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BMW Buyer's Guide

BMW E30 M3 Specs & Information


The legendary E30 M3 was the first generation of the BMW 3 series Motorsport line. The E30 M3 was based on the E30 3 Series, released in 1986. Although based on the E30 3 Series, the E30 M3 is quite different in style, form, power and performance from the E30. The E30 M3 also borrowed some of the components from the 5 Series, including the hubs, axles, brakes and ABS system.

The E30 M3 was campaigned as a racing car and the initial version had 195 hp, the evolution models had the same 2.3 liters but with revised cam timing they produced 215 hp. To make the E30 M3 a competitive racecar, several models and special editions were released. Each model was an improved version of its predecessor. Special editions were Evo 1, Evo 2 and the Sports Evolution. The Sports Evolution was lighter, more aerodynamic. The Sports Evolution model of the E30 M3, released later on, had 2.5 liter displacement with 238 hp. Among all the Evolution models, the 1990 Evo III was the strongest, due to it's 2.5 liter engine and 238 hp became the most popular. The E30 M3 Cabriolet version was launched in 1988 and was available until 1991. The cabriolets were hand built and only 786 units were made. To comply with FISA’s Group A homologation requirements, BMW produced no less than 5000 units within the first year. Also, the racecar must have the same engine and design as the production models.

The E30 M3 was a very successful road race car. It won the 24 Hours Nürburgring, Spa 24 Hours, Guia Race, European Touring Car Championship, Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, and the World Touring Car Championship titles. The production of the E30 M3 ended in 1992. Except for the hood and the roof, the E30 M3 is quite different from the E30 3 Series. The E30 M3 had a more aerodynamic body, was stiffer and had “box flared” fenders to make room for bigger wheels. Its caster angle is three times that of the E30 but it had the same large wheel bearings, as well as front brake calipers, as the E28 5 Series. The 2.3 liter 16v variant had 143 kW/192 bhp, can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds and had a top speed of 143 mph (230 km/h). The 2.5 liter 16v variant had 175 kW/238 bhp, can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds and had a top speed of 154 mph (248 km/h). All in all, there were 13 versions of the E30 M3 produced by BMW. Some of the models were limited editions and many European models were not sold in North America.

This BMW M3 is considered by many to be a classic vehicle. The e30 m3 is truly a one of a kind car that still entertains its driver more than most of the current BMW M offerings. If you are looking for a true fun to drive car that has go-cart like handling the E30 M3 could be the car for you. As this BMW motorsport model is 20 years old buying one could be a good investment as long as you know what is it that you actually purchasing, many if not most of these BMW M3's spent plenty of hours around racetracks and it's not necessarily a bad thing. Well kept examples are priced close to or over $20,000 and if you think you can save a bunch by picking one at about 10k you might be making a mistake, or probably just feel like spending some cash on repairs.

Model #

  • Engine
  • Horse Power
  • Torque
  • 0-62mph
  • Top Speed
  • Production#:
  • Weight
  • Length
  • Width
  • Height
  • Prod.years

E30 M3

  • 2302cc 4cyl DOHC
  • 200hp@6750rpm
  • 176lbs@4750rpm/169w.cat
  • 6.7sec
  • 146mph
  • 17,184
  • 2640lbs
  • 171.7 inches
  • 65.9 inches
  • 53.7 inches
  • 1986-1990

E30 M3 convertible

  • 2302 4cyl DOHC
  • 195,200,215hp ver.
  • 176ft-lbs@4750rpm
  • 7.3s/215hp version
  • 146mph
  • 786
  • 2998lb
  • 171 inches
  • 65.9 inches
  • 53.9 inches
  • 1988-1991

E30 M3 EVO III

  • 2467cc 4 cyl
  • 238hp@7000rpm
  • 177ft-lbs@4750rpm
  • 6.5sec
  • 154mph
  • 600
  • 2640lbs
  • 171.7"
  • 65.9"
  • 53.7"
  • 1989-1990


There were several other special edition models:
• EVO I and e30 M3 EVO II with a 220hp engine
• M3 Europa Meister in 1988 with 150 units
• M3 Checotto/Ravaglia /below/ with a 215hp engine in 1989 with 505 units.

