The history of the BMW M3

   

The BMW M3 is a high-performance version of the BMW 3 Series compact car, developed by BMW's branch BMW M. M3 models have been derived from the E30, E36, E46 and E90/E92/E93 3-series, and sold with coupé, sedan and convertible body styles. Common upgrades over the "standard" 3-Series automobiles include more powerful and responsive (yet at times smaller) engines, improved handling/suspension, more aggressive aerodynamics/body, and multiple interior/exterior accents with the tri-color "M" (Motorsport) emblem.
Based on the 1986 model year E30 3-Series, the first M3 was introduced with a 2.3 L I4 S14B23 engine (or S14 in shorthand). The engine design was based on various BMW genealogy; basic block layout from the M10 4 cylinder (found in the 2002 and 320 series) overbored and reinforced to similar specifications of the BMW M88 inline-6. The valve train and head architecture from BMWs M1 and later M6 inline-6 cylinder was adopted for aggressive breathing, resulting in outstanding performance for the day.
The most notable characteristic of the E30 M3 (relative to later M3 iterations) is its racing pedigree. It was campaigned by BMW as well as other racing teams including Prodrive and AC Schnitzer competing in many forms of racing including Rally, German, British, Italian, Belgian, French and Australian touring car.
One of the main reasons for production of the road car was to homologate the M3 for Group A Touring Car racing. One of the reasons often cited for its creation was that it was to compete with the "2.3-16V"-model of the Mercedes-Benz W201 190E which was introduced in 1983, although this was only speculative. When the E30 M3 was in its final years of top level competition, the 2.5 litre S14 engine in full race trim was capable of over 340 hp (250 kW) naturally aspirated.
The third car road-going version produced 195 bhp (145 kW; 198 PS) (catalyzed model). Evolution models (not sold in North America) continued with 2.3 litres but adopted revised exhaust-cam timing, increased compression along with the lack of a catalyst producing approximately 215 hp (160 kW). Later the Sport Evolution model production run of 600 (sometimes referred as Evolution III) increased engine displacement to 2.5 L and produced 238 hp (175 kW). 786 cabriolets were also produced, all by hand in BMW's Garching plant; at the time the 215 hp (160 kW) example was the world's fastest four-seat convertible.
The E30 M3 differed from the rest of the E30 line-up in many ways. The M3 was equipped with a revised stiffer and more aerodynamic body shell as well as "box flared" wheel-arches to accommodate a wider track with wider and taller wheels and tires. The only body panels the standard model 3-series and the M3 shared were the bonnet and sunroof. It also had three times the caster angle of any other E30. The M3 shared larger wheel bearings and front brake calipers with the E28 5-Series. It also had a Getrag 265/5 5 speed gearbox, and rear differential with different final-drive ratio and 25% lockup.
To keep the car competitive in racing following homologation rules changes year to year, homologation specials were produced. Homologation rules roughly stated that the race version must reflect the street car aerodynamically and in engine displacement; therefore, improved models were periodically released for the public. Special editions and homologation specials include: the Evo 1, Evo 2 and Sport Evolution some of which featured less weight, improved aerodynamics, taller front fender arches (Sport Evolution; to further facilitate 18-inch (460 mm) wheels in DTM), brake ducting, and more power. Other limited-production models (based on evolution models but featuring special paintwork and/or unique interior schemes commemorating championship wins) include the Europa, Ravaglia, Cecotto, and Europameister.
Having won more road races than any other model in history, the E30 M3 is considered by many to be the world's most successful road-race car. M3s entered by BMW and privateer racing outfits did dominate the competition for the years it was in production. Its wins include the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, British Touring Car Championship European Touring Car Championship, Australian Touring Car Championship and even the one-off World Touring Car Championship title in 1987. The E30 M3 is also a multiple winner of Guia Race, 24 Hours Nürburgring and Spa 24 Hours.
The E36 M3 debuted in February, 1992 and hit the dealers' showrooms in November that year; it was the first M3 powered by a six-cylinder engine, displacing 2990 cc and developing 286 PS (210 kW; 282 hp). Initially available as a coupé only, BMW introduced M3 convertible/cabriolet and saloon/sedan versions in 1994, the absence of any M5 models in the BMW line-up between the end of e34 M5 production in 1995 and the launch of the e39 M5 in 1998 prompting the introduction of the four door Motorsport model.
Also in 1994, BMW produced the limited-edition M3 GT as a racing homologation special; all GTs were British Racing Green and featured an upgraded 295 PS (217 kW; 291 hp) 3.0 litre engine. 350 GTs were built.
In summer, 1995 M3 coupé and saloon were upgraded to a 321 PS (236 kW; 317 hp) 3.2 litre inline-6; at the same time, the cars received clear indicator lenses, new wheels and a 6-speed gearbox. The Cabriolet did not receive these changes until spring 1996.
