The BMW M3 that never existed in Germany


The special model BMW E36 M3 Lightweight, designed only for the US market and limited to 125 pieces

Large rear spoiler, M decor and carbon, but less power! The M3 Lightweight is the rarest version of the official M3 E36 series and was never offered in Germany / Europe!

This BMW M3 was only available in the USA!

We’re talking about the M3 Lightweight, which was never sold in Germany. However, what many do not know is the fact that this M3 Lightweight, or officially called “M3 CSL” at BMW, was not penned by BMW AG or M GmbH. These vehicles were manufactured exclusively for this company on behalf of the company “Proptotype Technology Group (PTG) Racing” in the US state of Virginia, which had ordered these vehicles from BMW North America according to their specifications, and all 126 vehicles were also exclusively supplied to PTG Racing by delivered to BMW. Of the 126 vehicles built, there were 10 so-called pre-series vehicles. In principle, these 10 vehicles were all built in January 1995. The last of these vehicles (actually the number 9/10 from the chassis number) only left the factory in February 1995, although the chassis number had already been received from BMW before vehicle No.9, which according to the production date had already left the factory at the end of January 1995 would have. These 10 so-called pre-series vehicles did not yet have the factory equipment list of the actual M3 Lightweights with the specification special equipment (SA919) (aluminum doors) and the BMW Individual control with the identifier “Special Series M3 US CSL”. This will only happen later for the remaining 116 vehicles built by BMW. These vehicles are therefore very difficult to identify as M3 Lightweight, or rather M3 CSL. However, this can be recognized by the fact that these vehicles do not have any special equipment that is actually typical for the USA, but only have the number SA783 (M forged wheel double-spoke styling) as special equipment. These first 10 pre-series vehicles were then finally manufactured by PTG Racing in Virginia USA to see which changes PTG made for their end customer project “Lightweight”, which were intended for motorsport use by end customers, during production at the BMW plant can be done automatically. The 11th vehicle was built in April 1995 and is also the first vehicle that has the complete production and equipment list with SA919 (aluminum doors) and control BMW Individual “Special Series M3 US CSL”. The remaining 115 vehicles were built by BMW at the Regensburg plant between August and October 1995.


The new price of an M3 Lightweight (M3 CSL) was



All 126 vehicles left the factory without having installed the M3 GT (M3 Lightweight) specific parts on the vehicle. The M-Technik rear spoiler was installed ex works and not the large rear wing:

Therefore, all lightweights in the trunk have 2 holes on the right and left in the fold, which can be seen if the 2-part rear spoiler is installed, as well as another large hole in the tailgate structure:


This is what the tailgate looked like when it was delivered from the BMW factory:

In addition, another hole had to be drilled in the middle of the top of the tailgate in order to be able to connect the cables of the 3rd brake light, which had to be installed according to the approval regulations for the USA. However, this 3rd brake light was not present in the supplied multi-part spoilers from the factory, since these spoilers came from the M3 GT intended for the European market, which did not have a 3rd brake light and the PTG company had this 3rd brake light in all 126 spoilers Manually inserted into the supplied rear spoiler afterwards. So this looks like… fitted with a box cutter in the workshop at the vocational school….

This multi-piece rear spoiler with integrated 3rd brake light was only available ex works from 1997, when it was required for the special model of the E36 “Clubsport” and for the special model “M3 GT EVO Individual”, which was limited to only 50 pieces and was only available in the United Kingdom . All spoilers (M3 GT, M3 GT Individual, M3 Lightweight (M3 CSL), M3 GT EVO Individual and the NOT! M3 special model “Clubsport”, which was only available as 318is, 320i, 323i and 328i, were declared bankrupt by the 2001 made by the company PFEBA.


All Lightweight-specific parts (individually adjustable front splitter with 3 brackets and mounting material, multi-part rear spoiler with spacers, 2 drilling templates with mounting kit, 2 so-called Gurney Flapy, stiffening cross (as with the E36 convertible), sealed oil pan with pipes and oil pump) were in a separate box with the express note that the factory warranty is immediately null and void if these components are installed.







All 126 vehicles were delivered by BMW North America to the company PTG and from there later to the BMW dealers in North America who had ordered such a vehicle for themselves or a customer.


These customers who bought these vehicles received this letter from PTG at the official vehicle handover:



However, the lightweight has a catch!


In 1995 Europe had the M3 GT in the E36 series and the USA had the M3 Lightweight. While the M3 GT, built 356 times, was only available in British Racing Green – with one exception – (color code 312), all M3 LTWs were delivered in plain alpine white (color code 146). The US special model is visually recognizable primarily through the multi-part rear wing (also had the GT) and the checkered flag decoration in the typical M colors. But that’s not all! As the name suggests, BMW placed great emphasis on lightweight construction and weight reduction – the doors, like the M3 GT designed for the European market, are also made of aluminum and the 17-inch forged wheels (all around 235/40 R17 ), the E36 M3 GT sold in Europe had mixed tires 235/45 17 and 255/40 17 on 7 ½ and 8 ½ x 17 forged wheels and saved a few pounds.