bmw e30 m3 checotto bmw e30 m3 e30 m3 checottto

Driving impressions: One of my all time favorite cars, having personally owned one, I can honestly say the e30 BMW M3 is a true character with it's race car feel, sound and handling there is just no cars on today’s market that can give this back to you, feedback is outstanding just like driving a grown up gokart.


e30 m3 engine e30 m3 touring car e30 m3
bmw e30 m3 race car e30 m3 carbon fiber air intake bmw e30 m3
e30 m3 group a e30 m3 e30 m3 race interior
test drive video bmw
thumbnail image e30 M3
bmw e30 m3 touring car video click here




BMW E36 M3 Specs & Information


The E36 M3 was launched in 1992 at the prestigious Paris Auto Show. It succeeded the highly acclaimed road racecar, the E30 M3. The E36 coupe was fitted with 3.0 liter straight-six engine called: S50B30 with 286bhp. In 1996, the E36 M3 ‘s engine received a slight change in displacement to 3.2 liter, producing 321 hp, code: S50B32. It also had the larger brakes found in the M5 and a six-speed gearbox. The following year, BMW’s Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG-1) became one of the optional features of the E36 M3. The upgraded models became known as Euro models since they were significantly different from the ones sold in North America. Then the 3.2 Euro models became more commonly known as M3 Evo.

For the US market BMW started to offer the e36 m3 with a less exotic naturally less expensive cylinder head, the company decided to part with the individual throttle body, and some other features of the European sibling, this change resulted in a significant drop in power to 240hp, however the US version e36 m3 was still a close match from a standstill thanks to it's more flexible torque curve @225ft-lb, and different gearing, the engine was designated as S50B30US.

In 1996 the US version of the e36 M3 received the same changes as the European model, with a slight change in displacement to 3.2l the new engine was designated S50B32US,/Evolution/. Power output stayed the same as the engine electronics were changed to OBD 2. The 1997-98 model year introduced the first ever sedan version of the M3 and the convertible entered the market in the same year. The sedan quickly became popular if not just for being the ultimate family sedan and fastest saloon at the time, given the fact that BMW stopped production on it's e34 M5 versions in 1995, but for having an excellent balance that was better than its coupe version as well. The performance of the sedan version was exactly the same as the coupe M3 being only about 30lbs heavier. Limited slip differential was standard on all BMW M3s.

For the happiness of the American BMW M3 enthusiasts BMW released A CSL version of the car called lightweight by many. The CSL (coupe sports lightweight) was around 200 lbs lighter and had almost all of its features removed including air conditioning, sunroof, sound deadening, leather seat and radio. However, the CSL had other features not seen in the M3, such as the extendable front splitter, lower x-brace, strut tower base and dual pick up oil pump. The e36 m3 CSL 2950 pounds "light" with an 1/4 mile time of 13.9sec @ 100mph. The acceleration of the car was not only the result of the reduced weight but its also sported a rear end with 3.23:1 instead of the normally supplied 3.15:1. It is also believed that the company pulled the best performing engines off the production line with a so called" higher end of design tolerance"

The E36 M3 today becoming an excellent value for the money, relatively easy to get more power from the engines and make them a good candidate for tracking, however as with most BMWs one should consider buying a car with good service history and care to avoid expensive repairs down the road. One of the weaknesses of the E36 is the plastic impeller water pump that should be replaced by newer versions with metallic impeller with aluminum housing. Noisy double vanos system could be expensive to repair. The 1995 OBD 1 models are more sought after and tend to hold their value better thanks to their more tuner friendly engine management.

Double VANOS: infinitely variable camshaft timing system unlike the previous version, this new double vanos system worked both on the intake and exhaust valves

Model #

  • Engine
  • Horse Power
  • Torque
  • 0-60mph
  • Top Speed
  • 1/4 mile
  • Weight
  • Length
  • Width
  • Height
  • years made

E36 M3 OBD I coupe

  • 3000cc 6cyl DOHC
  • 240hp@6000rpm
  • 225ft-lbs@4250rpm
  • 6.2sec
  • 137mph-ltd
  • 14.6sec@97mph
  • 3219lbs
  • 174.5 inches
  • 67.3 inches
  • 53.8 inches
  • 1995

