Model Page

BMW E30 M3

Production Run:


Production Date:

1986 - 1992


BMW S4 2,302 cc In-Line 4 16v


Regensburg (Germany)

Garching (Germany)


6.7 secs

Max Speed:


The BMW E30 M3 was developed by BMWs Motorsport division; the primary reason behind the models development was BMWs desire to produce a successful car for Group A Racing. The chassis and bodywork was radically overhauled from the standard E30 and the engine of choice was the S14 four cylinder 16 valve that was derived from the M10. In order for the car to be eligible for Group A racing 5,000 road going examples had to be built to meet homologation requirements.

BMW E30 M3 Front

BMW E30 M3 Front

The bodywork looked similar to the standard 3-Series E30 models but underwent substantial modifications. The standard body was stripped to the bare shell and stiffened, with the exception of the bonnet and doors all the body panels were changed giving the car its distinctive appearance and increasing the aerodynamic efficiency of the shell. The wheel-arches were flared to allow for the fitting of wider wheels for use on the race track. Revised, 2.5 mph impact bumpers manufactured from SMC plastic were fitted to the car having been designed to promote better airflow management than the base E30 models.. The changes continued with the rear window having been re-angled to increase the airflow over the rear spoiler to increase down-force, the boot lid was approximately 1.5 higher than the standard three series and was fitted with a rear spoiler. The changes reduced the drag coefficient of the car from 0.38 to 0.33. To improve weight distribution the larger capacity battery was relocated to the rear of the car in the boot. Visual improvements included all window trim being black out and the addition of discrete M3 badges on the grill and boot lid. The overall appearance of the car was complimented with the addition of 15 Lattice alloy wheels complete with 205/55 low profile tyres.

Further to the changes listed previously, the modifications continued right throughout the car. The track of the car was widened to help aid the handling characteristics of the model. The suspension did not go un-modified, the car utilized a MacPherson strut / semi trailing arm as on the based model but the car had three times more steering castor with the front anti-roll bar being linked to the struts. The geometry of the front struts was unique to the M3 and the suspension settings stiffened over the standard E30. The wheel bearings were changed to stronger units taken from the 5 series of the time and the rear anti-roll bar was thickened and shortened. The car was fitted with a Getrag five speed gearbox and 25% ZE multi-plate limited slip differential. The model was fitted with a larger, 70 litre fuel tank to improve the range of the vehicle. The car was fitted with vented discs brakes on the front and solid discs on the back fitted with Bosch ABS from the factory (taken from the E28 5 series). In 1988 the car was available with optional Electronic Damper Control. This system offered 3 stiffness levels for the dampers and was adjusted by a control in the centre console.

BMW M3 Engine Bay

BMW M3 Engine Bay

The M3 Engine referred to as the S14 was developed from the M5 M88 straight six by simply removing two cylinders. The engine was designed at the outset to be used for competitive racing and by design is compact and high revving. The engine comprised of a cast iron block mated to an alloy cylinder head with twin overhead camshafts and a four valve per cylinder specification. Each cylinder had its own throttle valve managed by a Motronic Engine Management system. The exhaust and intake ports were machined and the crankshaft featured eight counterweights.

During the production lifecycle there were a number of road going versions of the S14:

1. The standard 2,302cc engine produced 200 bhp @ 6,750 rpm and 176 lb/ft of torque @ 4,750 rpm.
2. Introduced on the E30 M3 Cecotto / Ravaglia in 1989. Engine produces 215 bhp @ 6,750 rpm and 170 lb/ft @ 4,600 rpm. The engine featured a reprogrammed DME unit.
3. Introduced in the M3 Evolution II in March 1988. Engine produces 220bhp @ 6,750 rpm and 181 lb/ft at 4,750 rpm. To differentiate between the lower spec models the engine came with a white cam cover with M sport logo. The increase in power came courtesy of new pistons raising compression to 11:1, a lightened flywheel, reprogrammed engine management unit and a revised air intake.
4. 2,467cc, the engine was used in the 90 E30 M3 Sport Evolution. Power developed was 238bhp @ 7,000 rpm and toque 177lb/ft @ 4,750 rpm. The engine had the engine displacement increased and a high profile cam fitted, special nozzles sprayed oil under the pistons to aid cooling.

Changes continued through to the interior, All M3s were equipped with manual sport seats in cloth, leather or a mixture of both. The rear seat was moulded for two passengers rather than the bench unit that was fitted to standard E30s. The headlining was replaced with black material and a unique instrument cluster featuring red needles and an M logo was installed. The instrument cluster features and Oil temperature gauge replacing the fuel economy meter that was present on other E30s. The steering wheel was changed for a leather M sport three spoke item, the gear knob changed for a leather item with M stripe and the handbrake gaiter was swapped for a leather item.

BMW M3 Interior

BMW M3 Interior

Options for the car included metallic paint, leather interior, heated seats, electrically operated seats and sunroof, rear headrests, trip computer, air conditioning, electronic damper control system and upgraded stereo. Cars bound for America featured a higher specification interior than European specification models and came equipped as standard with Bison leather sports seats, air conditioning, cruise control, electric windows and sunroof, trip computer and eight speaker stereo. Optional extras only included metallic paint, heated seats, glass sunroof and the installation of a CD changer.

The M3 was available as a saloon or Cabriolet, the cabriolet is much rarer with only 786 being produced out of a total of 17,970 cars. Unlike the Saloon, the soft top M3 was manufactured at BMWs Garching Factory.

Throughout the lifecycle a number of special editions were introduced to comply with the homologation rules as the car was revised in order to remain competitive with the competition on the race track these being the Evo 1, Evo 2 and Sport Evolution. These cars featured improved aerodynamics, additional power, less weight etc.

Production of the original M3 ended in 1992 after a total of 18,220 cars had been produced.

The Facts


BMW S14 In-Line 4 16v





Compression Ratio:


Fuel System:

Bosch ML Motronic Fuel Injection

Maximum Power:

200bhp @ 6,750 rpm.

Maximum Torque:

176 lb/ft @ 4,750 rpm.


Manual 5 speed.

Top Gear:



Servo Assisted Ventilated Front Discs / Solid Rear Discs

Kerb Weight:


Max Speed:

143 mph


6.7 secs