It gets really extreme in the interior: in contrast to the European or better “rest of the world” manufactured M3 GT, air conditioning and sunroof were just as unavailable as a radio (preparation available) or an alarm system. In addition, BMW has even changed the carpet and saved additional insulation material. In the end, the LTW weighed 1338 kilos, while the M3 GT weighed over 100 kilos more at 1460 kilos. But the European special model has significantly more power!

US M3 with its own engine and less power

What few people know: The US version of the M3 E36 had a different engine than the M3 offered in Europe. Between 1992 and 1995, the S50B30 in-line six-cylinder engine with 286 hp (296 hp in the M3 GT) was installed. From the end of 1995, the 3.2-litre S50B32 with 321 hp and 350 Nm (but not in the M3 GT) was used. In the USA, on the other hand, the M3 engine (S50B30US), later S50B32US (facelift in the USA) was based on the M50B25 from the 325i, which had been bored out to three liters. The result: Instead of 286 hp, the US version has just 243 hp – so it was significantly weaker. From the end of 1995, the American M3 also got a larger engine (S50B32US). But what was the reason?!

Well this question is easy to answer; BMW North America took the view that the engine would be too complex and ultimately too expensive for the American market, especially since the design-related construction would necessitate considerable additional costs in addition to the actual engine in order to comply with the strict emission standards in the USA. which would ultimately make the vehicle too expensive compared to its competitors on the market.

The US M3 engines S50B30US and S50B32US therefore had to do without typical M features such as individual throttle valves, high-pressure VANOS and bucket tappets due to the stricter exhaust gas regulations in the United States. So the performance – despite the larger displacement of the S50B32US – remained at a meager 243 hp.

Despite the lightweight construction, the top speed of the M3 Lightweight is just 234 km / h, and that’s only because the Vmax limit of 220 km / h has been lifted on the special model. Thanks to the shorter gear ratio (3.23 instead of 3.15), the sprint to 100 km / h should only take 5.3 seconds. This special model is not about the pure values, but rather about the driving experience and the LTW should convince there, because many BMW enthusiasts consider the white special model to be the best version of the M3 E36.

Changes from the BMW M3 Lightweight to the base model BMW M3 US:

– Alpine white uni paint with flag pattern in M ​​colors on the left bow and right stern
– Aerodynamic package supplemented by adjustable front spoiler and multi-part rear wing with third brake light
– Strut brace on the front axle
– Cross brace on the front underbody
– aluminum doors
– Suspension springs in a harder version
– Forged wheels in 7.5Jx17 front / 8.5Jx17 rear with 235/40 R 17 all around
– Engine oil supply with new oil pump system
– Vmax deregulation (otherwise 220 km / h)
– no sunroof selectable
– no air conditioning selectable
– no radio (preparation available)
– No alarm system (preparation available)
– Rear axle drive with ratio 3.23: 1
– Carbon fiber strips on the dashboard, center console and door panel
– Motorsport International marking on the dashboard and side bumper strips


Market prices and price development:


Regarding the market price assessment, it remains to be said that this is very difficult to assess. In 2008, the prices were still around US$15-18,000 because, on the one hand, very few people even knew what an M3 Lightweight or M3 CSL actually is, or didn’t know what this concept was all about. Buyers saw only the spartan equipment (No sunroof, and the vehicle’s complete lack of air conditioning, which is generally considered a “NO GO” in the US, makes this even more difficult. Nobody wanted such an “unequipped” vehicle when you for the same money or even less could have the same powerful vehicle with all amenities such as air conditioning, radio with CD changer, heated leather seats and sunroof.

With this market situation, the Proptotype Technology Group (PTG) company also had racing in 1995 when they launched the M3 Lightweight or M3 CSL. They had hoped to be able to sell significantly more vehicles of this type to purists and end customers than just these 126 vehicles that were built by BMW on behalf of PTG. These vehicles were very difficult to sell on the market. Actually it was a failure!

However, this market situation then changed when it became known, among other things, that celebrities owned these vehicles and that the limited number of these vehicles became more public. On March 19, 2020, a completely rusted through M3 Lightweight (M3 CSL) in need of restoration was sold at a price of





Here is the advertisement from March 19, 20020 as a PDF (16 pages):

1995 BMW M3 Lightweight – German Cars For Sale Blog

A well-equipped US E36 M3 in good, rust-free general condition is still available (as of August 2020) from US$ 12,000. At the latest since the auction of the 5 M3 Lightweight (M3 CSL) vehicles of the late actor Paul Walker, which changed hands between 160,000 and 350,000 US $, certainly because of the prominent previous owner, the demand for these vehicles has been so great that currently (stand December 2022) such a vehicle in mediocre condition cannot be had for less than US$ 100,000. In plain language, this means that the times when such a vehicle was still available for US$ 18,000 are long gone and this train has long since left! Due to demand, these vehicles will continue to become more and more expensive in the future!