E36 M3 OBD II EVO

  • 3200cc 6cyl DOHC
  • 240hp@6000rpm
  • 236ft-lbs@4250rpm
  • 5.7sec
  • 137mph-ltd
  • 14.5@98mph
  • 3170lb
  • 171 inches
  • 65.9 inches
  • 53.7 inches
  • 1997-1998

E36 M3 convertible

  • 3200cc 6cyl
  • 240@6000rpm
  • 236ft-lbs@4250rpm
  • 6.2sec
  • 137mph
  • ---
  • 3395lbs
  • 171.7"
  • 65.9"
  • 53.1"
  • 1996-1999


The E36 M3 is truly an impressive machine with a very forgiving character, perfectly balanced with plenty of power on tap and even today it offers great performance that still cannot be matched by most manufacturers. The US version has the best fuel economy between all Motorsport cars.

E36 M3 coupe interior BMW E36 m3 convertible bmw e36 m3 coupe

The below pictures show some of the differences between a US spec S50 and the European engine with its indiviual throttle bodies, on the bottom right the M3 CSL, an estimated 85-120 examples made there is still no confirmation on the number of released cars from BMW.
e36 m3 engine e36 m3 euro engine e36 M3 CSL




BMW E46 M3 Specs & Information

The E46 M3 was released for the US market in the 2001 model year, and finished production in 2006, the e46 was the most successful M3 to date, and for the US market a major improvement from the e36 m3, as the E46 BMW m3 this time around shared the same engine as it’s European sibling.

For the first time on the overseas market BMW introduced the SMG transmission namely the SMG II, this gearbox is derived from the formula one race cars, with it's electronically controlled clutch setup. Shifting is done via the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters or the SMG shifter located as a normal transmission lever in the center consol. There are automatic and manual modes available. There is six manual modes S1-S6 modes, the higher the S number the faster the shifting is done by thes computer, and five automatic modes A1-A5. By having this type of setup the car is able to achieve 100 millisecond shift times.

The new engine was a 3.2 liter inline six code named S54B32 and with 333hp @7900rpm this was the first BMW M car to step over the magic mark of 100hp/liter. Double VANOS technology was carried over from the E36 M3 the benefits of this technology include more low to medium range torque for better acceleration.

The E46 M3 had BMW’s traditional individual throttle body setup ,which were placed near the cylinders to bring atmospheric pressure right to the cylinder. All throttles are operated from a single shaft. Electronic drive-by-wire throttle control was implemented as well for amazingly fast ability to jump to full throttle position making the car react insanely fast to driver input.

The e46 m3 received the new variable M differential lock that helps reduce the risk of wheel spin during high performance driving, the system uses multiple clutch plates and can achieve a full 100% lockup if needed.

The E46 M3 never received a 4 door version, it was only available in coupe and convertible models.

As most BMW M3 cars the company released special edition models, for Europe the CSL was sold only from June to December of 2003 and BMW produced only 1,400 units. The CSL or Coupe Sport Lightweight as the name denotes is lighter. It is also more powerful with 360 hp and with its semi-slick racing tires, is sharper in handling. It also had larger rear spoiler and intake hole on the left front bumper, carbon fiber roof, trunk lid interior door panels and console, thinner rear glass, lighter exhaust manifold and Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG II). The CSL was not marketed in the United States due to EPA and DOT standards although the M3 Competition Package was released for the US in 2005.

The US market received it's own enhanced version the so called competition package option in 2005, with a better steering ratio and some minor changes such as a special alcantara steering wheel.

The second special edition model was the M3 GTR V8. The GTR was released in 2001 and had 4000 cm³ V8, 444 bhp for the race version and 380 bhp for the street version. To comply with the American Le Mans Series regulation, BMW marketed 10 units of the GTR after the 2001 season.

