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If you’ve been into cars for the last 20 years or so, then you’re probably just as surprised that the three cars listed for this comparison can now be described as classic, or modern classic. It feels like just the other day that the BMW E46 M3 CSL was released and took the motoring world by storm. Even now, with just about twenty years more technology under the belt, many still regard the E46 CSL as the best sportscar to come out of the BMW stable, ever. That CSL moniker stands for ‘Coupe Sport Lightweight’ and this car was fitted with the normal BMW S54 inline-6 that was tweaked and tucked here and there to give it 268kW ( 360hp), and when combined with the SMG II transmission and some bespoke suspension it was a track-oriented car for the streets. The interior was sparse to save weight too, a pair of race seats up front with no rear seats, no comfort systems and no radio, but it was a very nice place to be. There were some great competitor cars at the time, but for this comparison another German and an Italian were invited out to play.

The second German in the mix for this comparison of modern classics comes from Porsche in the form of a 996 GT3 RS. This offering is often credited with being the one to elevate the RS model into one of the most sought after models from Porsche. This 911 996 GT3 RS was fitted with a normally aspirated flat 6 with 280kW (376hp) on tap with a brilliant 6-speed manual transmission sending power to the large rears. Inside it was the same as the CSL, track-oriented with race-spec goodies everywhere, including a rear roll cage to make sure people who saw you on the street knew what you got up to on weekends. These Porsches ended up on posters everywhere thanks to having the factory option of colour-matched wheels and livery. A white car with red liver and wheels on the outside and a red roll cage inside is always going to be remembered as special.

In this modern classic comparison, the Italian representative is just as special as the others, possibly even more so to fans of the prancing horse. Spec-wise it looks to be a bit of overkill because the Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale has a fair bit more power on tap thanks to a 3.6-litre V8 rated at 317kW (425hp), and mated to an F1 automated transmission with flappy paddle controls it really is like a track car for the streets. The interior is still obviously very race-inspired, although it’s a bit meatier than the other two. There’s also a pair of race seats in play, but they feature leather and carbon fibre and way more padding over the CSL and GT3. This rear-engined Italian does have the best soundtrack, but that’s what two extra cylinders will do to an exhaust note from a racecar for the streets.

These three cars are brilliant, and even by today’s standards, their performance is really good. Being built in limited numbers, and with their release being around twenty years ago so more than a few have been totalled, these cars are quite rare these days, many being hidden in private collections and only seeing the light of day during marque meetings or runs. It’s great to see this trio being driven as intended - modern classics always being the feels. 

Take a look at the YouTube video about the modern classic megatest below: Class of 2003 MEGA TEST | 996 GT3 RS vs 360 Challenge Stradale vs M3 CSL | Supercar Driver

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