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Review | 14.10.2013 - 19:24

The BMW E30 M3: A myth vehicle of the 80’s

One of the myth vehicles of the 80s, the E30 M3 was the first Motorsport Department model to achieve worldwide popularity along with success.
John Zuberek's E30 M3 on Autostrada Monzas
John Zuberek's E30 M3 on Autostrada Monzas

As stated by Jean Alesi, legendary ex-F1 driver the 1986 BMW E30 M3 is among the most fascinating best handling road cars he has ever driven, that provide astounding balance due to its 48/52-weight distribution, extrasensory in selecting the proper line, with a framework which is alive and provides the vehicle a character, that is lost from the majority of todays bland and ordinary vehicles.




E3O M3 was initially conceived as an idea at the year of 1981. Work commenced and five years later, on September 1986, one of the most legendary race cars both for track and road use was created. The model had a definite immediate success regardless of its hefty price, very costly for the standards of that time. Following the opening triumph of the first model, seven special versions of the E30 M3 had been manufactured in all.


The Evolution 2 was offered in 1988 and had a power output of 220 HP and a top speed of 152 mph. There were differences when considering the standard M3 and the Evolution 2 which consisted of a greater compression ratio, several less heavy body-parts, a deeper front spoiler and larger wheels. The Evolution 2 model was available in Misano Red, Macao Blue or Nogaro Silver. There have been just 501 assembled between March and May 1988.


Evolution 3 model was available in 1990 as Sport Evolution. It came in red or black only and had grey or black cloth-leather Recaro bucket seats. The motor was this time delivering 238 horsepower. The front and back spoilers had from that point onwards adjustable splitters. BMW in addition installed the optional 16 inch cross spoke wheels as standard. Furthermore standard were for the Evo 3 a suede steering wheel, a suede gear-knob, a suede handbrake grip and a three way adjustable suspension system.


The rest of the four were created more closely on regular production models, but had unique aesthetic features. These models ended up being known as Tour de Corse, Europa Meister 88, Johnny Cecotto and Roberto Ravaglia.


The primary impetus for the E30 M3s development was Group A racing, a production-based class that required that every race car share its essential mechanical components with a road car, of which at the very least 5,000 instances needed to be manufactured. Therefore, BMW Motorsport developed the race car first, then tailored it and implemented the appropriate modifications to the road car with a purpose to homologate the competition car. The E30 M3 street version and E30 M3 competition version are thus very related. As an example, the widened fenders were definitely necessary to support racing rubber on the competition cars however just weren't essential for the more modest tires of the street version. Nevertheless, fender width needed to be the exact same amongst the road and race versions, therefore both share identical flared arches.




The E30 M3 ended up being distinct in several ways from the remainder E30 line-up. It had been loaded with "box flared" fenders to support a wider track, alongside wider and taller wheels and tires up to 10" wide racing rims. In addition it had thrice the caster angle of any other E30 3 Series model. The first M3 shared larger wheel bearings and front brake calipers with the E28 5 Series. An additional extra-feature had been a marginally larger rear window to enhance aerodynamics.


Suspension System


The suspension of the M3 was appropriately advanced over a regular E30 utilizing up-rated springs, new gas-pressurised dual Boge dampers and thicker anti-roll bars for front and back.One remarkable option which was provided for Evo 3 was Boges adjustable Electronic Damper Control (EDC) which offered three options for the shocks (Sport, Normal and Comfort).




The E30 M3s brakes were utilizing an exclusively designed Bosch ABS system that worked along with the brake discs (ventilated at front side, solid at the rear).




Beginning with an off-the-floor 3 Series coupe, BMW provided its M-division absolutely free control to create a winner. After trying out numerous different engine combinations, BMW Motorsport department concluded on the M10 block as the starting point for its S14 power-plant. The original M3s engine head build was basically a sawed-off 140 cui variant of their 3.5-liter inline six unit from the M5/M6 line. A forged crank, an improved oil flow and stout internals filled the short block.


Additional features included siamesed pistons, a cast alloy sump, a supplementary oil cooler lurking behind the spoiler as well as a long stroke camshaft. Bosch Motronic injection system fed the four-valve head and the engine finally cranked out a decent 192 bhp at 6750 rpm. It was linked to a close-ratio, five-speed dogleg gearbox connected furtherly to a limited-slip diff. The following evolution models continued with 2.3 liters but implemented modified cam timing, higher compression ratios, in addition to lack of a catalyst generating nearly 215 hp. Eventually the Sport Evolution model increased the engine displacement to 152 cui and delivered 238 hp (175 kW).


It must however be considered that the M3 was not a low-priced car in its own right. Top speed and run to 60 mph were not spectacular, nevertheless the M3s authentic ability laid with its ultimate balance and elegant handling granted a real-world driving experience that was second to none.




Distinction between cheaper E30s and M3 at the interior involved adjustable Recaro seats cut as standard, with hound-stooth check cloth centres, simple gray bolsters as well as PVC backs. Additionally a three-spoke leather-rimmed Motorsport steering wheel fronted the standard E30 instrument binnacle although there were new VDO instruments with red needles.


There were additionally a 160mph speedo and 8000rpm tach,separated by a Motorsport logo, which could also be seen on the gear knob. Also individually contoured back seats, tinted electric windows and electric door mirrors were standard, air conditioning,, electrically controlled sunroof and full leather trim were cost options. Other available upgrades included an on-board computer and heated front seats. These are options that are astounding even for some of todays new cars.


Manufacturing of the first BMW M3 (E30 coupe) was concluded in 1991. The E30 M3 had been an outstanding succesful racer, winning the DTM, European Touring Car Championship plus the one-off world title in 1987. The first M3 also is a multiple winner of Macau Grand Prix, 24 Hours Nrburgring and Spa 24 Hours races. In 2004, Sports Car International named this car number six on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1980s.


One of the myth vehicles of the 80s, the E30 M3 was the first Motorsport Department model to achieve worldwide popularity along with success. With ideal weight balance along with super-sharp steering it's regarded as amongst the most satisfying to drive production cars ever and there is no surprise concerning its massive racing success. 20 years after the model appeared its appeal is definitely undiminished, as verified by the numerous fan clubs. 

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