The BMW M3 is a high performance BMW M GmbH version of the popular BMW 3-Series compact automobile. M3 models have been derived from the E30, E36, E46 and E90/E92/E93 3-series. Common upgrades over the "standard" 3-Series automobiles include more powerful and responsive (yet at times smaller) engines, improved handling/suspension, more aggressive aerodynamics/body, and multiple interior/exterior accents with the "M"/Motorsport nomenclature.
|Production:||1986 - 1992|
|Body Style:||2-door coupe|
|Related:||BMW 3 Series|
|Engine:||2.3 L I4|
Based on the 1986 model year E30 3-Series, the first M3 was introduced with a 2.3 L I4 S14B23 engine (or S14 in shorthand). The engine design was based on various BMW genealogy; basic block layout from the M10 4 cylinder (found in the 2002 and 320 series) overbored and reinforced to similar specifications of the BMW M88 inline-6. The valve train and head architecture from BMWs M1 and later M6 inline-6 cylinder was adopted for aggressive breathing, resulting in outstanding performance for the day.
The most notable characteristic of the E30 M3 (relative to later M3 iterations) is its racing pedigree. It was campaigned by BMW as well as other racing teams including Prodrive and AC Schnitzer competing in many forms of racing including but not limited to Rally, DTM, Australian touring car and other series.
One of the main reasons for production of the road car was to homologate the M3 for Group A Touring Car racing. One of the reasons often cited for its creation was that it was to compete with the "2.3-16V"-model of the Mercedes-Benz W201 190E which was introduced in 1983, although this was only speculative. When the E30 M3 was in its final years of top level competition, the 2.5 liter S14 engine in full race trim was capable of 340hp plus, naturally aspirated.
The first road-going version produced 1950NaN0 (catalyzed model). Evolution models (not sold in North America) continued with 2.3 liters but adopted revised exhaust-cam timing, increased compression along with the lack of a catalyst producing approximately 215hp. Later the Sport Evolution model production run of 600 (sometimes referred as Evolution III) increased engine displacement to 2.5 L and produced 238 hp (175 kW). 786 cabriolets were also produced, all by hand in BMW's Garching plant; at the time the 215hp example was the world's fastest four-seat convertible.
The E30 M3 differed from the rest of the E30 line-up in many ways. The M3 was equipped with a revised stiffer and more aerodynamic body shell as well as "box flared" fenders to accommodate a wider track with wider and taller wheels and tires. The only body panels the standard model 3-series and the M3 shared were the hood and moonroof. It also had three times the caster angle of any other E30. The M3 shared larger wheel bearings and front brake calipers with the E28 5-Series. It also had a Getrag 265/5 5 speed gearbox, and rear differential with different final-drive ratio and 25% lockup.
To keep the car competitive in racing following homologation rules changes year to year, homologation specials were produced. Homologation rules roughly stated that the race version must reflect the street car aerodynamically and in engine displacement; therefore, improved models were periodically released for the public. Special editions and homologation specials include: the Evo 1, Evo 2 and Sport Evolution some of which featured less weight, improved aerodynamics, taller front fender arches (Sport Evolution; to further facilitate 18inches wheels in DTM), brake ducting, and more power. Other limited-production models (based on evolution models but featuring special paintwork and/or unique interior schemes commemorating championship wins) include the Europa, Ravaglia, Cecotto, and Europameister.
Production of the original E30 M3 ended in early 1992.
Having won more road races than any other model in history, the E30 M3 is considered by many to be the world's most successful road-race car. M3s entered by BMW and privateer racing outfits did dominate the competition for the years it was in production. Its wins include the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, European Touring Car Championship and even the one-off World Touring Car Championship title in 1987. The E30 M3 is also a multiple winner of Guia Race, 24 Hours Nürburgring and Spa 24 Hours.
In 2007 "Evo" Magazine rated the E30 M3 top of all the M series BMWs at time of print
In 2007 "Automobile Magazine included the E30 M3 in their "5 greatest drivers cars of all time" under the 25 Greatest Cars of All Time.
|Model||Power (kW)||Coupe and Sedan||Convertible|
|US model||1920NaN0 (US)||4,996|
|Europa late model||158||1,519|
(all signed by Roberto Ravaglia)
The E30 M3 was met with rave reviews during its introduction and production. Even today, it is well-regarded within the automotive press and fondly remembered as one of the most exciting BMWs ever produced.
|Production:||1992 - 1999|
|Body Style:||4-door sedan|
|Related:||BMW 3 Series|
|Engine:||3.0 L I6|
3.2 L I6 (1996)
The E36 M3 débuted in February, 1992 and hit the dealers`showrooms in November that year; it was the first M3 powered by a six-cylinder engine, displacing 2990 cc and developing . Initially available as a coupé only, BMW introduced M3 convertible/cabriolet and saloon/sedan versions in 1994. The E36 is also the first M3 to be manufactured in right-hand drive.
