With 300bhp in race trim, and close to 200bhp for the road-going homologation version, the BMW E30 M3 arrived just in time for the 1980s yuppie generation to idolise and aspire to. But the E30 M3 was far more than a status symbol for city boys. It was re-engineered by M Division from nose to tail, with unique body panels, lightweight and uprated suspension parts, a race-ready gearbox and limited slip diff, plus a normally-aspirated 2.3-litre engine that begged to be red-lined. Subsequent ‘Evo’ versions were more lary still, and the legend of this race-homologated road car has never faded.
Development work for the M3 began as far back as 1981, but production did not start until five years later in September 1986. The model proved to be an instant commercial success despite its hefty price, nearly 18,000 M3’s of varying types were eventually produced between September 1986 and July 1991 when the last Cabriolet rolled off the production line. Just as important is the fact that the M3 massively enhanced BMW’s already impressive racing fame with unprecedented success in European and World Championship touring car racing that continued right up until its retirement in 1991. The E30 M3 was a successful racer, winning the DTM, European Touring Car Championship and even the one-off world title in 1987. The first M3 is also a multiple winner of Macau Grand Prix, 24 Hours Nürburgring 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.