Motoring | Features

BMW E30 M3

Developed by BMW’s in-house motorsport division, the E30 M3 was, is, and always will be one heck of a great car, writes Nishant Mehta

  • By Nishant Mehta, wheels
  • Published: 14:07 August 2, 2012
  • Wheels

BMW E30 M3
  • Image Credit: Suppled picture
  • With a Paul Rosche tuned 2.3-litre motor, an agile chassis and top-of-the-line anti-lock brakes, the E30 M3 was, and still is, one of the greatest cars of all time.

You may be forgiven for thinking the foremost function of the BMW M division is to make you, me, and every petrolhead around the globe drool over that iconic badge. OK, that isn’t its main function, but it certainly has that affect.

There aren’t many factory tuners that have taken the performance of a regular production series model to the levels created by Munich’s M department.

Upgrading the E30 3 Series is a painstakingly difficult process, especially when you consider how good the regular cars already are.

But through massaged engines, sporttuned suspensions and other performance goodies — not to mention extensive cosmetic enhancements — the boffins continually manage to upgrade an A grade car to an A+.

And you have to be a real tough guy to drive a manual dog-leg gearbox homologation special such as an E30 M3 — one of the best M cars ever.

Its excellent track-honed handling and linear engine performance make it one of the most renowned cars in the M series.

Using the standard 3 Series platform as a basis, the M3 really got enthusiasts’ blood pumping. And it still does. To think it was built 26 years ago…

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The first M3 rolled off the production line in 1986. Five thousand were produced, strictly for racing homologation purposes. They all featured flared wheel arches, a tall rear wing, stiffened suspension and a Formula 1-derived 195 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

People really began to sit up and take note of the M3 when it competed in the World Touring Car Championship. It collected wins in its debut season, ahead of seasoned competitors such as Mercedes, Ford and Volvo. It won the European Touring Car Championship several times, and the DTM (German Touring Car Championship) twice.

Buying one back then would have made for a sound investment, as today, even with many thousands of kilometres on the clock, they can set you back at least Dh90,000.

Being the original in a long line of the greatest sports coupés ever made gives the E30 M3 the bragging rights over most machines.

It made all our fantasies come to life, and caused us to have some surreal dreams too. In short, it’s where all the M magic began…

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