Model #

  • Engine
  • Horse Power
  • Torque
  • 0-60mph
  • Top Speed
  • bhp/liter
  • Weight
  • Fuel Economy
  • Final drive ratio
  • Lenght/width/height
  • wheelbase

E46 M3 coupe/convertible

  • 3246cc 6cyl 24valve
  • 333hp@7900rpm
  • 262ft-lbs@4900rpm
  • 4.8sec/5.4sec
  • 155mph-ltd
  • 104
  • 3414/3781lbs
  • 16-24mpg/16-23mpg
  • 3.64:1
  • 176.9/70.1/54inches 53.9ci
  • 107.5inches

E46 M3 CSL

  • 3246cc 6cyl 24v
  • 360hp@7900rpm
  • 273ft-lbs@4900rpm
  • 4.8sec
  • 155mph-ltd
  • 111
  • 3053lbs
  • 171 inches
  • 65.9 inches
  • Height 53.7 inches
  • 1997-1998


We yet to see it, but the E46 M3 has a really good chance to be the best selling M3 ever in the history of bmw. It has a truly amazing engine and very good balance. By now it's getting "affordable" to own and very good deals can be found out there. If you are looking to buy an e46 m3 you should keep in mind that some of the earlier models had rod bearing issues, most of these have been fixed by factory dealers and it should be included in their maintenance history.

E46 M3 coupe instruments BMW E46 m3 interior bmw e46 m3 convertible

Clockwise: E46 m3 instruments lit up, interior, convertible, M3 E46 GTR on the track, SMG setup, and the BMW M3 CSL.


BMW M3 CSL BMW SMG M3 BMW E46 M3 GTR

m3 SMG thumbnail


BMW E90 E92 E93 M3 Specs & Information


The new BMW M3 is loaded with new technology promoting further weight reduction, starting with the front axle being almost fully made of aluminum, including the central sub frame of the car. The rear axle features all aluminum track control arms; this new suspension has almost nothing in common with the regular BMW 3 series cars. BMW equipped the new coupe with a carbon fiber roof first offered in the M6 /not available on the sedan models/ to further lower weight and center of gravity, allowing for even more responsive handling characteristics.

The interior of the vehicle is nearly identical to the 3 series cars, with the exception of even sportier seats, and most of the interior elements being covered in beautiful stitched Novillo leather. Taking a look at the dials will remind you that you sitting in something special, the tech hands are finished in red as in most BMW M cars, and the oil temperature gauge in the tach dial, the well known engine temp. Indicator from the E46 M3 is still present as it is a useful tool or lets just say a good reminder not to rev the car more than suggested while it's still warming up.

To keep the new M3 on the road easier, there is four systems some are already known from earlier models or the M5:

-throttle sensitivity
-optional variable shock absorbers
-stability control
-power steering assist

The M drive button is located on the steering wheel and can be used to switch the vehicle into sport mode, these elements are individually adjustable within the idrive system menu and for quicker access they are more conveniently located on the center console next to the shifter as well. The push button start has been carried over from other models.

The new engine is simply amazing with 414 horsepower @8300rpm on tap with maximum torque 295 ft-lb@ 3900rpm.


The differential is equipped with the M variable differential lock, with a full up to 100% lock action it ensures great handling at traction under all driving conditions.

Braking performance is simply outstanding, cross drilled 14.2 inch disc's up front 13.8" in rear.

The E90 M3 comes standard with 18" wheels, with 265/40ZR -18 in rear and 245/40ZR 18 up front, a 19" wheel package is optional on the vehicle

Earlier models are only available with the six speed manual transmission, the new "SMG" dual clutch paddle shifter system is also available as an optional equipment.

With it's 50/50 weight distribution and lightweight materials used in it's construction the BMW m3 is the recipe for unparalleled handling

Available models:
- E92 M3 coupe is the first model off the production line
- E90 M3 sedan, this version is back finally by popular demand, for many of us this is truly the ultimate car as it has the comfort of a four door sedan that's easily comfortable enough to haul a family of four around, yet once you alone the fun starts.
- E93 M3 hardtop convertible, for those of us who prefer to have a convertible and lucky enough to live in an area where weather allows it most of the time, there is no better solution than a retractable hardtop roof that can convert the car into a full coupe in a matter of seconds.

bmw e92 m3 white bmw e92 m3 hood bmw e92 m3 carbon fiber roof

Model #

  • Engine
  • Horse Power
  • Torque
  • 0-60mph
  • Top Speed
  • Fuel Consumption
  • Fuel capacity
  • Gear ratios All models
  • 1/2/3
  • 4/5/6
  • Reverse
  • Final drive ratio
  • Drag
  • Overall length
  • Width front/rear
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Brake diameter F/R

