I have a love hate relationship with the e46 M3. I viewed it as a benchmark much like yourself. Around the start of the recession they dropped massively in price and a few fell into the wrong hands so I started seeing the odd chavved up examples of rougher ones that had been sold cheap(ish). It seems those folk have moved on now and it's a proper enthusiasts car now. There's nothing better than seeing a well looked after, original example like yours.
I came very close to buying one recently when i bought the Z, the pics of yours make me wish I had. In the end I wanted a soft top and I read too many negative owner reviews of the E46 M3 cab to go that route.
I still have an itch I'm going to have to scratch one day.