The BMW M3 und M4 convertibles


A look at the generations of BMW M3 and M4 Convertibles.

Open for performance.A look at the generations of BMW M3 and M4 Convertibles.

Since 1988, the BMW M3 and M4 Convertibles have been the fresh-air fanatics among the high-performance vehicles from BMW. Time for a look at the family tree of the successful series of BMW M drop-tops.

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  • 1988 BMW M3 Convertible E30
  • 1994 BMW M3 Convertible E36
  • 2001 BMW M3 Convertible E46
  • 2008 BMW M3 Convertible E93
  • 2014 BMW M4 Convertible F83
BMW M3 Convertible E30
BMW M3 Convertible E30


The first drop-top-M3 ever.

If there’s one BMW M Convertible that represents all open BMW M models, it‘s the M3 from the E30 series. This was the first M car in the company’s history fitted with a folding roof as standard.
The M3 Convertible embodies the symbiosis of high-performance and luxury fresh-air fun like no other model from the 1980s. The M3 Convertible was perfect for the open road and the racetrack. Characteristics that are still true for all BMW M vehicles today.

From the outside it’s an attractive convertible, but under the bonnet there’s the 2.3-litre high-performance engine. The cylinder head, for example, is related to that of the M88 engine from the legendary BMW M1. The water-cooled 4-cylinder inline engine with the compact construction with 16-valve aluminium head, two overhead camshafts and a crankshaft supported by five bearings had 195 hp at its market launch and achieved a top speed of 228 km/h. In the summer of 1989, another 20 hp were added and the top speed rose to 239 km/h. For the time and compared to the competition, fantastic figures for a four-seater convertible.
Only 786 of the open BMW M3s were manufactured, making the Convertible one of the rarest E30 models ever and a sought-after classic.


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  • 01 First convertible in the history of M
  • 02 Only 786 units built
  • 03 Convertible with world championship DNA
  • 04 0-100 km/h 7.5 seconds
  • 05 Max. output: 195-215 hp
BMW M3 Convertible E36
BMW M3 Cabrio E36


Fast and safe.

New styling, more safety and a major power boost: the iconic BMW M3 Convertible from the E36 series was characterized by numerous innovations. Like the invisible rollover bar behind the rear-seat headrests, which appeared in an instant if the car threatened to flip over. The completely new inline six-cylinder engine with 3-litre capacity and 286 hp was one of the most modern anywhere in the launch year of 1994. And just one year later, M GmbH went one better: The more powerful 3.2-litre version with 321 hp took the high-performance convertible to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds.
From the start, the BMW M3 E36 was optically more restrained. Those unfamiliar with the details of the top model of the E36 series may not see the vehemence hidden under the sleek bodywork. The giveaways are the aerodynamically elaborate M wing mirrors which reduce drag measurably, new skirts front and back and special 17-inch wheels. BMW M also lowered the suspension of the high-performance 3-series by a good 3 cm. This new proximity to the asphalt not only brought benefits for the cars’ centre of gravity and driving behaviour, the makeover gave the M3 a squatter, fuller stance on the road than its more civil siblings.

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  • 01 Max. output: 286 to 321 hp
  • 02 Inline six-cylinder engine with 3.0 litre displacement
  • 03 Variable camshaft control
  • 04 0-100 km/h 5.7 seconds
  • 05 Rollover bar behind headrests
BMW M3 Convertible E46
BMW M3 Cabrio E46


High-revving to the Millenium.

Even sleeker, even more dynamic and with a high-revving M engine, the BMW M3 E46 was a hit right from its launch in 2001. More than 30,000 units were produced in Regensburg until 2006 with textile hood and numerous innovations.
The high-performance convertible was especially convincing with the engine’s new high-rev concept. The power output also rose again. With the same displacement, the M engineers now managed to coax 343 hp from the throaty inline six-cylinder. And with a top speed of up to 280 km/h, the convertible became the fastest open M3 to date. A variable limited-slip differential and high-powered brakes that had once again been strengthened made the sports car even more agile in bends – both on the racetrack and on the road.
The BMW M3 E46 was immediately seen as the top model of its series. In particular, the optical alterations like wider wings, special side sills and new front skirt unmistakeably defined the M3 as a high-performance vehicle. Fun fact: The striking chrome gills in the wings were not conceived as design elements, but that’s what they became. Originally designed to be air outlets for cooling the engine, during testing it transpired that air outlets weren’t necessary. The gills stayed – and became an optical highlight admired not only by BMW M fans.


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  • 01 Max. output: 343 hp
  • 02 High-rev inline six-cylinder engine
  • 03 280 km/h top speed
  • 04 0-100 km/h 5.5 seconds
  • 05 Engine output per litre: 77.6 kw
BMW M3 Convertible E93
BMW M3 E93 Cabrio


8-cylinder and hardtop.

Like its predecessors, the BMW M3 E93 set new standards in technology and driving dynamics at its launch in 2008. And one innovation in particular was to make headlines: The E93 was the first mass-produced M3 Convertible with an eight-cylinder engine.
For the drive unit of the fourth generation of convertibles, the engineers at M GmbH transferred the high-rev concept to a V8 engine. Beside the high power output of 420 hp, what impressed more than anything was the new engine’s linear performance characteristic. On top of that was the unmistakeable and with the top down clearly audible sound of the 8-cylinder engine. With a 4-litre capacity and maximum torque of 400 Newton metres, it looked very strong on paper. What was especially impressive were the peak revs: 8,300 rpm, which heralded every gear-shift with a rousing racing car soundscape. Together with the double-clutch transmission M DKG, available for the first time, the BMW M3 Convertible sprinted from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds.
One further premiere with the E93 was the electro-hydraulic metal folding roof. The new roof construction added year-round suitability to the high-performance car’s racetrack affinity.


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  • 01 Max. output: 420 hp
  • 02 High-rev 8-cylinder engine
  • 03 7-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic
  • 04 0-100 km/h 5.1 seconds
  • 05 Three-part metal folding roof
BMW M4 Convertible F83
BMW M4 Convertible F83


New name, more performance.

E became F, M3 Convertible became M4 Convertible and there were quite a few other changes with the model switch in 2014. New name, less weight and a return to the inline six-cylinder characterized the successor to the legendary M3 V8 Convertibles. Like its predecessor, the new BMW M4 Convertible (F83) was also fitted with a three-part metal folding roof.
But under the bonnet the performance of the inline six-cylinder engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology rose to 431 hp. The weight reduction in comparison to the M3 Convertible (E93) and the better engine performance accelerated the manual M4 in 4.6 seconds to 100 km/h from a standing start. With optional 7-speed M double-clutch transmission and the Active M Differential, the high-performance convertible even passed the hundred mark 0.2 seconds quicker.
In 2016, M GmbH upped the ante again in terms of dynamics and performance. For the first time, the M4 Convertible could be ordered in the Competition version, which had several changes to the drive unit and suspension: The engine of the Competition model was given a performance boost of 14 kW (19 hp) to 331 kW (450 hp), the Adaptive M suspension was fitted as standard and new mapping for the exhaust system meant a more emotional sound. Thus invigorated, the M4 managed the sprint to 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds. For maximum speed, the M Driver’s Package was available, with a top speed of 280 km/h. The hitherto last series of the BMW M4 Convertible thus offered ideal conditions for maximum performance on the racetrack and effortless everyday driving pleasure.


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  • 01 Max. output: 450 hp
  • 02 Inline six-cylinder with M TwinPower Turbo technology
  • 03 7-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic
  • 04 0-100 km/h 4.3 seconds
  • 05 280 km/h top speed
The BMW M3 and M4 Convertible generations