A brief history of the BMW M3
We've just driven the new BMW M3. A perfect time to look back on M Division's classic moniker...
Posted: 09 May 2014
BMW M3 Coupe: E30
Once Kuenheim had requested a high performance 3-Series from the chaps at M, work began immediately, using a four-cylinder block that dates all the way back to 1962, and a modified cylinder head from the M1 supercar (minus two cylinders, of course). After those trials at the ‘Ring, some more testing, and the introduction of the S14 engine, the production E30 M3 was displayed for the first time at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show, and let loose for public consumption in 1986.
Those flared arches. That rear wing. The new chassis setup with better axle kinematics, damping and braking performance. A svelte 1200kg bodyweight. A 2.3-litre four-pot engine producing 200bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. Rear-wheel-drive. Suffice to say, BMW had stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park, so we won't repeat the eulogies.
But, in race trim, that engine was good for 300bhp, and M3s tore the 1987 WTCC a new one, with Roberto Ravaglia and hisBMW-backed Schnitzer team taking the top spot. The M3 went on to win the German touring car championship, and took national titles in France, England and Italy. It also won at the Nürburgring in 1989. And then 1990. And 1991. And 1992.
Two road-going special editions were released: the ‘Evo', with a 220bhp engine, and the ‘Sport Evo', with a 238bhp 2.5-litre four-pot and a two-tier rear wing.
They only needed to make 5,000 to go racing. By the end of 1991, BMW had sold 17,970 M3s.