With the E30 series, BMW produced the first M3 in the years 1986-1991. We do not owe this fact to BMW AG itself, but rather to the FIA (Federation International de l`Automobile). In the 1980s, they decided to re-regulate the individual groups 1 to 6 in which motorsport events take place and to generally introduce the homologation procedure – the approval procedure for participation in these events. Thus, the manufacturers were forced, insofar as they wanted to take part in the individual FIA events, to produce these vehicles with which they wanted to compete in the individual groups as a small series and to sell them to customers. This was done in graduations. For example, group 2 required an edition of 1,000 copies, while group 4 only had to produce 400 exhibits. For the new Group A, in which BMW wanted to participate, 5,000 exhibits of the E30 M3 model series had to be produced within 12 months. The BMW board of directors viewed this venture with skepticism at first, as the final price of the E30 M3 to consumers would cost almost three times as much as a well-equipped 325i from the same series, and there were doubts that buyers would be found for these vehicles. After BMW had printed the first sales brochures for the E30 M3 for the start of the 1987 season in early 1986 and then approached the dealerships to sell them to customers, the first 2396 M3 had already rolled off the assembly line by the end of 1986. By the time production of the M3 E30 was discontinued in 1991, a total of 17,434 BMW M3 E30s (including all special models such as Sport Evolution) had rolled off the assembly line. Then there were 787 BMW E30 M3 convertibles.
The engine of the first BMW M3 was a four cylinder naturally aspirated engine with 2 overhead camshafts with 2.3 and later in the Sport Evolution 2.5 liter displacement. BMW produced this engine with different outputs, with 195 HP, 200 HP, 215 HP, 220 HP and in Sport Evolution even 238 HP.
But the chassis has also been completely rolled up and uncompromisingly designed for sportiness. Comfort wasn’t required. Here the sporty handing was in the foreground. Therefore, the E30 M3 got a much more direct steering and the front axle got even more caster to make the vehicle more stable and safer at high speeds. In Europe, the M3 E30 was only sold with a 5-speed sports transmission, with the 1st gear in the back (where the 2nd gear is normally). This gear, also known as the Dog-Leg Gearbox, was not offered on the American market. Apparently, BMW did not trust the Americans to use this manual transmission and they wanted to, given the possible, to put it cautiously, unusual legal situation
This series of the first M3, the E30 series, topped all success records to this day. To date, no vehicle has clinched as many victories as the BMW M3 E30