Also in 1994, BMW produced the limited-edition M3 GT as a racing homologation special; all GTs were British Racing Green and featured an upgraded 3.0 liter engine. 350 GTs were built.
In summer, 1995 M3 coupé and saloon were upgraded to a 3.2 liter inline-6; at the same time, the cars received clear indicator lenses, new wheels and a 6-speed gearbox. The Cabriolet did not receive these changes until spring 1996.
All E36 M3s were built in BMW`s Regensburg factory; in total, 46,525 coupés, 12,114 Cabriolets and 12,603 saloons were produced. Saloon production ended in December, 1997; the coupé ceased production in late 1998; and the Cabriolet in December, 1999.
The first E36 M3 to be imported to the United States was the 1995 model, which received a 3.0 L 24-valve DOHC inline-six engine with 2400NaN0 and (S50B30US), a different suspension and a 0- time in about 6 seconds. It was available with 5-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
A CSL (Lightweight) M3 was produced in limited numbers for the 1995 model year:
The 1996-1999 model years had displacement bumped up to 3.2 L, still with 2400NaN0, but torque increases to which is the same S52B32US engine used in the early M Roadster and M Coupe. The manual gearbox remains a 5-speed despite the European versions being upgraded to 6-speed. The 1996+ model is known for being more difficult to tune for performance, due to slightly smaller intake manifold runners and more complicated electronics (OBD-II). It was also available as a sedan starting in model year 1997, and as convertible in 1998. Production of the sedan was halted in 1998, while the other models continued until 1999.
US sales figures include a total of 18,961 coupes, 7,760 sedans and 6,211 convertibles.
|colspan=2||Version||Power||0-60 mph||Top Speed|
|rowspan=3||3.0 L-24v I6|
|U.S.||1790NaN0|| (electronically limited)|
|rowspan=3||3.2 L-24v I6|
There were six special-edition models of the E36 M3 produced: the M3 Euro-Spec (Canadian Edition), M3 CSL (M3 LTW), M3 GT, M3 GT-R, M3-R and the Imola Individual GT2 (the last of the E36s)
There was also an M3 Anniversary Edition only produced in 1999 for Australia. This was the final year of production for the mighty E36, with only 50 coupes and 70 convertibles being made. Furthermore, "BMW Individual" were able to custom design an M3 with specific coloured leather, woodgrain and other personalized options including polished magnesium alloy wheels from the Anniversary edition. Convertibles lacked the sports seats found in the coupe but retained every other feature.
In 1994 agreements existed between Canada and several countries in Europe which allowed any car authorized in one participating country to legally be sold in any of the others. Though BMW had unveiled the next generation E36 M3 in Europe in 1992, the company felt that the production version would need to be priced much higher for export to North America than the market would allow. While the engineers worked on a less expensive North American version of the E36 M3, BMW Canada seized the window of opportunity: 45 numbered European specification M3 coupes were specially produced and imported into Canada.
Even with a base price of $59,900 (a substantial sum for the day given that the standard equipment list did not include forged lightweight wheels, air conditioning, a sunroof or even metallic paint), all 45 cars were spoken for in just 3 days. Unlike the other special versions of the E36 M3, buyers were free to choose any colors and options they wanted on their cars. The cars all came equipped with the 2860NaN0 3.0 L inline 6 cylinder engine, vented brakes with floating rotors, glass headlights and other European standard equipment. They were initially delivered to Toronto, then shipped all across the country to the dealerships where they were ordered.
Canada would not see another E36 M3 for sale until two years later, when BMW finally made the American versions of the 1997 M3 available for sale. Forty five Euro-Spec Canadian Edition cars were built, each one having a numbered engraved plaque in both the glovebox and the custom leather case which holds the owners manuals. Only the Australian M3-R was built in lower numbers.
Beginning with the first E36 M3s delivered, BMW racers began pressuring BMW for a race-ready version with which to compete against Porsche 911s in sports-car racing.
