BMW They have made a name for themselves as the German automaker that produces “absolute driving machines”. Back in 1972, the motorsport division, the division we know as M, was initially founded to facilitate their racing program with the 3.0 CSL, perhaps better known as the Batmobile, which was instrumental in transforming the BMW brand identity to the public.
BMW didn’t really make a sports car until the spring of 1985, which would become a benchmark for its competitors to beat, a car that was born with its motorsport predecessor. It is none other than the legendary BMW M3. Five generations later, the iconic car continues to provide the ultimate driving pleasure expected of a BMW M. Over the years, the German auto giant has created special M3 versions that clearly stand out from the rest, and we’re here to top the 10 final versions of the BMW M3 ever built.
10 E30 M3 DTM
We begin our list with the car that made the M3 a symbol – the M3 DTM. This car blew up the competition during the days of the first group of motorsports, earning the occupied flag a record 41 times in the DTM series.
Not only that, but it also held championship titles in the World Touring Car, European Touring Car, British Touring Car, Italy Superturismo and even in the Australian Touring Car series from 1987 until 1992, where it was replaced by the E36.
9 E46 M3 CSL
Many BMW fans agree that the E46 M3 was like that The perfect combination of muscle and dexterity. The car remained as active as its predecessors, the E30 and E36, while gaining amenities to make it more livable on a daily basis.
And of course, there’s still a hardcore, track-focused version of the E46 called the CSL, which stands for Coupe, Sport and Lightweight, which BMW fans crave. Road and Track even claim the E46 M3 was the “perfect BMW M3 formula”.
8 G80 M3 Competition
Next on our list is the most powerful and luxurious M3 ever – The latest G80 M3 competition. While its elongated kidney grille has left some BMW enthusiasts confused, there is one thing it does not fall short of the new M3, and that is luxurious performance.
There’s a quantum leap forward in terms of interior design and amenities, but it also has one of the most powerful front end you can get in a BMW M. This means you can score some insanely fast lap times around the track while sitting beautifully in a leather bucket seat. It looks like a cloud.
7 E30 M3 Sport Evolution
Here’s the road version of the E30 M3 DTM – the M3 Sport Evolution. This was a thoroughbred driver’s car, and the first of only two M3 homologation cars ever made.
With a lower ride height than the standard E30 M3, the Sport Evolution also has a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that churns out 2.5 liters, with an increased power output of 238 hp. Since it was a homologation model, the car also had an adjustable front splitter and rear spoiler.
6 E90 M3 GTS
The M3’s E90 series has the distinction of being the last generation to come out with a naturally aspirated engine, but boy did it do so with a big hit, as the car was also the only M3 produced with a V8 engine.
Then there’s the M3 GTS, a track-focused, limited-edition version of the E90, with a signature orange finish and a fixed rear wing. Its 4.4-liter V8 produces 444 horsepower, and it weighs 300 pounds lighter than the standard M3. With only 135 units manufactured worldwide, this vehicle is a proven modern classic.
5 E36 M3 Lightweight
The E36 kicked off the M3’s transition from being a true road racer to becoming a softer touring car. While many purists initially disagreed with the move, in the end, the car was eventually hailed as one of the best handling cars of the 1990s.
Its final version came in the form of the M3 Lightweight. True to its name, this particular version was 200 pounds lighter than the standard E36. The soundproofing was removed along with the air conditioning, radio, sunroof and even leather seats, then the doors were made of aluminum to complement the weight loss diet. With only approximately 125 models built during its model run, the car now sells for more than $100,000.
4 F80 M3 CS
And so we came up with the modern M3 that we see nowadays. A four-door, rear-wheel drive sedan powered by a six-wheeled twin-turbo engine. The three-door coupe is no longer called M3s but M4s. Those started with the F80 series.
Before the F80 retired in 2018, BMW gave it a fitting finish with the ultimate version called the CS, or Competition Sport. Lots of CFRPs (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) were used to save about 25 pounds of weight versus the standard M3, and it has 10% more power, pushing the number up to 454.
3 E36 M3 GTR
Now back to the racing versions of the M3, here is the successor to the A-spec E30 – the M3 GTR. This car competed in the German ADAC GT Cup, and like its predecessor, the car was a huge success, especially in the hands of Johnny Sekoto.
The car is truly so rare that, according to CarBuzz, there have only been four of them in the world, and they are all kept by BMW.
2 E46 M3 GTR
We’re sure anyone who’s played Need For Speed: Most Wanted will remember the M3 GTR, but it’s more than just a street racing video game champion car. In fact, this is the first M3 to be powered by a flat-mounted V8.
Most importantly, this purpose-built racing car ended Porsche’s reign once again in the early 2000s in the American Le Mans Series GT class. A version of the M3 GTR was on the road to meet the homologation requirement called Strassenversion, which BMW M calls the unicorn among the E46 M3 models, of which only 10 were made.
1 E90 M3 GT2
Last but not least, there is another racing version that has continued the M3 tradition of winning – the M3 GT2. Like the E46 M3 GTR, it competed in the American Le Mans Series, running from 2009 until 2012.
Her most notable wins came in the 24 Hours of the 2010 Nürburgring, the 2010 ILMC 1000 km from Zhuhai, and two back-to-back wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
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