M3 E92 BMW coupe

  • 3999cc 8cyl 32valves
  • 414hp@8300rpm
  • 295ft-lbs@3900rpm
  • 4.7sec
  • 155mph-ltd
  • 14mpg city/20 highway
  • 16.6gallons
  • Manual
  • 4.06/2.40/1.58 : 1
  • 1.19/1.000/0.87 : 1
  • 3.68 : 1
  • 3.85 : 1
  • 77.8 inches/71.5"
  • 181.8 inches
  • 77.8 inches/71.5"
  • 55.6 inches
  • 3704lbs
  • 14.2" 13.8" Ventillated

BMW E90 M3 SEDAN

  • 3999cc V8
  • 414hp@8300rpm
  • 295ft-lbs@3900rpm
  • 4.8sec
  • 155mph-ltd
  • 14mpg city/20mpg highway
  • 16.6 gallons
  • M DCT drivelogic
  • 4.78/2.93/2.15 : 1
  • 1.70/1.39/1.20 : 1
  • 4.45 : 1
  • 3.15 : 1
  • 78.9 inches/71.5"
  • 180.4 inches
  • 78.9 inches/71.5"
  • 57"
  • 3726lbs
  • 14.2" 13.8" Ventillated

E93 M3 convertible

  • 3999cc V8
  • 414@8300rpm
  • 295ft-lbs@3900rpm
  • 5.1sec
  • 155mph-ltd
  • 13mpg city/19mpg highway
  • 16.6 gallons
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • 3.85 : 1
  • 181.69
  • 77.8"
  • 55"
  • 4145lbs
  • 14.2" 13.8" Ventillated


The DRIVE: I have driven many different cars in my life, and even though I am a hardcore fan of the BMW M cars specially the M3 having owned all generations in the past, I think I am still fair if I say there is simply nothing like the E90 BMW M3, of course there are faster cars on the road, but when you put all factors into consideration: comfort, handling, passenger capacity, performance this list gets short really quickly.

Weighing in with just about 300lbs more than the E46 M3, one would think the extra weight will take it's tall on the e90 when compared to the e46 however it's not the case, the new suspension design and the light front end elements push the center of gravity back even more towards the center of the car making up for the V8's extra weight.

bmw e90 m3 front bmw e93 m3 convertible bmw e90 m3 gauges
bmw m3 e93 convertible bmw m3 manual shifter e90 m3 engine

An array of driver selectable settings;
- power button which doesn't actually give extra power like on the BMW M5, makes the throttle response razor sharp.
- adjustable electronic damping control
- M button: M dynamic mode
- and finally the ability to adjust steering assist.

The engine sound is out of this world " you are welcome to experience it by watching the video below " the 414hp monster is in constant need of huge amounts of air, BMW gave it an intake system that gives a headache to the aftermarket community as the e92 / e90 M3 intake is bringing air through 3 different openings for the engine, one being on top on the driver side of the hood, the second picking up air from the kidneys and finally the third on the drivers side bumper opening, so for this reason BMW deleted the fog lights as they did on the E60 M5 and M6, not to say that no system will be available to replace it, but more than likely it will be coming with a price tag no other intake system had before.

How fast? - to simply put it's a trouble maker, clearly the M3 is more a race car than a road car in it's fourth generation, the sound is addicting and for the purist there is no need for a stereo, this time around BMW went all out on the experience, the only problem is..? - the more you push the better it sounds therefore the bigger the ticket. Off the line wickedly fast topping second at 70mph, and you are over a hundred before you even realise. Being a V8 it's not as needy for constant shifting as it has plenty of low end torque.

Handling is outstanding, the rail effect is true more than ever, the E90 BMW M3 is truly friendly uunder most conditions, even with DSC turned off easy to manage turns with power, need to mention here you should be very familiar with the car and your surroundings as I said it's easely managable but not for the inexperienced. Easy to live with in traffic the M3 is not any different in daily driving from regular cars, only the temptation is always there, giving you the upper hand when pulling into any kind of traffic, you wont have to worry about holding up people behind you.

test drive video bmw m3 e90
bmw m3 e90 video frame thumbnail