In 1995, BMW relented and began building batches of the M3 CSL at BMW Individual. Upon completion they were sent to Prototype Technology Group (PTG) Racing in Virginia for final preparation, which included the front and rear Motorsport flag decals, and "trunk goodies." In the boot there was a different oil pan with dual pick up oil pump, longer oil dipstick tube, front strut bar, lower x brace that owners could install at the risk of voiding the standard BMW warranty. The car also came with the normal M3 low wing mounted but most dealers installed the special high wing when prepping the car for sale. A adjustable front lower lip/spoiler was installed. Each new owner was given a 1 page legal document to sign stating that any installation of trunk items voided the new car warranty. The ECU had the top speed limiter removed which resulted in a drag induced top speed. Forged 17" alloy wheels, 7-1/2" wide in the front and 8-1/2" wide in the rear, mounted with identically sized 235/40-17 tires front and rear were an additional difference from the standard 17" x 7-1/2" wide cast alloy wheels mounted with 235/40-17 tires on standard M3's. A 3.23 rear differential was installed vs the normal 3.15 installed in 1995 model year M3's.
There is a minor controversy in which some people believe the M3 CSL should not be called an M3 CSL (referring to the famous 3.0 CSL), but rather an M3 Lightweight, as that was the name that BMW advertised the car as.
While it is true that BMW's press referred to the car as the M3 Lightweight, each M3 CSL's build sheet (the instructions from BMW AG to BMW Individual) clearly labeled the car as an M3 CSL, so there can be no doubt that the factory itself thought of the car as a CSL. In addition, the additional manual that came with the car identified it as the CSL.
This controversy can perhaps be attributed to the fact that the English translation of CSL is Coupé Sports Lightweight.
Although BMW promised to build at least 85 examples, BMW never released the number of M3 CSL's built, and because of the peculiar assembly line, to this day may not be known. However, enthusiasts now believe that there exist approximately 120 models.
The first two cars, which were used as press cars, are not technically M3 CSL's as they were regular production M3's that PTG made similar in appearance to the not-yet-built CSL. After press duties, those two cars were brought back into the PTG stable.
In an ironic twist, the car that BMW built to race was hardly raced.
Outside of multiple cars raced in the BMW CCA Club Racing series (an amateur series specific only to BMW models) PTG had between two to four models that they raced in IMSA. It seems that one of those cars was sold to Jeff McMillian, in which he won the SCCA World Challenge series, without winning a single race. One was raced in the SCCA's Touring 1 class by John Browne, and one or two may have been raced in the extinct Motorola Cup.
The M3 GT Coupe was a limited-edition mainland Europe only edition of which 356 were made, 50 further M3 GT Individuals were made in right-hand drive for the UK market. All built in 1995.
Famous for being British Racing Green with a Mexico Green interior - a peculiar choice when the traditional German national racing colors were white with red numbers.
The BMW M3 GT was a homologation series special built to allow the E36 M3 to compete in the FIA-GT class II, IMSA GT and international longdistance races.
The M3 Evolution Imola Individual was a limited-edition (200 units for Europe with part VIN WBACB5103-AN307--, 50 for the United Kingdom) car sometimes referred to as the M3 GT2. The engine and performance characteristics of the car were unchanged from the 1996+ euro M3, and a special exterior and interior colour combination was once again chosen by BMW; Imola red (405) paint with Nappa leather & Amaretto seats in Imola red and anthracite seats. It also included side airbags, the M3 GT Bi-Plane rear spoiler, front corner spoiler extensions, electric seats, and polished alloy wheels.
Fifteen M3's were ordered by BMW Australia in 1994 to race in the Australian Super Production series. All were delivered to Frank Gardner Racing for final preparation. 11 were made available to the general public, (who have to possess a CAMS license to be allowed to buy one), 4 were retained for the race series, the M3R had locally sourced King springs fitted to group n adjustable struts and rear perches, AP racing twin plate clutch and 4 piston brake calipers, dual pickup sump, an oil restrictor in the head, A C Schnitzer cams, a 3.25:1 ratio medium case diff and M5 driveshaft, cold air snorkel into air filter box replacing left hand fog light, non functional rear seat, air conditioner delete and more aggressive tune, GT front splitter and rear spoiler with extensions and gurney strips. this was the most powerful production E36 made with 2400NaN0. a bolt in FIA approved roll cage was also a factory option (locally produced by Dencar)there were several differences between the cars depending on customer requirements, early numbers had non staggered BBS wheels, later had staggered BBS wheels (individually numbered plaque fitted to centre console below emergency brake lever)
To celebrate the 50th birthday of the German automobile magazine Auto Motor und Sport in 1996, BMW M GmbH handbuilt (at least) one official BMW E36 M3 compact. The car was tested and written an article about in the June edition of the named magazine .
