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The E30 M3 is the BMW Motorsport-developed version of the E30 3 Series and was intended to be a homologation special to satisfy the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) and Group A Racing rules, which required a total of 5,000 road cars to be built. The chassis was based on the basic E30 3 Series design but had been thoroughly reworked by BMW M in every significant area. The only exterior body panels the M3 shared with the regular 3 Series were the hood, sunroof, and inner door panels.

1991 BMW M3 Engine

At the heart of the BMW M3 was its sophisticated S14 four-cylinder engine. The high-revving DOHC design was based on BMW’s popular two-liter four-cylinder engine with a modified, four-valve head that was a direct descendant of BMW’s M88/S38 six-cylinder that was made famous in the renowned BMW M1. The result was a 2.3-liter engine with low weight, high torque and durability that produced 192 horsepower and had a top speed of 146 MPH.

Interior shot of a 1991 BMW M3

The E30 M3 competed in many forms of motorsport and was highly successful in touring car racing. In full race trim, the 1988 M3’s 2.3-liter, naturally aspirated engine was rated at approximately 296 horsepower. The E30 M3 won the 24 Hours Nürburgring five times (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994) and the Spa 24 Hours four times (1987, 1988, 1990 and 1992), often competing against cars with significantly larger or turbocharged engines.

1991 BMW M3 Instrument Cluster

To keep the car competitive in racing following year-to-year homologation rules changes, homologation specials were produced and sold in limited volumes. These include the Evo 1, Evo 2, and Sport Evolution, with upgrades including weight reduction, improved aerodynamics, taller front wheel arches (to allow 18-inch wheels to be used in DTM racing), bigger brake ducts and more power output from the engine. With the introduction of the 2.5-liter Evolution engine into racing in 1990, power increased to approximately 374 horsepower.

Front Photo of a 1991 BMW M3

Having won more road races than any other BMW model in history, the E30 M3 is the world’s most successful BMW race car and is frequently cited on lists of the most successful race cars of all time. From the model years 1986 to 1991, total production of the E30 M3 was 17,970 cars.

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