In August 1985 German magazines revealed figures for the “fastest ever” BMW 3 Series: 200 PS, a top speed of 230 km/h, 0 to 100 in 6.7 seconds. However, those who were looking forward to it had to hold out until 1986. The legend had begun not only on the street, but also on the circuits, where it achieved success.

Although the project was put on hold for a while, the story of the first M3 began when Eberhard KuenheimCEO of BMW, visited the division of the brand in charge of fine-tuning racing cars and asked paul roschedirector of technical development, a high-performance engine for the series 3. Rosche was fully confident: he had placed the M mechanics on the series 5 and had perfected the turbocharged engine that, in the Brabham BMW, enabled Nelson Piquet win the world championship Formula 1 in 1983.

When he got down to business, the engineer realized that a four-cylinder would make an excellent platform for a sports car, due to its lower weight and high torque. The capacity was increased to 2.3 liters and a successful formula was applied: four valves per cylinder. The modifications lasted barely two weeks, and when they were finished, Rosche brought a car equipped with the mechanics to Kuenheim’s house. He got on, drove it for a while and when he returned he only said: “I like it”. The M3 began its manufacture.

It was intended to compete in races as a Group A, close to production; according to the regulation, at least 5,000 units had to be assembled in 12 consecutive months to receive the homologation. From the start, it was designed with a catalytic converter, even though unleaded gasoline didn’t have much of a reputation among sports engines in the mid-’80s. Even so, the M3 had 195 hp. The tests carried out in the north area of ​​the Nürburgring were very hard and damaged the exhaust system; a change of washers fixed the problem. The car was ready and it was presented to the public at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show. The first tests for the press took place the following spring, in 1986. The BMW offered some spectacular data: with 1,200 kilos, the ratio weight/power It was from 6.15 kg/hp. It reached a top speed of 230km/h (235 km/h without the catalyst) and used less than 9 liters of fuel per 100 km.

It didn’t take long to be on the slopes; In 1987 the first World Touring Car Championship was held, according to BMW, exactly the competition for which the M3 was built. The power of the participating vehicle was 300 CV: at its controls, Roberto Ravaglia was the winner, while other pilots reaped similar successes in the European (with Altfried Heger as the winner) and German (Eric Van dePoele took the title). He also won the Rally of Corsicaexcelled in Monte Carlo and achieved the double in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.

In 1990the second generation of the M3 was already ready. A sleek and sophisticated coupe hit the roads with a six-cylinder engine and 286 hp, 97 for each liter. He performed the 0 to 100 in 6 seconds and top speed was electronically limited to 250km/hwhile its average consumption was 9.1 l/100 km.

This BMW underwent a thorough revision of the chassis and the brakes: the shock absorbers were adjusted and this work was reflected in the height of the model, 31 mm less than in the 3 Series Coupe. The ABS has also been specially calibrated to improve the braking distance; from 100 km/h, the M3 was able to stop in 35 meters.

Of course, the competition version could not be missing, which was developed in record time and participated in the 1993 German Touring Car Championship. Equipped with a 325 hp engine in his car, Johnny Cecotto won the ADAC GT Cup.

A new change took place in 1995, when the M3 adopted modifications to the front end, the wheels and, most importantly, a 3.2-litre, 321-hp engine appeared under the hood. It consumed 8.7 l/100 km and went from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds: performance, as in each evolution, improved. Much of the “fault” was the six-speed manual transmission; in 1997, this section took a new turn with the adoption of the sequential M gearbox (SMG).

The next generation of the model, which debuted in 2000, It had a front spoiler in which the fog lights and larger air intakes had been integrated. The six-cylinder engine already developed 343 hp and again lowered the figure from 0 to 100: 5.2 seconds. He differential lock M, used in the M3 for the first time, also helped increase dynamism. In addition, the second generation of the SMG sequential transmission, with paddles on the steering wheel.

Around this time the M3 GTR appeared, created to pay homage to the vehicle with the same name that was causing a sensation in the American Le Mans Series. Its four-liter V8 engine offered 350 CV, and was associated with a six-speed manual transmission and several elements in carbon fiber reinforced with plastic, a material that began to be used to save weight and that was one of the biggest novelties in the following generation of the car, presented in 2007. Its striking, very light roof lowered the center of gravity, thus improving dynamism even more. Under the hood, a mechanical eight cylinders in “V”with 420 hpallowed reaching 100 km/h from a standstill in just 4.8 seconds, while consumption was 12.4 l/100km. How was this power managed? With the seven-speed M dual-clutch transmission.

The history of the M3, for now, continues with the version gts. But, after 25 years, there are still many more chapters, which are written with the feelings of those lucky enough to have driven one.

Is the M3 one of your dream cars? Have you had the opportunity to climb in one?