Words by Barry Robinson
As soon as I took my first drive in the E30 M3 I knew it was perfect for me. Here’s a piece of BMW Motorsport machinery you can drive on the street, from an era where most of the cars on the road were extremely conservative. It still looks amazing today, everything serves a purpose on the car, the interior layout is the same as it’s 3-series brethren but the red needles and a little ///M badge in the middle of the instrument cluster points out that this is a different car altogether. The best feature of the exterior of the M3 has got to be the box flared fenders, on the inside it’s the sports seats which are very effective at supporting you, especially for stock items. The functional enhancements to make the M3 suitable for racing really shine through all over the car.
Do not drive this car like a 325i. The M3 begs to be driven on the limit, It’s a little uninspiring otherwise. But this is exactly how the engine was designed, to deliver everything in the upper echelons, on the racetrack that is where it spent all of it’s life, while battling with the Ford Sierra Cosworth and Mercedes 190 Cosworth touring cars. The S14 engine likes to turn over a couple of times before firing up. When it does, the sound of the engine is quickly drowned out by the deep throaty exhaust note, even with the stock system. It’s common to hear some timing chain noise, due to an old unprimed tensioner, but that disappears as the oil pressure builds up. Upgraded S52 tensioners can been used to remedy this problem. These cars tend to be a little noisy and lazy when cold, then again you don’t want to push them too hard. Everything needs to get up to temp before the engine feels right at home in the upper rev range. Oil level and pressure is critical on the S14 so don’t neglect to check them. It’s important to install an oil pan baffle when you do any spirited driving.
I love this car and what it represents. BMW Motorsport built a true homologation special from a chassis known as a “Yuppie” car and created the most successful touring car of all time. It’s the original M3. It wasn’t built for sales, it was built for racing. When you are buying an E30 M3 you become a custodian of a piece of BMW Motorsport history, because the connection is so strong between the road car and touring car legend.Full owners experience can be found in the magazine.
Why buy one?
★The original BMW M3, the one that started it all.
★Simple design and subtle enhancements make this an iconic car.
★Motorsport success right from the outset in touring car championships across Europe ensure it has a huge fan base.
Full list of reasons to buy can be found in the magazine.
Full production history of the car can be found in the magazine.
Full analysis and advice of the ideal specification can be found in the magazine.
Prices start at around £15,000 and go up to £100,000 for low mileage M3 Sport Evolution models. As you can
see prices vary considerably, with a significant premium paid for limited edition models, the most popular being the run out Sport Evolution. Our recommendation is to find an immaculate standard or limited edition model within your budget, in original specification with a complete service history. Prices are expected to remain strong for the foreseeable future. Full valuation details and examples on the market found in the magazine.
The original M3 is a relatively simple and lightweight car so parts prices are affordable. Some parts are also shared with other E30 models which also keeps the costs down. Despite the age of the car, parts are readily available from both BMW and specialist suppliers. Full breakdown of prices can be found in the magazine.
The four cylinder S14 engine is race bred and built to withstand fast road use. The valves need periodic
adjustment, check that there is evidence of this work. Check that the timing chain has been replaced within
the last few years, if not get it changed. If it snaps then it will cause a huge amount of internal engine damage. Many will have had the timing chain tensioner replaced with the later E36 M3 version, which prolongs the life of the chain by preventing backlash on startup. Look for any leaks from the oil sump underneath the car. Full breakdown of buyers checkpoints for engine, clutch, gearbox, steering, suspension, brakes, wheels, tyres and servicing schedule can be found in the magazine.
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