Have you seen the BMW M3 2021? With 473 horsepower produced by a high-end B58 engine, the modern M3 is as powerful as it is stunningly handsome. However, this car stands on the shoulders of its iconic predecessor – the BMW M3 E30. M3 dashboards have always been a high-performance BMW 3 Series. In other words, the M3 comes from the cradle of BMW’s defunct motorsport division known as BMW M GmbH. BMW M GmbH is just a German way of saying BMW Motorsport GmbH.
However, the E30 is the first-ever M3-car, and since then Bimmer has been making it for every BMW 3-Series produced. BMW The E30 was produced from 1986 to 1991. In other words, the E30 is the first of its kind.
The purpose-built, motorsport-inspired coupe made its debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA) in 1985. The M3 went on to become a true legend after kicking a lot of donkeys in motorsports. Telling the M3’s story is far from complete without highlighting the legend whose legacy they all stand for, the 1986 BMW M3 E30.
The 1986 BMW M3 E30 shines on the roads and tracks
BMW introduced the M3 E30 Coupe, a high-performance 2-door and 4-passenger car. The convertible variant came later, in 1988 specifically. Despite the resounding success of the M3, it was the fruit of a humble vision – stock in the BMW showroom. In other words, the plan was to build a monolithic racing car, something other marquis at home and abroad hadn’t done.
However, not even BMW expected the M3 to continue to achieve legendary status by killing it on everyday roads and racing tracks. BMW had to sell at least 5,000 units of the M3 within 12 months to qualify as a production racehorse, but that wasn’t until the start of the M3’s legendary feat even before it took its place in the DTM (Deutsche Turnwagen Masters) starting the line in 1986.
Ah, the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters is just a German way of saying the masters of German touring cars. Although based in Germany, the (racing) rounds of the DTM have taken place in other European countries as well.
Focusing on touring class racing, the M3 E30 will first test its power at the legendary Nürburgring before entering the production cycle. The Nürburgring Endurance Event is globally recognized as the toughest and most demanding track in the world. Having proven its endurance at the Nürburgring, the M3 continued to install the Italian high-speed test track Pista di prova di Nardò della Fiat (Nardo Ring).
The E30 owes much of its success to the good folks at M GMBH, who were so good that they fitted the M3 with advanced components pulled from stock Bimmer Racing Parts. For example, the powertrain included a regulated catalytic converter – something you didn’t see every day in the 80s, which ensured the engine lost only a little power from 200 to 195 hp.
The E30’s powertrain included ABS brakes, ventilated discs and a race-focused suspension system that delivers competitive driving stability and everyday use. The suspension consists of a McPherson strut, lower wishbones, coil springs, an independent anti-roll front suspension rod, a semi-tow lever, coil springs and an independent rear suspension rod.
With 200 horsepower at 6750 rpm, the E30 didn’t need a 6-cylinder engine or a turbocharger. It carried a 2.3-liter twin-cam BMW 3 Series 3 Series engine, with 4 valves per cylinder producing 177 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. This engine gave the E30 light weight, high torque and durability. BMW has paired the engine with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
With a curb weight of 2,570 pounds, the car can cover 62 mph in 6.7 seconds and achieve a top speed of 146 mph. Admittedly, the E30 is the street version of the most successful DTM racing car ever.
Is the 1986 BMW M3 E30 a classic?
The truth is that the BMW M3 E30 occupies a place of great historical importance to the company that made it, but it was the children of the E30 who cemented its place in the annals of the most famous sports car in automotive history.
Take the 1988 BMW M3 E30 Evolution, for example. It arrived with 220 horsepower and a top speed of 151 mph. Then the BMW M3 E30 Sport Evolution appeared with a 2.5-liter engine with 238 hp, adjustable front aprons and a one-piece racing seat. These were true developments of the original BMW 3 Series-based E30 as they underlined a sustainable rise in the M3 lineup throughout its years of production.
In the world of classic cars, when we go beyond “rare”, we meet with “extremely rare”. The E30 is not just a classic car. The Sport Evolution, with only 600 units produced, is officially considered “one of the rarest and therefore most sought-after classic cars.” As one of the rarest, it does show that there are other rare cars, including Roberto Ravaglia’s 1989 BMW M3 E30 Edition.
According to Classic, the average price for the BMW M3 Coupe – E30 is $66,688. However, you will have to wait a long time before you can see any of them for sale. At the time of writing, none are available for sale at the Classic, although a 1991 M3 was recently auctioned on BaT.