The E30 BMW M3 started the German marque's iconic line of sporting 3 Series models
BMW's E30 M3 remains the Holy Grail for M car fans, laying claim as genesis to BMW’s most celebrated model. It’s the car that became a motorsport icon, and delivered enthusiasts a pure driving experience they could afford to buy at the dealership. The first in a new series of Carfection films exploring the M3’s heritage has now premiered, with the first video staring an immaculate BMW M3 Sport Evo.
The BMW M3 was designed as a racing car and then backwards engineered into something more road-legal for homologation. It actually only shares its hood with the standard 3 Series; with every other body panel facilitating an aerodynamic or engineering advantage. Boxy wheel arches shroud a widened track, adjustable wings add downforce, and a raised hood aids the aerodynamic profile.
This specific E30 M3 is a Sport Evo special edition, not the rarest E30, but it does come with things like adjustable dampers. A few choice options, such as leather and a trick Alpine gauge cluster, makes this car a great allrounder.
Behind those now famous kidney grilles is a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine derived from the straight-six found in the legendary BMW M1. Apparently called the S14 – because it was developed in just 14 days – it revs freely and sounds great when let loose out on track. It’s connected to a five-speed manual dog-leg gearbox, although US cars got a regular H pattern transmission.
It’s not fast by today’s standards, but as the presenter notes, it’s all about the keen handling. Excellent chassis balance makes it predictable, but he remarks how the driving experience is defined by setting up the front-end of the car — surprising for a rear-wheel-drive machine. The grin on his face says it all.
Check out the video to see the E30 BMW M3 Sport Evo tear around the UK’s Castle Combe race track.