The BMW M3 E30 wasn’t really planned. It came into being thanks to a particular Group A motorsport regulation that meant that in order to homologate its M3 racing model for touring car championship events, BMW M also had to build 5,000 units of a road-legal version. During the initial development of the first M3 touring car, successful performances were the baseline that M engineers had hoped to achieve. But they did even better than that, with successful performances turning into championship wins in its very first season in competition.
That came in 1987, when Belgian driver Erik van de Poele won the overall DTM title in the M3, while it also helped propel German Winfried Vogt to European Touring Car Championship title glory. The crowning achievement that year was the inaugural World Touring Car Championship title by captured by Italian Roberto Ravaglia behind the wheel of an M3. The M3 dominated that series from start to finish, and a motorsport legend was born. As a result, the 5,000 planned road-legal versions were quickly sold and BMW M, realising it had a hit on its hands, quickly moved to cater to demand. This included the creation of rare special edition models such as the BMW M3 Evolution, the BMW M3 Cecotto, the BMW M3 European Champion signed by Ravaglia and, of course, the BMW M3 Convertible.