The majority of E36 M3's were produced at the Regensburg factory, however a small number of detuned right hand drive M3's were assembled at BMW's Rosslyn plant in Pretoria, South Africa. In total, 46,525 coupés, 12,114 Cabriolets and 12,603 saloons were produced. Saloon production ended in December, 1997; the coupé ceased production in late 1998; and the Cabriolet in December, 1999.
The first E36 M3 to be imported to the United States was the 1995 model, which received a 3.0 L 24-valve DOHC inline-six engine with 240 bhp (179 kW; 243 PS) and 305 N·m (225 lb·ft) (S50B30US), a different suspension and a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time in about 6 s. It was available with 5-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
The 1996-1999 model years had displacement bumped up to 3.2 L, still with 240 bhp (179 kW; 243 PS) , but torque increases to 320 N·m (240 lb·ft) which is the same S52B32US engine used in the early M Roadster and M Coupe. The manual gearbox remains a 5-speed despite the European versions being upgraded to 6-speed. It was also available as a sedan starting in model year 1997, and as convertible in 1998. Production of the sedan was halted in 1998, while the other models continued until 1999.
The E36 M3 was also available as a saloon in the UK for a limited period during 1995-6, during which around 400 RHD models were sold in the UK. This variation had slightly softer suspension but could be purchased with the firmer coupe set-up if the customer wished. Performance figures did not change with the standard 286 bhp (213 kW; 290 PS) (more than the US model by some margin). The 3.2 Evo was introduced with 316 bhp (236 kW; 320 PS) .
There were six special-edition models of the E36 M3 produced: the M3 Euro-Spec (Canadian Edition), M3 CSL (M3 LTW), M3 GT, M3 GT-R, M3-R and the Imola Individual GT2 (the last of the E36s)
There was also an M3 Anniversary Edition only produced in 1999 for Australia. This was the final year of production for the E36, with only 50 coupes and 70 convertibles being made. Furthermore, "BMW Individual" were able to custom design an M3 with specific coloured leather, woodgrain and other personalized options including polished magnesium alloy wheels from the Anniversary edition. Convertibles lacked the sports seats found in the coupe but retained every other feature.
The M3 Evolution Imola Individual was a limited-edition car sometimes referred to as the M3 GT2. The engine and performance characteristics of the car were unchanged from the 1996+ euro M3, and a special exterior and interior colour combination was once again chosen by BMW; Imola red (405) paint with Nappa leather & Amaretto seats in Imola red and anthracite seats. It also included side airbags, the M3 GT Class II rear spoiler, front class II corner spoiler extensions, electric seats, and double-spoke polished alloy wheels.
Prior to the release of the Imola Individual there was a pre-production model made which was used as the basis of the special edition, it featured the Class II front and rear spoilers, special order Imola red Paint, special order Nappa + Anthracite Amaretta interior, SMG gearbox, GSM Phone Kit, headlamp washers and double-spoke polished alloy wheels.
Fifteen M3's were ordered by BMW Australia in 1994 to race in the Australian Super Production series. All were delivered to Frank Gardner Racing for final preparation. 11 were made available to the general public, (who have to possess a CAMS license to be allowed to buy one), 4 were retained for the race series, the M3R had locally sourced King springs fitted to group adjustable struts and rear perches, AP racing twin plate clutch and 4 piston brake calipers, dual pickup sump, an oil restrictor in the head, A C Schnitzer cams, a 3.25:1 ratio medium case diff and M5 driveshaft, cold air snorkel into air filter box replacing left hand fog light, non functional rear seat, air conditioner delete and more aggressive tune, GT front splitter and rear spoiler with extensions and gurney strips. this was the most powerful production E36 made with 240 kW (326 PS; 322 hp). a bolt in FIA approved roll cage was also a factory option (locally produced by Dencar)there were several differences between the cars depending on customer requirements, early numbers had non staggered BBS wheels, later had staggered BBS wheels (individually numbered plaque fitted to centre console below emergency brake lever)
To celebrate the 50th birthday of the German automobile magazine Auto Motor und Sport in 1996, BMW M GmbH handbuilt (at least) one official BMW E36 M3 compact. The car was tested and written an article about in the June edition of the named magazine.
The car embodied all the technical (engine, driveline, suspension) and optical (bumpers, wheels, mirrors, dashboard) characteristics of the stock E36 M3. It was powered by the 321 DIN-hp 3.2-litre engine, and its color was red with a black cloth/alcantara interior. It had the forged Styling 24M 5-doublespoke wheels that came standard on the M3 cabriolet, an exhaust with fairly centered quad exhaust tip, Recaro sports bucket seats, red four-point seat belts and an alcantara wrapped steering wheel and gear lever.
