Mar 15, 2011

The Ultimate Driving Machine History | BMW 3 series chronicle

Originally, the goal, for designers and engineers of the BMW M3, was to build a powerful and yet lightweight automobile derived from the BMW 3 series. The resulting 5000 examples hand -built by BMW Motorsport culminated with the introduction of the first series, which was based on the E30 platform in 1986 in Europe. The E30 M3 remained in production until 1990 and was replaced in 1992 with the next generation E36 M3.


The E30 M3 quickly became one of the most successful touring cars in history. Equipped with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine with a twin-cam-four valve head with Bosch fuel injection, the E30 M3 hit a top speed of 140 miles per hour and hit zero to sixty in less than 7 seconds. The vehicle weighed only 2850 pounds and had a 5-speed manual transmission.

The E36 M3 was introduced in 1992 in Paris. The engine, known as the S50, was based on the M50TU. Changes included enlarging the bore and stroke, modifying the intake to include individual throttle bodies and adapting a new variable valve timing system on the intake camshaft to the engine. With these modifications, the S50 produced over 280 horsepower. The E36 M3 had a few distinctions from the regular three series including larger anti-roll bars, firmer springs and shocks, 12-inch vented disc brakes and the M-tuned variable-ration steering. The exterior of the E36 M3 varied slightly from the regular three series with a front air dam, deeper side valance panels and aerodynamic side mirrors. When the automobile was introduced in the United States in 1994, it had been modified with what was then known as the S50 B30 USA engine. While the cost had dropped, the US model was only capable of producing 240 horsepower instead of the original 280.


In 1995, BMW offered the M3 offered an automatic transmission and also introduced a Lightweight M3. This model was actually manufactured as a competition vehicle and weighed in 200 pounds less than the original E36 M3. Stripped of it’s air conditioning, radio and rear seat, the 1995 M3 Lightweight only sold 85 models in the United States.

The 1996 model, however, underwent a few radical changes with the addition of a new engine called the S50 B32. Although the European version engine was capable of producing over 320 horsepower, the US version still remained at 240. The transmission was a Getrag six-speed manual that was matted to the engine. Acceleration increased to zero to sixty mph in 5.6 seconds. The model years for the E36 M3 ran from 1992-1999.

Billed as the “third generation” M3, the 2001 M3 Convertible was a four-seater that was identical to the M3 coupe with an automatic soft top. Equipped with a new 333 horsepower engine and a new 6 speed transmission, the 2001 M3 accelerated from zero to 62 mph in 5 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. It wasn’t until this year that US sport car enthusiasts were able to experience the full power of the BMW as the models sold in the US sported the same horsepower as those sold abroad.

BMW 3 series chronicle

At the 2007 Geneva Auto Show BMW introduced the E9X series BMW. The fourth generation M3 is a V8 German muscle car. The car has gained a new V8 engine which can push the car to 60 in 3.9 sec, carbon fiber for weight loss and rigidity and gets a double clutched gear box which reduces the 0-60 time by .02 seconds.

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  • Fourth generation e9x does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds? Where do you get your figures from? It might do that you stick a jet engine on the hood!

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    • Car and Driver got their M3 to 60 in 3.9 second using launch control and the double clutch gear box.

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    • the new M3 with dual clutch transmission achieves those number. Multiple sources have confirmed it so. Look at Car and Driver September 2010 issue. Unless your stating that Car and Driver is an unreliable source you should get your facts straight.

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      • Possibly, though claim that it can only do 4.6 from the dual clutch transmission. Are we saying that BMW is incorrect?

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        • BMW themselves downgrade their M cars so that the M5 and M6 would still sell. Who would buy an M6 when you could buy a M3 for cheaper and better performance? For instance the 335i is rated at 300 HP 300 lb-ft torque on, but in reality if you dyno a BMW 335i it gets around 290 HP and 280 lb-ft torque at the wheels which means at the crank it gets around 350 hp 340 lb-ft torque. Why would BMW not put these figures up? Because then they would lose sales from their M3 because you easily tune a 335i for around 2000 grand by dinan and still have BMW engine warranty and get figures as good if not better then the M3.

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          • Well there we go. I’ve learnt something today.

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          • Glad to help

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  • Ireally like this article. GOOOD JOB

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