A brief history of the BMW M3

13 December, 2013 | by TopGear.com

In the spring of 1985, something cataclysmic was causing BMW’s M Division engineers sleepless nights. Something huge. Something so immense, it was impeding development of one of the finest drivers’ cars…in the world.

What was this biblically terminal problem that could have ended the M3 as we know it? At full chat around the Nürburgring during trials, the gases running through the exhaust system were so hot, it was expanding the high-performance system…by a whopping 25 millimetres.

“Mein Gott, ist die Welt zu Ende gehen”, they must have shrieked. Luckily, they engineered an ingenious solution. A new set of washers. This gave the exhaust system a little more play, and subsequently allowed the engineers unimpeded travel around the north loop to complete their tuning of this, the very first 3-Series to wear an M badge: the BMW M3.

You know how the story goes. Forged from the fires of Mount Motorsport and built to tackle the world of touring cars (and thus, needing at least 5,000 production models built in the space of twelveconsecutive months). It came about when former BMW CEO Eberhard Kuenheim said at the time, as an aside: “We need a sporty engine for the 3 Series”.

And thus, the seeds of the ‘M3′ were sown. First came the E30, then E36, then E46, and finally E92. Why finally? Because at the tail end of last year, BMW announced the 3-Series Coupe would be no more, and taking its place would be a new ‘4-Series Coupe’. Thus, the M3 Coupe would cease to exist. This clearly resonated with you lot, because when we showed you a picture of the very last one being built on the production line, our rusty manifold of internet nearly fell off.

Fear not though, because we have salvation. First, we took some time to speak to BMW about the upcoming M4, and the initial signs look very promising - click here to read the full story about the new lightweight, turbocharged coupe.

Secondly, we have compiled lots of pictures of the M3 in all its coupe guises, from E30, through E36 and E46, right up to the V8-powered E92 M3, for your delectation. All that we ask is you nominate your favourite M-Power 3-Series and one good, intelligible reason for it being the best M3. Personal experience? Engine performance? On-track prowess? Anything. Just so long as its not “it eatz Audis and Merczs all dayz yeah”. Please don’t say that.


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