• Jun 19th 2008 at 11:29AM
  • 8
Click above for high-res gallery of BMW's latest M3

It's been 30 years since the first BMW wearing a trademark tri-color marking was introduced in a homologation effort as the M1. Since then 300,000 vehicles have been graced with that coveted "M" telltale, and still countless others have had the logo applied in the hopes the letter would add some magic to a plebian 318 or 528. Fully one percent of BMWs sold in 2007 were M models, and the milestone 300,000th car, an alpine white M3 Coupe, will live with its owner in the town of its birth, the East Bavarian hamlet of Regensburg. The M3 is likely the most legendary M car, with the original E30 version also existing for homologation purposes and morphing into the current V8-powered technical tour de force that can now be had in Coupe, Sedan or Convertible guise - a true triple threat. There appears no end in sight for BMW's M division's masterful application of the art and science of high performance engineering. Now, if BMW would just return our calls, we can permanently add the 300,001st M-model to the Autoblog Garage, though we're certain it's already built and sold. Press release after the jump.

[Source: BMW]


Munich. 30 years, 300 000 vehicles and a BMW M3 Coupe – these are the most significant earmarks of a remarkable anniversary. Three decades after commencing with the assembly of their first series production model, the BMW M GmbH has now delivered its 300 000th vehicle. The alpine white BMW M3 Coupe was handed over to a customer in Regensburg. This East Bavarian town is also the location of the BMW plant in which the high-performance sports car is produced.

The anniversary vehicle marks a further milestone in the success story of the BMW M GmbH. The number of customers who choose to purchase a BMW M model still continues to grow. Nevertheless, driving a car boasting the M logo remains an exclusive experience. In the year 2007, BMW M GmbH automobiles accounted for around one percent of the BMW Group's overall turnover worldwide.

The tremendous success of the BMW M GmbH began with a limited production car. In 1978 the company, which was established six years previously as the BMW Motorsport GmbH, presented a mid-engine racing car, featuring a straight six-cylinder power unit that was utilised in the newly founded ProCar series. The car was also produced for reasons of homologation with a 204 kW/277 bhp road version. The two-seater car, which had long become a legend and which, in its anniversary year, was recently abundantly honoured at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2008 at Lake Como, was the fastest German series production sports car when launched. 445 BMW M1 cars were produced up to 1981, one of them being the Art Car designed by Andy Warhol.
Other models included in the range as from 1984 achieved considerably higher production figures. It was then that the BMW M GmbH corporate philosophy, which is still applicable to this day, was established. The aim was to develop high-performance automobiles, which were suitable for everyday road traffic and would fascinate through discrete aesthetics and drive and suspension technology directly inspired by motor racing. This applied unreservedly to the first BMW M5 with a 210 kW/286 bhp straight six-cylinder power unit for example. Thanks to its performance and its understatement factor, the saloon car was extremely popular amongst business travellers.

Two years later, a further M model laid the foundation stone for a new vehicle category. The BMW M3, ancestor of the current fourth model generation, caused a stir both on the road and on the racetrack. It is the most successful touring car ever utilised in motor sports, also becoming a huge commercial success within a very short time. 17,000 first-generation BMW M3 automobiles alone were sold. To this date, the car, which is currently available as the BMW M3 Coupe, the BMW M3 Saloon and the BMW M3 Convertible, accounts for the largest proportion of overall BMW M GmbH vehicle sales.

During the course of the first ten years, around 35,000 BMW M automobiles were put on the road. In 1994, five-digit figures were achieved for the first time within a year. Since then, record sales figures have been consistently achieved, with sales of all BMW M GmbH models continuing to rise further with each new generation. Worldwide purchases of the new BMW M3 alone exceeded 4,000 in the first four months of the current year – even before the market launch of the BMW M3 Convertible and the new M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic. The USA is the most important market for BMW M automobiles, and on the European continent the high-performance sports cars are much coveted in the UK, Germany and Italy.

The vehicle portfolio of the BMW M GmbH currently comprises nine models, all featuring engines with individual characteristics derived from the high-revving concept. The BMW Z4 M Roadster and the BMW Z4 M Coupe boast a straight six-cylinder with 252 kW/343 bhp, the BMW M5, and the BMW M5 Touring, the BMW M6 Coupe and the BMW M6 Convertible all feature a 373 kW/507 bhp V10 engine. Both power units are series winners of the "International Engine of the Year Awards", which the new 309 kW/420 bhp V8 engine utilised in the BMW M3 was also able to seize in its category this year.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I drove a '01 M5 last year and I must say it is still the greatest driving of my life. I almost went halfsies with my
      dad but the old man can't drive a stick to save his life. Later, I got an '02 325i which I have now. Great car, ain't no 330i and defenitely (sic?) not a M5.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Some of the best overall enthusiast cars on the road, and one of the very few that managed the right balance of drivability and all-out performance. Nice job, BMW. Anybody want to trade me an M3 for my Protege5?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Congatulations M division! Keep up the good work bringing us awesome auto's!
      • 7 Years Ago
      And what a 30 years it's been! M cars are consistently some of the most lust worthy vehicles on the road, in my opinion. I got to hear the E92 M3 yesterday when I went and did The Ultimate Drive at my Bimmer dealer, what a sound! Incredible. Wish I could have driven it!
      • 7 Years Ago
      king of hilll!
      • 7 Years Ago
      My dad recently got an M3 coupe that looks exactly like the red one in the first gallery. It is truly amazing. (He let me drive it over 200 miles!)

      Actually, now that I look at the pictures, it's not exactly the same. The dealership only had M3 Coupes with sunroofs, so it doesn't have the CF roof.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I recently drove an M3 and I was actually disappointed. It felt heavy and you had to get to 5,000 RPM for it to move at all (though when it did move, it was a bullet). While in traffic at 2,000 RPM, however, it felt more lethargic than my wife's Rabbit. :

        I think the 135 is waaay more entertaining. It has tons more usable power and is more tossable. -- I felt an instant and glorious connection to it as soon as I started driving it.

        That said, I love older Ms and I'm glad the newer ones exist, but I think they've moved from being fun-focused to being image-focused.
      • 7 Years Ago

      After driving American cars my whole life, I just got an 2003 M5 and let me say my life has changed for the better.

      I can now die a happy man.
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