• Jul 9th 2010 at 7:57PM
  • 50
1986 BMW M3 – Click above for high-res image gallery

It's been 25 years since the BMW M3 first hit the scene. During that time, the car has evolved from a bantamweight fighter capable of taking on heavy hitters of the sports car world to the yardstick that the rest of the segment is measured. In the process, it has shed its bulging, steroid-riddled fenders for smoother sheetmetal and abandoned its four-cylinder engine for an out of this world aluminum mill with twice the pots, but its essence as a well-balanced sports coupe remains.

The transformation wasn't easy. BMW sent the car through innumerable trials on the tracks and trails of the motorsports world, and the mean little 3 Series quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the grid.

BMW has commemorated its wicked child's birthday by recounting the tale of the car's conception. Don't worry: it's a lot less repulsive than listening to your parents yak on about how you came around. The tale is filled with the origins of the car's 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, including where the engineers managed to source parts and the like. It's well worth your time if you've got a second. Check past the jump for the full tale and the high-res gallery below for for the M3's stunning quarter-century as chronicled in photos.

[Source: BMW]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      E30 M3 FTW!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Had an E46 M3 for over 3 years. Fabulous car. I wrote a review of it (good and bad) after I sold it, may help someone considering one.


      • 5 Years Ago
      The earlier ones were so uncomplicated and focused on driving pleasure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've been hunting down an e30 M3 the last couple weeks. I want to move to it but doing so would probably mean letting go of my 2001 Impreza 2.5RS coupe 5mt; might not seem like a difficult choice for most but I love the little Subie.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The E9x series is too quiet in everyday driving from what I've heard on the street as they've passed. My old 2.0-six E36 was much more vocal in daily driving and to me, that's more fun than even the neutral-to-oversteer handling and the quicker revving nature compared to the 325i. You only needed to be traveling at the 30 mph limit to enjoy the bassy rumble from the exhaust, which was drowned out as the revs rose with the engine note.

      I'd love another more than any other BMW, M or otherwise. However, my current ride doesn't average a pitiful 14mpg...
        • 5 Years Ago

        Maybe you have to write a letter to Congress. I just did a stint in a pedestrian e92 335i on Autobahn for 300 miles and believe you me ... it IS loud and satisfying. I can only imagine what current M3 would sound. It's not BMW's fault that we live in 3rd world country.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Doesnt take millions... E30 M3s are not too hard to come by even in great condition. I have found several with the E36 M3 engine swapped in, and it works well in that chassis. They generally run about $20-25k done right and done well...
      • 5 Years Ago
      BMW Rules.... really a great car at the end of day....
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      25 years of SLOW cars with NO torque.

      I'll stick with the C6 and the GTR.....thanks.
        • 5 Years Ago

        4banger no torque M3 ripping V8 Commodore into pices...


        e30 EX DTM M3 vs R34 Falken Skyline GT-R around the Ring... all that more power and fancy AWD and at the end of the lap the M3 is still at the back of the GTR... pretty good perfromance for a old car handicaped by race displacment rules
        • 5 Years Ago
        man, you're an idiot.

        you're comparing 2 different class of cars.
        besides you're not going to pull a trailer with a m3.

        the old m3 was a car for someone who wanted something more, but couldn't afford a 750i, 911 or something.

        on top of that, you're such an idiot and ignorant you don't even know that DTM in the old days was based on 2.3 liter engines.
        hence the mercedes 190 2.3 16v.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ignorance is bliss.
        Enjoy. =)
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I had an E36 M3 for eight years and it is still my favorite of all the cars I owned. No other car was as communicative and as fun to drive (maybe except for the 1990 300ZX). I knew exactly what the car was doing at all times. And the 3 liter engine could be wound up to the redline so effortlessly.

      When I see the E30 M3, back then and now, I stop and just watch it go by. The modification to the body makes it one of my favorite changes to a standard car ever. If I had millions I would get one in white or red in an instant...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I second that.

        I miss my e36 328is.. but honestly, e36's are maintenance nightmares unless you've found someone who's dumped thousands into REPAIRS, not upgrades, within the last few years. There are no deal breakers really, the motor and transmission will last forever, but everything else doesn't hold up quite the same.

        Me and a friend both had e36's and spent thousands of dollars per year to maintain them. In retrospect, that money could have gone to a better place.. :P
        • 5 Years Ago
        I'll part with my E30 when they pry the keys from my cold, dead fingers. It's the only car I'll never sell.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hehehe I think I want an E36 M3 as my next car. I actually find it to be the best looking of them all, personally. The newer ones are just too tall and don't look nearly as sporty or well proportioned.

        I hope it's as good as you say! I won't be able to afford one for at least another 2 years though =[ Need to graduate from school first
        • 5 Years Ago
        One of my favorite cars of all time. I would love an E30 M3 especially, but the E46 is also a beautiful car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As long as you get all the maintenance they are super reliable but
        it's really expensive. Also earlier models like mine had a major
        water pump problem. I've been stranded on the road with the engine
        overheating probably a half dozen times before BMW finally admitted
        it was a problem and fixed it for good. :

        Mine was in dakar yellow, the only year (1995) they made it with the 3.0 liter engine and unique wheels and colored mesh grille. I put all 90,000 miles on that baby. I still regret selling it to this day.

        Even by today's standard, the handling is unbelievable, very direct and the low end torque and short gearing make it for some fantastic driving. Hope you
        get it!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've driven the E30 M3 and its what I lust. But I love my E36 M3. Owned it since 2002 as a Dinan SC M3. I've added the Aftercooler from RMS, thicker Head Gasket, alot of Head Work, and Tuning with the OBDII BMW ECU and have 500rwhp :)

        I don't drive it much, and keep putting upgrades on it, but when I do take it out it puts a smile on my face :)

        I don't like the E46 as much, and the newest ones are just not my cup of tee. The only car I think that goes back to the routes of what a M3 was will be the new M1/1M/135tii/Club Sport or whatever they decide to call it!
        • 5 Years Ago
        WHERE is the "full tale" in "Check past the jump for the full tale" wtf?
        • 5 Years Ago
        There's an E30 M3 parked outside of an apartment two buildings down. Seems pretty neglected, even has cobwebs on the tires. I get sad whenever I pass it by =( Imo one of the best M3s.

        After the E36 they started going downhill imo. Started gaining too much weight.
      • 5 Years Ago
      R. I. P.
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