Here’s How a Racing Series Made BMW Build the M3

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The BMW M3 is one of the best sports cars in the world. But did you know it was built so BMW could go racing?

The BMW M3 is one of the models that truly made the brand the Ultimate Driving Machine. Simply put, the M3 is the standard for all small performance sedans. And it all started with the original E30 model. In the mid-’80s, the 3 Series was already a sales success. The little BMW sold well as a fun and enjoyable driver’s car.

The BMW E30 M3 in its natural habitat.

But in Germany, a storm was brewing in DTM, a touring car racing series for small sedans. Mercedes was dominating DTM with their 190E 2.3-16 sedan. BMW boss Eberhard von Kuenheim decided that the company couldn’t let that stand. He ordered BMW’s Motorsport division to build a competitor. With that, the M3 was born.

DTM had a 5,000 car homologation rule. BMW’s marketing department didn’t think the brand would sell all 5,000 units. As the sales numbers show, they were completely wrong. BMW built over 23,000 M3 road cars from 1987 to 1991.

The M division took great care to make the best car possible, whether on the road or track. The M3 shares only 4 body panels with the regular 3 Series. In order to achieve the perfect weight balance, a four-cylinder engine was chosen over a traditional inline-six. In our opinion, the E30 model will always be the best M3, if only because BMW built it to go racing and homologation cars are awesome.

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In this video, Donut Media takes us through the history of the iconic BMW from the beginning until today. Over the years, the M3’s engine cylinder count has grown from four to six to eight and back to six. The modern model is a sedan only, but it’s still the industry benchmark for performance sedans. For us, that says it all.

Which M3 do you like best? Let us know in the comments.

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