The E46 M3, first introduced in October, 2000, appeared worldwide with the new 3.2 L S54 M-tuned engine. At the time of the car's introduction, this engine had the highest specific output naturally aspirated engine ever made by BMW, producing 333 horsepower (248 kW) and 365 N·m (269 lb·ft).
The E46 M3 was offered with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, but optionally came with a SMG drivelogic transmission (also known as the SMG II). This is the standard 6-speed Getrag transmission with an electrohydraulically actuated clutch pedal. Shifts are made via the SMG gear knob or the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The engine had a redline of 8,000 rpm. As with most M engines, the S54 again had 6 independent throttle bodies and this time electronically operated throttles (drive-by-wire throttle with no cable).
In the US, the E46 M3 came with similar engine output as the European version, unlike in the E36, whose engine was derived from the M50/52 series engine. Power was now at 333 bhp (248 kW; 338 PS) due to an extra catalytic converter. In 2009, Road and Track Magazine announced the 2006 M3 with the SMG transmission as its favorite sports car of all time.
An E46 GTR came to life on February 2001, powered by the P60B40 a 3,997 cc V8 producing 444 bhp (331 kW; 450 PS) (race version—street version produced 380 bhp (283 kW; 385 PS)). Unlike the straight-six powered M3 versions, which were outpaced by the Porsche 996 GT3, the racing version of the E46 M3 GTR 16 was very successful in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), entered by Schnitzer Motorsport. Rivals such as Porsche pointed out that this car was more of a prototype as no V8 engine was available in the road-going BMW E46, which is in violation of the spirit of Gran Turismo. In 2001, ALMS regulations stated that cars must be for sale on two continents within twelve months of the rules being issued. To fulfill this rule, BMW put 10 road going GTRs on sale after the 2001 season, for 250,000 euros (then $218,000) each, allegedly only available for select customers.
Due to this, the ALMS rules were altered for 2002 to state that 100 cars and 1000 engines must be built for the car to qualify without penalties. Although BMW could have raced the V8 with the new weight and power penalties under these new regulations, they chose to pull out of the ALMS, effectively ending the short-lived M3 GTR's career.
Two Schnitzer Motorsport GTR cars saw a comeback in 2003 at the 24 Hours Nürburgring, winning 1-2 in 2004 and 2005, as well as entries in the 24 Hours Spa. Onboard coverage recorded in 2004 Hans-Joachim Stuck, Pedro Lamy, Jörg Müller & Dirk Müller on the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps.
Private teams (Scheid, Getrag, etc.) also have fit 3,997 cc BMW V8 engines into the E46 body to race on the Nürburgring, winning some VLN races in the last years.
The BMW M3 CSL (coupe sports lightweight) was a limited edition version of the M3, with only 1,400 cars being produced for its 2004 model year run. The CSL was never released into the North American market and was only available in two colours - Silver Grey Metallic and Black Sapphire Metallic.
As its name suggests, an emphasis was put on reducing weight. The M3 CSL has a kerb weight of 1,385 kg (3,050 lb), 110 kg (240 lb) lighter than the regular M3. The CSL features many weight saving technologies taken from BMW's Formula One racing applications. A large proportion of the M3's sound insulation has been removed, as have the power windows, electric seats, and navigation systems. Air conditioning and stereo systems could be retrofitted free of cost, but were not available standard. The CSL's unique body pieces are all crafted from carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Glass-reinforced plastics are used throughout structural points in the car. The rear glass window was replaced with lightweight plastic. Although the CSL loses a considerable amount of kerb weight from its original version, the focus was put on strategically reducing or moving the weight in the car rather than the raw amount of weight that could be lost. This is to retain the ideal 50:50 weight distribution characteristics the E46 has. For example, the roof is constructed from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. While this only reduces the kerb weight of the car by 7 kg (15 lb), it lowers the centre of gravity of the car and decreases body flex.
In order to improve the handling ability of the car, the entire suspension system was further refined. Specially developed racing springs and dampers are given to the CSL, and a tightened steering ratio (14.5:1 vs 15.4:1 on the regular M3) improves responsiveness. The braking system is also modified, with larger front and rear floating rotors and calipers from the E39 M5. The CSL is given a retuned dymanic stability control system with a "M track mode" setting that allows the car to be pushed to its absolute limits before being activated.
The 3.2l engine used in the M3, the BMW S54, has been modified to increased output by 17 hp (13 kW) and 5 N·m (1 lbf) over the European M3. This is achieved through a high flow carbon fibre air intake, modified valve and camshaft timing, and a retuned DME. However, the engine is further modified in order to reduce weight - it features a lightweight exhaust manifold and thinner exhaust piping. Additionally, the intake and exhaust manifolds are slightly straightened to improve engine responsiveness.
