The BMW M3 celebrates its 30th birthday this year. Unlike most thirty-year-olds, it’s not having a crisis of confidence – after all these years the E30 is still regarded as one of the finest driving machines to come from BMW, if not the best.
With beautiful handling, a revtastic normally aspirated four-cylinder engine and chiselled good looks, it was already a tasty recipe on the road. It was a car that rewarded the enthusiast driver, lapping up being wrung by the neck on the twistiest of tarmac.
Its on-track success also played a key part. Touring car legends such as Steve Soper, Roberto Ravaglia, Frank Sytner, James Weaver and Jonny Ceccoto piloted the E30 to wins in national, European and world touring car championships.
The BMW M3 Sport Evolution, pictured here, represents the further honing of that all-conquering formula, all in the name of maintaining the E30’s stranglehold in touring car racing. A bigger displacement (2.5 litres) new camshaft, pistons and intake system helped liberate more power, while the weight was trimmed with a lighter flywheel, bootlid, windows, and bumpers. The body was pumped up with box arches to allow the racers to run more sophisticated tyres and suspension components, and the gearbox was now a close-ratio Getrag five-speed and a limited-slip differential. To add to the specialness, just 600 were built. As such, it’s a rare sight, with many ending their days tickling the barriers at the Nurburgring in the Nineties.