30 Jahre of a legend, a myth an icon. The M3, M Division’s best selling and most attractive performance 2 door sedan has been produced in 5 series, countless limited editions and has conquered the hearts of driving enthusiasts all over the world. M3 drivers speak the secret lexicon of BMW’s enthusiasts which is incomprehensible to mere mortals: E30, E36, E46, E92 and F80. All of these names stand for different variations on the same car and each one of them stands for a great driver’s car indeed.
To celebrate the M3 30th birthday, we met up with the original 1986 press car that starred on a special issue of Quattroruote magazine.
The “BMW-that-shook-the-world” was a sensation right from the beginning, becoming an immediate success in the sports car market, despite its horrendously high price.
With the FIA revising the rules for all Groups in racing in 1980, there was a chance for BMW to make a comeback in Touring-car championships.
Not only BMW was able to develop the 1500 hp BT52 F1 car which won the World Championship with Nelson Piquet in 1983, but also it had the technical capabilities to build a series of cars able to dominate racing internationally.
With the 3.0 CSL being outdated and the 5 and 6 series proven to be heavy and not ideal for touring car championships, BMW turned its attention to the light and (then) compact 3 series.
Such model proved to be the ideal basis for the guys of M Division to develop a car that was light, nimble and with an unbeatable power-to-weight ratio.
First introduced with the 2.0 liter S14 engine, which was a derivative of the original “Neue-Klasse” 1.5 liter straight four of the 1960ies, the M3 was M Division next step after the unfortunate but remarkable M1 of the late 70ies.
With enlarged fenders to host bigger tires and revised suspension geometry, the M3 was one of the better performing cars on the market in 1986. Neutral when driven correctly and playful when a little too heavy on the throttle, the M3 proved to be the ultimate driver’s tool.
Produced in the Evo, Evo II, the Europameister and the Cecotto edition, the E30 became the object of a cult and an obsession for many.
With its untouched purity, the E30 M3 is still able to shake the world, 30 years after it made its first public appeareance.