glad you made the right choice man 👍🏻

  • Tumbi Mtika

    NSX if it’s manual.

  • NSX.

  • txsupra11

    NSX please!

  • Bash

    NSX of course!

  • Jbfromsiliconvalley

    Maintanence a pain on the NSX? Not really that much more difficult than an Accord. Its especially essier than keeping an SMG BMW driving.

    • Craig

      The CLUTCH is very expensive to replace on the NSX – but other than that – maintenance costs are not ridiculous.

  • Stram toni

    Are you kidding?

  • badcyclist

    Stay tuned for next week’s choices: Which Would You Rather Spend $50K on– a cherry 1977 Yugo or a classic ’57 Trabant?

    • Perry F. Bruns

      That’s a tough call. Even tougher: What would you do with the remaining $40,000?

  • Give me that NSX I beg!

  • Vinny

    NSX! But why does it have to be auto? 🙁

  • Craig

    The NSX. No question. Even with the automatic – which lowered the horsepower rating from 270 to 252, the redline from 8,000 to 7.500 and added power steering.

  • TyrantRex

    Without question the NSX. Maintenance costs FTW. With the exception of the clutch, everything is pretty cheap to have worked on. It is an Acura when all is said and done.

    • TheHake

      Nope, a Honda.

      • TyrantRex

        Same thing.

        • TheHake


  • Shahul Usman

    how is this a discussion???.. NSX all day.. aryton senna an f1 lineage , the nsx is a legend.. the CSL is cool..honestly if it was an E30 M3 would at least make me pause and think about it

  • Bo Hanan

    Great cars with lousy transmissions? Either would be better with a manual. I would take the NSX only because BMW’s SMG is crap.

  • nastinupe

    I’ve driven both, and owned the E46 M. The NSX is overrated. It just looks cool.

    • CarlK

      The final design of the NSX was tuned by Ayrton Senna. Don’t think it just looks cool.

      • nastinupe

        The steering/ handling was too heavy and the shifter was too long. I also owned the S2000, it had a perfect shifter, much better than the NSX. Also the S2000 had a more impressive engine. It was more rev happy. The NSX was also torqueless, but didn’t have the pop of the S2000. Every time I drove the NSX I never felt like it was on the same level as a Ferrari or a Porsche 911. Not with speed, not with handling, nothing. Perhaps in 1991 it was, but by the early 2000’s when I was able to finally drive it, it felt underwhelming compared to what was out in the early 2000’s.

        In fact, if I had to compare it to a car, performance wise, it would be a 2001 Porsche Boxster S. And after I looked them up, they had identical 0 – 60 times of 5.9 seconds.

        • CarlK

          Not sure what you’re talking about. The NSX was tuned to Ayrton Senna’s satisfaction and you are not happy with the handling? I also remember Car and Driver did a review when NSX first came out and said it’s the best sports car ever and yes I’ve driven all the Porsche’s and Ferrari’s too. If you have driven a pre-90′ Porsche or Ferrari you’d know why. Those cars were very difficult and unpleasant to drive although die hard fans would call those “character”. Give me a break!

          The S2000 certainly killed the original Boxter too although Porsche kept improving while Honda stopped working on both S2000 and NSX. It’s a shame but it’s just not worth of the effort business-wise because people just wouldn’t pay the price regardless of how good they are simply because they are just Honda. Looking at some responses here you can clearly see that. Nothing’s wrong with that but no one should confuse brand image to quality of the product.

  • Matt

    The NSX is auto.

    • Wandering_Spirit

      The BMW is not a real stick either. Check how the SMG “manual” transmission works. I can’t attach the YouTube link but you can look for ”how to use the SMG transmission”

      • Matt

        I know how SMG works, but I was just correcting you as you said ‘I’d go for the NSX only for the stick’.

        • Wandering_Spirit

          Forgive me Matt. My bad explanation. I meant, “i would go for the NSX only if it had a stick”. Typed quick while doing else.

  • CarlK

    Without question the NSX. It’s a game changing car that has taught everyone how to make a driveable sports car. Just look at pre and post NSX Porsche and Ferrari you’ll know what I’m saying.

  • john1168

    The NSX for me.

  • Mr. EP9


  • TB

    Yikes! Tough call on this one…but I think I’m for the NSX.

  • Maximilian Norlande Rabbitt

    So did no one else think of a certain YouTuber when looking at these cars?

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