BMW M3 GTR Straßenversion

THE BMW M3 GTR STRASSENVERSION.

The unicorn among the BMW M3 E46 models.

The BMW M3 GTR Strassenversion.The unicorn among the BMW M3 E46 models.

Hot air shimmers over the asphalt. After the Bavarian fireball has passed the last bend before the start-finish line, we hear the unmistakeable roar of the V8 engine. Tension in the pit lane. Then, finally, certainty: at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 2001, the BMW M3 GTR, helmed by JJ Lehto and Jörg Müller, finishes on the podium in its first race. The team embrace. They all know: This is the start of a new era in American motorsport. From now on, this vehicle owns the racetracks of the American Le Mans Series. Victories in this series were the highest accolade for the for the US market. But the way there was hard and the effort required enormous. The extraordinary story of the BMW M3 GTR.

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BMW M3 GTR "Street" and BMW M3 GTR race car

Racing machines at the turn of the millennium: The BMW M3 GTR "Street" and the BMW M3 GTR racing version derived from it.

THE WAY TO SUPERSPORT STATUS.

With the launch of the BMW M3 E46 in 2000, BMW M had already sent a strong signal to the sportscar market. Besides the deployment in European race series, the vehicle was also supposed to make an impression on US motorsport. An anything but easy task, as the competition in the GT class was strong and experienced. The engine development engineers at BMW motorsport were soon agreed that a more potent power unit than the straight six of the series version would have to be used. The solution was the development of a compact, especially light V8 engine.
 

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The BMW Motorsport team presenting the BMW M3 GTR
Engine compartment of the BMW M3 GTR

A RACING CAR WITHOUT A PERMIT.

For the 2001 season, the race-capable BMW M3, officially called the BMW M3 GTR, was ready to roll. The team’s trump card was the 4.0-litre V8 high-performance engine with 330 kW (460 hp). A full aluminium, naturally aspirated engine with 90-degree bank angle, four valves per cylinder, four overhead camshafts, chain drive and mechanical bucket tappets. With this special high-performance power unit under the bonnet, the vehicle was intended to compete in a series-based racing category. There was just one problem: The new engine wasn’t standard in any series version of the M3. Strictly speaking, the M3 GTR was a prototype and so didn’t fulfil the homologation regulations for the ALMS GT series. Thus, production and sales of a small series of street-legal M3 GTRs had to be undertaken.

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5 POWERFUL FACTS:

  • 01 Max. output: 258 kW (350 hp)
  • 02 Max. torque: 365 Nm at 5,000 rpm
  • 03 Displacement: 3,997 cm3
  • 04 Curb weight: 1,350 kg
  • 05 Vmax: 295 km/h
The engine of the BMW M3 GTR Strassenversion

The P60B40 was used exclusively in the BMW M3 GTR Strassenversion.

MOTORSPORT – SLIGHTLY RESTRICTED.

The most important benchmark for the configuration of the BMW M3 GTR Strassenversion was the use of the same V8 engine that was also in the racing version – the P60B40. The car thus also adopted its competition-proved dry sump lubrication. Reliable and in compliance with the rules, the power unit from the race car could be watered down a little for use in the series version. The result was still a more than potent drive unit, which did its work with 258 kW (350 hp) under the characteristic bonnet.

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Bonnet of the BMW M3 GTR Strassenversion

The difference in performance was necessary in particular with regard to noise and exhaust regulations. Side fact: This engine was never used for any other series model.

 

In contrast to the race version with sequential transmission, the M3 GTR “Street” had a 6-gear manual gearbox with a two-disc motorsport clutch and a variable limited slip differential. While the basic version of the M3 generation of the time was limited to 250 km/h (280 km/h were optionally possible), the GTR had a mighty 295 km/h at its disposal.

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Bonnet of the BMW M3 GTR Strassenversion
BMW M3 GTR "Street" and BMW M3 E46

Track tool meets production sports car: BMW M3 GTR "Street" and BMW M3 Coupé.

NOT AN OUNCE TOO MUCH.

Special features that identify the Strassenversion are longer front and rear skirts, along with the rear wing to optimize the aerodynamics. Like the roof, components which were made of carbon. The bottom line was an overall empty weight of just 1,350 kg. 185 kg less than the already light BMW M3 with manual transmission.
At the front, the M3 GTR Street had a tyre/rim combination in 225/40-19/8"x19", at the rear 255/35-19/9,5"x19".

 

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A WINNER’S PURISTIC INTERIOR.

The M3 GTR Strassenversion, which was only available in Titan silver metallic, had a sleek and slim, all-black interior: By excluding comfort features, the two-seater sports car stayed on the heels of the BMW M3 GTR. The message in the sales leaflet sounds plausible: “Those who want to win, have to be able to do without – the puristic interior of a winner”. That also meant: no air conditioning, no radio and most definitely no rear seats.

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BMW M3 GTR "Street" and BMW M3 Coupé
BMW M3 GTR "Street" and BMW M3 Coupé

THE UNICORN.

Of the BMW M3 E46 models.

At its presentation in 2001, the BMW M3 GTR Strassenversion sent a signal, in particular as regards price – and it wasn’t exactly a bargain: you had to shell out 250,000 Euro if you wanted to own this uncompromising driving machine. A lot of money for a BMW M3 – from today’s standpoint no bad investment. The sports coupé is as legendary as a unicorn and highly sought after by collectors. It’s more or less impossible to get hold of one. Which makes putting a realistic market price for a M3 GTR “Street” pretty well impossible. Moreover, it’s not entirely clear where the ten vehicles produced back then actually are and whether they were ever licensed for road use by their owners. What’s certain is that the BMW Group Classic preserves collector’s items like this one for future fans.
 

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LASTING FAME IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Although extremely rare and now a youngtimer, the M3 GTR Strassenversion is well-known to younger fans worldwide, because this rare M automobile can be seen and driven in racing games like Need for Speed and simulation games like Gran Turismo. And so the extraordinary M3 is still actively being driven today – if only on the screen.

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Inside BMW Group Classic - BMW M3 GTR E46

INSIDE BMW GROUP CLASSIC.

The BMW M3 GTR in the secret BMW garage.

BMW M3 GTR Straßenversion