From the GRM Vault: Our First Drive of the Original BMW M3

By Staff Writer
May 29, 2017 | BMW | Posted in Features | Never miss an article

This story comes from all the way back in 1989—back then our magazine was called Auto-X. So we had to march back to our archives, pick out the magazine and then dig out the scanner.

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BMW E30 M3

BMW E30 M3 BMW E30 M3 BMW E30 M3 BMW E30 M3

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View comments on the GRM forums
jstein77 UltraDork
5/23/17 10:12 a.m.

I participated in that test, which took place in Valkaria. The impression I most clearly remember is the lack of low-end torque; the first M3 made all its power above 6000 rpm. I wrote an article on a Mazda MX-6 for that year, which had tons of torque from 3000 - 5000 rpm, and used the M3 as a comparison in my article.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/23/17 3:52 p.m.

Hopefully everyone's enjoying these old articles. It's been fun going through the archives to select them.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/24/17 11:11 a.m.

And we have some other neat "first drives" in the queue.

Also coming up: an article that asks if mini trucks are part of our future.

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
5/24/17 12:46 p.m.

I'm the guy who made the "ultimate safety car" comment back then. At the time it was the most wonderful car I had driven. As an old (in many ways) BMW fan - my first new car was a 2002 - I still consider the first M3 as the car I would most like to own. Unfortunately, when they were affordable I didn't have the disposable income, and now that I'm in a somewhat better place, I can't afford them, so I'll continue to dream.

Our test car was the first car I drove with really good antilock brakes. I remember driving down this narrow back road with Tim in the passenger seat telling me to take it up to about (insert an imaginary speed here, since we certainly don't do such things on public roads) and stand on the brakes. I was literally amazed. We had a bunch of cars to test that weekend (long story), but the one that has stuck in my mind over the years is the M3. Later versions were faster, but the original was, in my mind, the one I longed for.

Toebra HalfDork
5/24/17 1:48 p.m.

Friend of mine had a graymarket one of those back in 1989, Evo or something. Sweet little car, surprisingly fast 4 banger.

Shaun GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/24/17 1:49 p.m.

Interesting read and posts. I love them and remember how purposeful they looked when i first saw them and they still look the part. I really like any road car with an upright windshields and glasshouse as on the open road seeing the open is half the fun. Cool!

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
5/24/17 1:55 p.m.

And it has factory box flares!!

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/25/17 2:31 p.m.
Jim Pettengill wrote: And it has factory box flares!!


Freshman year in college, I had a classmate who had one--and this was in 1988 so, um, yeah. He once gave me a lift back to my dorm.

LanEvo Reader
5/27/17 1:13 p.m.

As a former E30 fanatic, one-time M3 owner, and current 190E 2.3-16 fanatic ... I can honestly say the Mercedes in stock form will give you 90% of the driving experience of the M3. With a few mods, they're too close to call.

If you've missed the boat on E30 M3 ownership, pick up a W201 16v before it's too late. The supply of good cars stateside had pretty much dried up, and prices have been shooting up in Europe. Get a Euro 2.5L while you still can!

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