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The Legendary BMW M3 E30: Part 2

Submitted by on March 20, 2023

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

We continue our story about the legendary BMW M3 E30 by looking back at its participation in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft / German Touring Car Championship).

BMW captured two DTM titles with the M3 E30, in 1987 and 1989. Eric van de Poele won the championship in 1987 with Zakspeed BMW. Roberto Ravaglia won the second title in 1989 with BMW M Team Schnitzer. The success of the M3 was overwhelming and in addition to the two DTM titles, the Australian Manufacturers’ Championship in 1987 and 1988, the car also won the following championships:

AMSCAR (Amaroo Saloon Cars) Series

  • 1987 Jim Richards – JPS Team BMW
  • 1991 Tony Longhurst – LoGaMo Racing

Australian Touring Car Championship

  • 1987 Jim Richards – JPS Team BMW

Australian 2.0 Litre Touring Car Championship

  • 1993 Tony Longhurst – LoGaMo Racing

BTCC (British Touring Car Championship)

  • 1988 James Weaver B-class – BMW Finance Racing with Mobil 1
  • 1991 Will Hoy – BMW Team Listerine

Campionato Italiano (Super) Turismo

  • 1987 Michele di Gioia
  • 1989 Johnny Cecotto
  • 1990 Roberto Ravaglia
  • 1991 Roberto Ravaglia

Championat de France de Supertourisme

  • 1987 Fabien Giroix
  • 1988 Jean-Pierre Malcher
  • 1989 Jean-Pierre Malcher
  • 1990 Jean-Pierre Malcher

Irish Tarmac Rally Championship

  • 1990 Bertie Fischer-Rory Kennedy

The M3 competed against the Mercedes 190E in Group A events. Equipped with the 2.3 litre engine, around 300 horsepower was available. When BMW introduced the upgraded 2.5 litre engine, this increased horsepower to close to 380.

The engine of the M3 E30 is not only an acoustic experience. The maximum torque at 10,000 revolutions per minute is achieved in phases. Around 6,000 rpm it is very noticeable that there is much more to come from the engine and from 8000 rpm the S14 engine really kicks into gear.

The M3 E30 won the notorious 24 Hours of the Nürburgring no less than five times. Team Bigazzi won the race in 1989, followed by Linder Motorsport in 1990. Schnitzer Motorsport claimed the win in the toughest 24 hour race in the world back in 1991, as Team Bigazzi claimed it for the second time in 1992. In 1994, Karl-Heinz Wlazik, Frank Katthöfer and Fred Rosterg won the race as a private entry.

Besides the smashing victories at the Nürburgring, the M3 E30 crossed the finish line first in the Spa 24 Hours no less than four times. Waterloo Motors grabbed the honours in 1987 followed by BMW Motorsport in 1988 and BMW M Team Schnitzer in 1990. In 1992 Team Bigazzi won the famous race on the Ardennes rollercoaster.

However, the successes achieved as a touring car were in stark contrast to the use of the M3 E30 in rallies. Nevertheless, a privately entered M3 E30 won an important World Championship rally during the Tour de Corse in 1987. Rothmans BMW Motul Team entered the event with a M3 E30 run by British company Prodrive. On gravel and snow, the M3 lost out to four-wheel drive cars, including the Lancia Delta Integrale and the Audi 200 Quattro. However, Frenchman Bernard Beguin turned out to be unbeatable on the asphalt of Corsica with his navigator Jean-Jacques Lenne. It would also be the only victory of an M3 E30 ever in a World Championship rally.

The BMW M3 E30 is one of the true legends to come from the M division, a car that left an indelible mark on the world of touring car racing. It is without doubt a BMW model that put the M division on the map.

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