With the first model introduced in 1985, the BMW M3 turns 25 this year, so the German automaker has released some statistics for their iconic piece of automotive history.
The first BMW M3 packed 200 HP and exceeded speeds of 230 Km/h as it needed 6.7 seconds to hit 100 Km/h from a stand still. The car became the most successful touring car in motor sport history with the most recent achievement being the top podium position at this year’s Nurburgring 24 hours endurance race.
What is also interesting is that the first 2.3-litre 4-cylinder engine used by the BMW M3 which featured four-valve engineering was created withing two weeks, bearing the code name S14, and generated headlines in sport and mas-production over the next following years.
For the whole story on how the first BMW M3 came to life check out the official press release below.
BMW press release :
The anticipation began in August 1985. That summer Germany’s
automobile magazines built up their readers’ expectations for
the fastest 3 Series BMW of all times. The key data revealed a sports
car that would punch way above its class: 200 hp, top speed in excess
of 230 km/h, sprint from a standing start to 100 km/h inside 6.7
seconds. However, the story was that “the most dynamic BMW 3
Series drivers” would have to wait until mid-1986. The pundits
were right on that count. But one prediction missed the mark by a
mile: anyone who “wants to be in the A Team needs to be
turbocharged under the bonnet”. Not true.
The BMW M3 became the most successful touring car in motor-sport
history. The M3 project was launched just a few months earlier.
Production of the M1 mid-engine sports car had already been
discontinued for some time and BMW CEO Eberhard Kuenheim commissioned
a design for a successor, almost as an aside, according to legend.
After one of his regular visits to Motorsport GmbH in Munich’s
Preußenstraße he said, almost as he was leaving:
“Mr. Rosche, we need a sporty engine for the 3 Series.”
His aspiration was in good hands. Motorsport GmbH with its managing
director of technical development Paul Rosche had demonstrated its
expertise with the legendary 5 Series saloons driven by M engines as
well as developing the Formula 1 turbo engine that powered Brazilian
Nelson Piquet to win the World Championship in the Brabham BMW in
The new 3 Series engine had something in common with this: the
crankcase. It originated from volume production and actually formed
the basis for the two-litre engine with four cylinders. Four cylinders
meant less weight and high torque, an ideal platform for a sports
engine in the projected displacement class. Naturally enough, the
series four-cylinder engine was much too tame for a sports engine. A
comprehensive power boost was called for in order to turn the plucky
daily workhorse into an athletic and sporty power unit. The BMW design
engineers increased the displacement to 2.3 litres and applied a
formulation that had already achieved significant successes over a
period of many years: four-valve engineering. There was also another
reason for the decision to opt for a four-cylinder engine and not
adopt the six-cylinder engine introduced in the BMW 3 Series. The
longer crankshaft in the big engine started to vibrate much earlier
than the shorter four-cylinder shaft. The design engineers therefore
designed the crankshaft drive of the BMW M3 with sufficient torsional
stability to achieve 10,000 revolutions a minute and more. By
comparison with the four-cylinder engine installed in the series
vehicles, this represented an increase of more than 60 percent. The
rated speed for the road version of the BMW M3 was still significantly
below the critical range at 6,750/min and therefore offered sufficient
scope for further developments.
Paul Rosche recalls: “We started work immediately. One
advantage was that the big six-cylinder engine originally had the same
cylinder gap as the four-cylinder engine. We therefore cut two
combustion chambers off the four-cylinder head of the M88 and bolted a
panel over the hole on the rear side.” This meant that the new
four-cylinder engine had a second forebear. The six-cylinder engine
that had initially created a sensation in the M1 and had meanwhile
transformed the M635CSi into one of the fastest coupés in the
world. Paul Rosche: “Whether you believe it or not – we
had created an outstanding four-cylinder engine for the 3 Series
within the space of two weeks. Under the development name S14, this
engine was to generate headlines in sport and in volume production
over the years to come. One Sunday, I drove to von Kuenheim’s
flat and gave him the car for a test drive. When he came back he said:
‘Good, I like it.’ And that’s how the M3 came into being."