The BMW E30 M3—the most successful touring car ever.
The festive season is a time to reflect and enjoy the company of loved ones. So what better time, then, to reflect on one of BMW’s finest motoring achievements. There wouldn’t be too many motoring enthusiasts that don’t go weak at the knees when they see an E30 M3 on the road today. It’s all about respect—from its classic 1980s styling, to its racing heritage and, of course, to its place in the history books as one of BMW’s best ever road cars.
The opening paragraph makes a bold claim, but it is one made by many and the little M3’s honour roll makes for impressive reading. Four consecutive wins in the Nürburgring 24 hour race (1990–92), four wins in six years at the Spa 24 hour race (1987, 1988, 1990, 1992) are impressive enough. But add those to a list of series wins, including the inaugural World Touring Car Championship (1987), two British Touring Car crowns (1988, 1991), two European Touring Car Championships (1987, 1988), two German DTM titles (1987, 1989) and even an Australian Touring Car Championship for ‘Gentleman’ Jim Richards (1987) to name just a few, and what you have is a serious race car, with some genuine pedigree.
Of course, this pedigree translated very well to the road-going version as well. The original M3 had a 2.3 litre four cylinder and kicked off with 143kW, before various updates took the power well beyond 160kW. It loved to rev and was described by Classic & Sports Car as recently as 2002 as having a “beautifully balanced chassis, razor sharp steering, and sweet singin’ twin-cam four”.
Bona fide E30 M3s are a rare sight in Australia, but included below are some images of one I saw at Wakefield Park earlier this year, complete with US licence plates and all! If you know anything more about the history of this car I’d love to hear it.
In addition to those pics, and the clip above from BMW-web.tv, I have also included links to related reading and a selection of pages from a US-spec M3 brochure.
Brochure pics from USautoparts.net