The car embodied all the technical (engine, driveline, suspension) and optical (bumpers, wheels, mirrors, dashboard) characteristics of the stock E36 M3. It was powered by the 321 DIN-hp 3.2-litre engine, and its color was red with a black cloth/alcantara interior. It had the forged Styling 24M 5-doublespoke wheels that came standard on the M3 cabriolet, an exhaust with fairly centered quad exhaust tip, Recaro sports bucket seats, red four-point seatbelts and an alcantara wrapped steering wheel and gear lever. For some reason, BMW M GmbH removed the front fog lights.
The car was donated to the automobile magazine, but there are no details of the car's present whereabouts.
The E36 M3 is considered one of the best-handling cars of all time, and was in fact named "Best-Handling Car Ever – at any Price" by Car and Driver in 1997.
The E36 M3 was also known for exceptional fuel economy in such a high performance car, particularly the North American version.
|Production:||2000 - 2006|
|Body Style:||2-door coupe|
BMW 3 Series
|Transmission:||6 Speed Manual|
6 Speed SMG Drivelogic/SMG II
|Engine:||3.2 L I6|
The E46 M3, first introduced in October, 2000, appeared worldwide with the new 3.2 L S54B32 engine. At the time of the car's introduction, this engine had the highest specific output naturally aspirated engine ever made by BMW, producing and .
The first batch of E46 M3s delivered were Laguna Seca Blue. The available SMG Drivelogic (also known as SMG II) transmission, a Formula 1-style electrohydraulic manual gearbox with no clutch pedal and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, is also a highlight. The model also came with a new 6-speed transmission and red-line RPM of 8000, a first for any BMW. The engine also consisted of 6 independent throttle bodies and electronically driven throttles (without a cable).
In the US, the E46 finally comes with virtually the same engine output as the European version, unlike in the E36 where it was heavily detuned. Power is now at 3330NaN0, five down on the German model due to an extra catalytic converter in the downpipe.
The M3's S54 naturally aspirated engine produces more than per litre (340 hp/3.2 litre).
Cabriolet / Convertible model 1/4 Mile ± 0.5 sec
There are three different E46 M3s produced: Model M3 (Sport, Winter, Competition), The M3 CSL, and the M3 GTR V8 (limited production).
An E46 GTR came to life on February 2001, powered by a 4000 cc V8 producing 4440NaN0 (race version—street version produced 3800NaN0. Unlike the straight-six powered M3 versions, which were outpaced by the Porsche 996 GT3, the racing version of the E46 M3 GTR 16 was very successful in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), entered by Schnitzer Motorsport.Rivals such as Porsche pointed out that this car was more of a prototype as no V8 engine was available in the road-going BMW E46, which is in violation of the spirit of Gran Turismo. In 2001, ALMS regulations stated that cars must be for sale on two continents within twelve months of the rules being issued. To fulfill this rule, BMW put 10 road going GTRs on sale after the 2001 season, for 250,000 euros (then $218,000) each, allegedly only available for select customers.
Due to this, the ALMS rules were altered for 2002 to state that 100 cars and 1000 engines must be built for the car to qualify without penalties. Although BMW could have raced the V8 with the new weight and power penalties under these new regulations, they chose to pull out of the ALMS, effectively ending the short-lived M3 GTR's career.
Two Schnitzer Motorsport GTR cars saw a comeback in 2003 at the 24 Hours Nürburgring, winning 1-2 in 2004 and 2005, as well as entries in the 24 Hours Spa. Onboard coverage recorded in 2004 Hans-Joachim Stuck, Pedro Lamy, Jörg Müller & Dirk Müller on the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps.