This applies above all to the Lightweight (M3 CSL) specific parts, which have not been produced since PFEBA went bankrupt in 2001.



Nevertheless, it remains to be said that the specific parts of the Light wight in the USA, if they are offered at all, are sold to enthusiasts at astronomical prices. The rear spoiler with spacers and the so-called Gurney flaps are sometimes offered at prices of up to US $ 30,000, as the following offer on Ebay USA shows:




The well-known actor Paul Walker was one of these enthusiast


Paul Walker had five BMW M3 Lightweights

While BMW was struggling to sell the special model 24 years ago, the M3 Lightweight is now a sought-after collector’s item, which usually easily achieves six-figure prices. Most recently, one of the 126 M3s was even auctioned for the equivalent of 136,000 euros (150,000 US dollars). At the Barrett Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, five rare M3 Lightweights were auctioned in January 2020, all of which had the same prominent previous owner: actor Paul Walker;

Paul Walker’s M3 auctioned for € 350,000



Six years after his death, 21 cars from the actor’s estate are being auctioned off. Including a movie car and seven BMW M3s.









It’s been six years since actor Paul Walker had a fatal accident. The actor, made famous by the film series “Fast and Furious”, died in an industrial park in Santa Clarita, California, as a passenger in an accident in a Porsche Carrera GT. Walker was a car enthusiast and passionate collector who raced himself and put together a sizeable collection of cars during his far too short life. This was auctioned in January: Barrett-Jackson Auctions brings 21 cars from the Paul Walker collection up for auction at the traditional event in Scottsdale.

Almost 100,000 euros for a 10 year old Nissan

The first thing that went under the hammer at auction was a movie car; The 2009 Nissan 370Z known from the fifth part of the Fast and Furios series. Right at the beginning of the auction, the highest bidder paid almost € 100,000 for the more than ten-year-old coupe from a prominent previous owner. The car had just 2,623 miles, that’s the equivalent of 4,221 km on the clock. In terms of performance, the Nissan was only standard with the 3.7 liter V6 engine with 337 hp and 5-speed manual transmission.

Paul Walker’s vehicle collection was quite BMW-heavy: seven M3s and one motorcycle are going under the hammer in the US state of Arizona. The M3 are divided into two E30s and five E36s. The latter without exception in the lightweight version (LTW) available only in the USA and in white paintwork with dark blue, light blue and red M checkered flag decoration, of which only 125 copies were built. Almost all of the M3 LTWs have the aggressive front and large rear spoilers and, with a curb weight of around 1,340 kilograms, weigh over 100 kilograms less than the standard M3. However, they also have less power: US customers had to be content with 243 hp, while the E36 M3 GT in Europe made 296 hp. The reason was the strict emissions regulations in the USA, which is why BMW developed a US version of the S50B30 in-line six and linked it to the manual five-speed gearbox.

One bidder paid US $ 385,000 for one of the five lightweight M3s. That was the equivalent of 346,500 euros at the time (454,000 euros at today’s rate). The other four Lightweigt M3s brought in between $ 220,000 and 258,500 (198,000 to 232,650 euros at the rate at the time). The cheapest of these, however, does not have the large front and rear wings, comes without the three-color M accents and has run 34,440 miles (approx. 55,000 kilometers). The most expensive has a mileage of 4600 miles, which corresponds to 7360 kilometers. The two M3 E30s went for $ 220,000 and $ 165,000. The two white two-door models have 7644 and 32,269 miles on the clock. That is 12,230 and 51,630 kilometers. In the USA only 5115 E30-M3s were sold, which however had some technical differences to the “rest of the world” E30 M3; one of the most striking differences was the manual transmission. While he “rest of the world” received the so-called dog-leg gearbox, with 1st gear in the rear and the shift pattern correspondingly different), BMW did not trust the Americans to use this gearbox, which is why BMW chose this gearbox in the US Vehicles would rather do without.

Paul Walker lived his passion for racing mainly in Porsche models. In 2013, however, the actor apparently wanted a new track tool and bought a Ford Mustang Boss 302S racing car. Unfortunately, Walker died before he could use the coupe for the first time. The five-liter V8 engine was optimized by Ford Racing, among other things with the in-house PCS software and a host of other official tuning components. Power is transmitted via a 6-speed manual transmission with an Exedy clutch and Torsen T2R differential.