BMW M3 E30: the first and only

“Autovrubler” begins a series of exclusive test drives with the participation of legendary classic cars, the creation of which at one time put the ears of the entire automotive community. This time we will talk about the German sports car, which literally erased the border between a civil car and a racing car …

Of all the variety of modern models of BMW c label “M” sometimes you can not understand which car really belongs to the clan of these M-models. After all, before this designation was awarded only the best of the best. And what was the first “emka”?

The history of the first production car with the letter “M” (not to be confused with the M1 sports car) began in the 80s of the last century, when the racing department of BMW Motorsport needed a car with a very powerful and reliable atmospheric engine to participate in the ring body race. Naturally, over the base for a long time did not think – the choice fell on the “trash” in the body of the E30. But the engine had to be developed almost from scratch: for this engineer Paul Roche took the previously developed it the same six-cylinder unit (from the M1 sports car) and transplanted its entire stuffing into a four-cylinder engine from the standard third series. As a result, we got a 2.3-liter atmospheric “four” with a capacity of 200 “horses” and 245 Nm of torque, which took an honorable place under the hood of the serial BMW M3 of the first generation.

To turn a civilian “emk” into a ring car of group A, the engineers only needed to equip it with racing equipment (safety cage, sports suspension, wheel attachments with one nut, etc.) and force the engine to 300 forces. And all, imagine! That’s why many call the serial M3 E30 the only real M-model: only it was so close to the world of racing.

Atmospheric charge

… Two championship titles in the WTCC ring races, as many in the DTM championship plus more than one and a half thousand other victories in various racing championships of the 80s. I scroll through the head of the achievements of the racing M3 E30, while studying the salon of the civilian “emki”. I was lucky: the owner of the car (the co-founder of the capital’s auto club “Veterok” ) left me alone with this car for the whole day – say, this is not some modern tin, this technique needs to be understood and felt.

And the M3 E30 of the very first 1986 year of release came to me. This copy has not only survived to our days, but it’s amazing how it feels: all systems work, and details are new, or, as they say, ideally. A rare rarity!

Despite the fact that the car is 30 years old, the interior does not feel retro. Yes, the interior is slightly condominious, but in general everything is clear and familiar: it is a classic low landing, nice-looking plastic, large dials of “gadgets”, there is all the necessary electronics along with the on-board computer, which is traditionally for BMW controlled by a button on the left paddle lever. Of all the decorations, only a three-spoke sports steering wheel with a tricolor and a lever of the five-speed mechanic Getrag, which are trimmed with a pleasant to the touch, are distinguished.

… I squeeze the clutch and for a while “stick” in the search for the algorithm for switching on the first gear: it turned out that you need to slightly pull the gearshift lever to the left, and then lower it down. This is done in order to put in a single row the so-called “working” transmissions (the second is from the top and the third is from the bottom) is purely a racing trick, created for convenience and shortening the switching time.

Really convenient! Full gas “stretch” the engine under its pleasant howling mechanical roar (listen to the audio recording with the sound of the motor in the case) and I drive in the third transfer by one movement of the lever down. At the same time, it is possible and even necessary to twist the atmospheric at each stage to the cut-off point (6,750 rpm). The engine is sharpened at high speeds: on “bottoms” it sleeps with a sound sleep and only somewhere after 4 500 rpm wakes up, starting to briskly forward 1 200-kilogram sedan. Of course, the seat does not “smear”, but still for two hundred atmospheric “horses” the dynamics are decent. The engine is not easy: for each of the four “pots” there are four valves, as well as a separate throttle and a fuel injector of mechanical injection. And if it’s easier – a compact unit, which contains almost all the most effective technology of the 80s of the last century.


For engineers of BMW Motorsport to put such a motor in the usual “treshka” would be a crime, so the standard chassis is well-modified: widened the track and replaced most of the suspension elements.

To feel the racing genes rear-wheel drive “lighters”, enough and a couple of turns. “Muzzle” of the car is relatively light (the engine weighs only 106 kg), but this does not mean that in the turns the front wheels do not have sufficient grip. After all, the engine is placed longitudinally above the axle, and the front suspension pillars are slightly more littered towards the driver, so even with frank provocations on my side the front end does not slip outward and does not require extra steering adjustments. In addition, to open the full gas on the M3 E30 can almost be in the middle of the turn – the inter-wheel self-locking differential equally provides traction both rear wheels, allowing faster exit from the bend. And all this is just a precisely tuned mechanic without any insurance electronics.

However, do not forget that the “emka” is primarily a city car. Despite the fact that the suspension of the M3 E30 is understated and has more rigid silentblocks, it is quite loyal to passengers in a smooth ride. At least according to the metropolitan roads the car rolls without annoying vibrations and tremors (thanks to the aluminum levers of the front suspension and the “comfortable” Bilstein racks). And to a quiet mode of movement, by the way, the 4th and 5th gears are perfectly suited here, allowing the ears to relax from the high-speed ringing of the engine, and the driver – to enjoy your favorite tracks from the CD-ROM.

BMW M3 E30 – this is the case when the phrase “adapted to public roads race car” is really appropriate. It seems that the first “emk” was created by people who, like the newly-made US president, rarely lose, almost never …

Price list

In Russia, the BMW M3 E30 in good condition can be purchased only from private collectors (on popular Internet sites for the sale of cars such machines do not). If you’re lucky, the “emka” will cost about 2.5-3 million rubles. Of course, you can drive a car from Germany and customs clearance (there are many options), but then it will cost somewhere in 5 000 000 rubles.

Alexey Dergachev