The CSL also has various aesthetic modifications over the standard M3. It received an aerodynamic lightweight body kit which included carbon fibre front splitters that improved downforce at high speeds by 50%, as well as a carbon fibre rear diffuser. The front bumper has a distinct hole that is used to draw cool air into the newly designed air intake. The boot lid is redesigned to incorporate a raised lip, unlike the standard M3 where one is simply added on to a flat boot. The CSL was sold with distinct 19 inch lightweight forged BBS alloy rims that came with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup semi-slick racing tires. The interior of the CSL is redesigned with a sporty-weight saving theme. The CSL obtains fiberglass front racing bucket seats, and fiberglass backed rear seats. The centre console, door panels and trim, and headliner are all formed from carbon fibre, and the steering wheel is redesigned with cruise control, stereo, and phone controls removed to include just a single button that activates the M track mode.
Unlike the standard M3, which was offered with a standard 6-speed Getrag transmission, or optionally a SMG drivelogic transmission (also known as the SMG II), the CSL was offered only with the SMG II transmission. This is the standard 6-speed Getrag transmission with an electrohydraulically actuated clutch pedal, similar to an Formula One style transmission. However, the CSL received a more advanced drivelogic unit than the standard M3 that was capable of making shifts in 0.08 of a second.
The fourth generation BMW M3 was announced on the 2007 Geneva Auto Show (Switzerland, March 6-18th, 2007) with the BMW M3 concept. As was the case with the E46 M3 Concept and E60 M5 Concept, the M3 Concept hid almost nothing of the looks of the production version, that had its world premiere on the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show IAA (Germany, September 13 to 23rd).
Just as the previous M3 generations all introduced a completely new engine, the fourth generation M3 did the same: the BMW S65 engine was introduced. This S65B40 is a naturally aspirated, high revving 4-litre V8 (based on the S85B50 5-litre V10 that powers the E60/E61 M5 and the E63/E64 M6 to date), delivering 414 bhp (309 kW; 420 PS) at 8,300 rpm, with peak torque at 400 N·m (300 lb·ft) at 3,900 rpm, which represents a power increase of 22% over the E46 M3. The engine weighs 15 kg (33 lb) less than the outgoing six cylinder for a total weight of 202 kg (450 lb). A six-speed manual transmission is standard. As from April 2008, BMW offers a new Getrag double-clutch gearbox, called M-DKG (Doppel-Kupplungs-Getriebe) or M-DCT (Double Clutch Transmission) as an option, which reduces shift pauses to less than a tenth of a second and shortens the car's 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint time by 0.2 seconds vs. manual. It features both automatic and manual modes in a manner similar to the SMG gearboxes in the E36 and E46. The E92 M3 coupe inherits the carbon-fiber roof from the E46 CSL as part of the weight-saving program. For 2009, the E9x M3 received the same revisions as the non-M 3 series. The changes include revised front and rear bumpers, and LED tail lights.
The new M3 is once again available as a 4-door sedan, based on the E90 3-Series, but unlike the regular models, this car shares the coupe's front end, including headlights. However, it does not get the 2-door's carbon-fibre roof. The E93 hardtop convertible version joins the lineup shortly after the E92's launch, while an E91 wagon, which was due in the first quarter of 2009, has now been cancelled. A CSL lightweight version is heavily debated and longed for amongst car enthusiasts, but while cars suspected to be the new M3 CSL have apparently been spotted at the famous Nordschleife (North Loop) of the German Nürburgring, the M division have stated that they do not plan to offer an e9x M3 CSL and are instead focussed on producing M versions of the X5 and X6 in a significant departure from M's historic practices.
The front-end design of the BMW M3 Sedan matches the specific look and high-performance character of its Coupé sibling; however the side-sills, front side panel “gills” and rear air dam are uniquely tailored for the sedan. The M3 Sedan is powered by BMW’s all-new 4.0-litre V8 developing maximum output of 309 kW (420 PS; 414 hp) and maximum torque of 400 N·m (300 lb·ft) at 3,900 rpm. The four-door M3 accelerates to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds and records average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle of 12.4 litres/100 kilometres.
BMW announced the M3 GTS in November 2009. The car is powered by a 4.4-litre V8 based on the 4.0-litre engine found in the standard M3, which produces a maximum of 450 bhp (336 kW; 456 PS). A total of only 99 units will be produced. In Germany deliveries begin in May 2010 while other countries are scheduled for the summer. The BMW E92 M3 GTS will start at €115,000 per unit. All E92 M3 GTS models have now been sold .

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