M3 – every sports car fan knows this letter-number combination. It stands for dynamics, sportiness and driving pleasure, and is based on the BMW 3 Series. Today, sporty offshoots of production vehicles are no longer a rarity. Back in 1985, when the BMW M3 E30 was presented at the IAA in Frankfurt, it was a sensation – thanks to its racing pedigree.
THE M ESSENCE.
FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.
It wasn’t just the engine of the M3 that featured a special design, but the vehicle itself was also fundamentally overhauled. Above all, the designers turned the screw when it came to its weight. The front and rear bumpers, side skirts, boot lid and spoiler were all made of plastic. Only automotive aficionados noticed that the BMW M3’s C-pillar was flatter and wider than on the two-door 3 Series, improving its aerodynamics. All this contributed to the fact that the M3 quickly became motorsport enthusiasts’ favourite BMW. This unmistakable design’s most striking features included wider wheel arches with fenders and the iconic rear wing.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE BMW M3.
In its five years of construction, the car’s performance continued to rise. In 1988, for example, the Evolution version was launched on the market with 220 hp and a maximum speed of 243 km/h. Among other things, there was a revised spoiler. The final stage of the first M3 was ignited by BMW Motorsport GmbH in 1990: the displacement was increased to 2.5 litres, resulting in 238 hp in what is now the M3 Sport Evolution, the most powerful model in BMW’s E30 3 Series. The concept for this engine came from Paul Rosche, who was also responsible for the engine development in the Formula 1 racing team of BMW at that time. This special model’s outstanding features were its adjustable front aprons, the only two available paint finishes "Brilliant Red" and "Glossy Black", and the one-piece racing seats.
THE M3 RACED FROM VICTORY TO VICTORY.
Right from the start, the BMW M3 stood not just for pure driving pleasure on public roads, but also for motorsport success. The 1987 racing version of the M3 was created for the start of the inaugural World Touring Car Championship. Instead of 200 hp like the production car, it produced 300 hp at a sensational 8,200 revolutions per minute. Like the road vehicle, the racing version was also an outstanding success, becoming world champion in its first year and adding a European title soon after. On and on came the successes: the DTM (German Touring Car Championship) was clinched with aplomb, as were national championships in France, Italy and England.