The Fantastic BMW E30 M3
The E30 M3 made its debut at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show and with its wide arched body, motor-sport focused engine and track dedicated persona, the car became an instant classic.
In competition, the E30 M3 was an instant success, taking the fight straight to the Cosworth powered Ford and Mercedes and earned many touring car trophies all over the world. On the road, it was quite simply the high performance benchmark for all other saloons to follow and in an effort to stay in the number one position, BMW released a number of even higher powered Evo and Sport limited edition versions of the car which were even better than the original!
Even by today’s standards, the original E30 M3 is still a desirable drivers car, and it’s box-arched, be-spoilered profile looks every bit the 80’s touring car. The original car produced 192bhp from its 2.3ltr engine which was more than enough to see off it’s rivals, but by the end of it’s production the Evo and Sport versions were pushing out 235bhp!
On The Inside
Inside the cockpit of the E30 M3 there are all the usual suspects. Body hugging, multi adjustable sports seats in either leather or M Sport cloth, three spoke steering wheel, easy to read dash layout with red needles on the clocks and suede covered gear stick. The interior is really all about function, but is still a very nice place to be and the bolstered seats are just as at home on the motorway as they are on the race track. Even though the M3 was track focused, interior layout makes great use of available cabin room and load space in the boot is more than ample. Electric windows, sunroof and mirrors, central locking and a trip computer finish the picture.
On The Road
The M3’s limited production run means it was only ever available in left-hand drive, while its race-bed five-speed manual gear box gets a ‘dog leg’ shift pattern, with first gear down and to the left. These are really the only specific idiosyncrasies to get used to as you first sit behind the wheel. The engine needs to be pushed hard to achieve its potential and is a little lack lustre at low speeds, but the fantastic chassis more than makes up for this and driving this car quickly from point to point, is what it is all about. Steering is sharp and balance is perfect, allowing you to clip every apex with ease and put the car exactly where you want it. The more you drive the car, the less the left hand drive configuration and dog-leg gear shift are noticeable as they become second nature and all part of the M3 experience.
Top Speed….154 mph
Whilst well serviced examples should easily be good for 150 – 200,000 miles, it is worth checking that the BMW recommended valve adjustments have been made at the regular 30,000 mile intervals. Engine and gearbox mounts are also prone to wear due to the stresses of the type of driving this car encourages and front sub frames can also suffer from cracks for the same reason. Obviously check for rust in the normal areas of A and B pillars and door bottoms, but also check for signs of damage to those big box arches as OE replacements are costly! The after market offers everything from free flowing air filters, to power increasing chips and coilover suspension all of which are great modifications in themselves, just remember that they will probably be reflective of the car having more than a few track days under it’s belt!