BMW M3 (1986)

In 1986 the BMW M3 was born, it was created to compete in the races and high speed rallies of the Group A competitions, which was open only to "nearly stock production cars".

To qualify for Group A recognition the car must have at least 4 full sized seats and there must be at least 5000 production cars made in a year.

While most of the manufacturers would enter cars that had been heavily modified for the competitions some car makers would build from the ground up a new vehicle that would represent the make and model. They would then have to find buyers for the 5000 high performance specials. The manufacturers who did this included BMW, Ford (Europe) and Lancia.

Although the M3 was immediately competitive it was dominated by the more powerful Ford Sierra RS Cosworths.

The M3 used the 2.3 litre 4 cylinder instead of the 2.5 litre 6 sylinder. The 4 pot was chosen as a derivative of their Formula 1 racing engine. The spec was alloy cylinder head, double overhead camshafts, 4 valves per cylinder and Bosch fuel injection. Even when tuned as a road car this engine pushed out a not inconsiderable 192 horsepower. Pretty good for a 2.3 litre.

With the 5 speed Getrag gearbox the M3 was a real autobahn stormer rather than cruiser and it showed in the way the car behaved. Steering was power assisted but really tuned for high speeds, the high compression race bred engine had a real rasp above 3500rpm. And the engine begs to be taken beyond this point, being happier at high revs. The handling is very well balanced and the braking is superb and with this the car as a whole is one of the ultimate road cars.

Standard features of the M3 include a premium stereo system, air conditioning, leather sports seats and trip computer.

Specifications are:

Weight - 2865lbs
Engine displacement - 2.3litre
Horsepower - 192 @ 6750
Torque - 170lbs.ft @ 4750

Top speed - 143mph
0-60 time - 7.6 seconds
quarter mile - 15.4 seconds.

S. Cookson


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