BMW made a limited run (less than 1,400 units) of the M3 CSL (E46) machines between June and December 2003. The CSL (Coupe Sport Lightweight) received an aggressive weight reduction campaign, more power (up to 360 hp), and sharper handling characteristics than the standard M3, courtesy of larger anti-roll bars, stiffer spring rates, and semi-slick racing compound tires (Michelin Pilot Sport Cups). From the exterior, the CSL is distinguished from its standard sibling with a different wheel design, larger integrated rear spoiler and a large air intake hole on the left side of the front bumper. Weight loss was achieved through use of a carbon-fiber roof, trunk lid made of sheet molding compound, lighter exhaust manifold, thinner rear glass, carbon fiber front bumper, rear diffuser, interior door panels and console, lightweight racing seats, removed sound insulation, and the removal of side air bags. The M3 CSL's engine differs from the M3 with different camshafts, carbon-fiber intake manifold and alpha-N engine management. Several other features available in a regular M3 as standard such as air conditioning and radio were also deleted, although these options could be added at the request of the owner. SMG II sequential manual gearbox was made standard. Owing to the small production run and the complications and expense of clearing DOT and EPA standards for the North American market, BMW never exported the CSL to the United States, although some parts from it were later made available on the regular M3 as part of an optional Competition Package.
While the CSL was comparable in performance to the Ferrari 360 at half the price, this version of the M3 is often criticized as being too racing-oriented and significantly more expensive than the standard model. With its design so highly focused on weight loss the CSL became less of the "every day car" that the M3 is known for. Another criticism was the unavailability of a manual gearbox as some purists did not find the SMG as satisfying as a traditional stick-shift. Aftermarket tuners like AC Schnitzer have also tweaked regular M3s to perform like the CSL, but at a much lower cost.
While it is known as the M3 Competition Package in the US and mainland Europe, it is also known as the M3 CS (Club Sport) in the UK.
Although the M3 CSL was never exported to the United States, for MY2005 BMW introduced an M3 Competition Package in both Europe and the US (a.k.a. CS/Club Sport in the UK): a $4,000 option which offered a number of upgrades taken from M3 CSL. The package includes:
|Production:||2008 - present|
|Body Style:||4-door sedan|
|Platform:||BMW E90 (Sedan)|
BMW E92 (Coupe)
BMW E93 (Convertible)
|Related:||BMW 3 Series|
|Engine:||4.0 L V8|
The fourth generation BMW M3 was announced on the 2007 Geneva Auto Show (Switzerland, March 6-18th, 2007) with the BMW M3 concept. As was the case with the E46 M3 Concept and E60 M5 Concept, the M3 Concept hid almost nothing of the looks of the production version, that had its world premiere on the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show IAA (Germany, September 13th to 23rd).
Just as the previous M3 generations all introduced a completely new engine, the fourth generation M3 did the same: the BMW S65 engine was introduced. This S65B40 is a naturally aspirated, high revving 4-litre V8 (based on the S85B50 5-litre V10 that powers the E60/E61 M5 and the E63/E64 M6 to date) delivers 4140NaN0 at 8,300 rpm and peak torque is at 3,900 rpm, which represents a power increase of 22% over the E46 M3. The engine weighs less than the outgoing six cylinder for a total weight of . A six-speed manual transmission is standard. As from April 2008, BMW offers a new double-clutch gearbox, called M-DKG (Doppel-Kupplungs-Getriebe) or M-DCT (Double Clutch Transmission) as an option, which reduces shift pauses to less than a tenth of a second and shortens the car's 0- sprint time by 0.2 seconds vs. manual. It features both automatic and manual modes in a manner similar to the SMG gearboxes in the E36 and E46. The E92 M3 coupe inherits the carbon-fiber roof from the E46 CSL as part of the weight-saving program. For 2009, the E9x M3 received the same revisions as the non-M 3 series. The changes include revised front and rear bumpers, and LED tail lights.
The new M3 is once again available as a 4-door sedan, based on the E90 3-Series, but unlike the regular models, this car shares the coupe's front end, including headlights. However, it does not get the 2-door's carbon-fiber roof. The E93 hardtop convertible version joins the lineup shortly after the E92's launch, while an E91 wagon is due in the first quarter of 2009. A CSL lightweight version is heavily debated and longed for amongst car enthusiasts, and cars suspected to be the new M3 CSL have already been spotted at the famous Nordschleife (North Loop) of the German Nürburgring.
It allows the player to perform advanced driving maneuvers such as feathering the brakes, moderating the clutch engagement level, or using lower gears to slow down the engine, thereby decreasing speed.
BMW M3 Challenge features a drivable representation of the GP portion of the famous Nürburgring German race track.