UK-supplied E30 BMW M3 for sale
Icons come no more iconic – and in BMW M's big birthday year, too…
By Matt Bird / Tuesday, January 11, 2022 / Loading comments
You’ve probably heard that BMW M celebrates a significant anniversary this year, as 2022 is 50 years since the formation of the motorsport division. First established to create dominant touring cars (the CSL won six out of its first seven ETCC championships entered), BMW M has become, of course, legendary in the five decades since for some epic road cars as well.
Hopefully we can expect a couple more over the next 12 months, with an M3 Touring confirmed and a CSL-style M4 seemingly in development. There will also be the Vision XM, blundering into the party like the drunk uncle nobody invited. But no birthday is perfect. If XM is the price we pay for an M3 Touring, then so be it.
However the new M cars turn out for 2022, you can guarantee there’s one classic model that will be talked about plenty over the coming weeks and months. The E30 M3 was not the first M car, nor even the first front-engined one, as the E28 M5 went into production a few months beforehand. But mention classic M cars and it won’t be long before the original M3 is discussed at considerable length.
You likely know the story. BMW craved yet more touring car success, and so a 3 Series was built to satisfy DTM homologation requirements. But the E30 M3 enjoyed rather more than some success; in addition to the German championship so desired (1987 and 1989), there were tin-top titles in Britain, Australia, Italy and across the world – in Japan an E30 M3 won its touring car class seven times in a row from 1987 to 1993.
The resulting road car, of course, was one of the greatest BMWs ever, the power of the S14 four-cylinder engine combining with the E30’s chassis to incredible effect. Later Evolutions brought bigger 2.5-litre engines, but every four-cylinder M3 with a roof was a memorable drive. The Convertible probably was as well, but for different reasons.
Such notoriety has ensured the cheap E30 M3 hasn’t existed for a very long time. In fact, nothing better illustrates the terrifying surge in used car prices over the past few years quite like the baby Beemer. In 2012 an early car that needed some bodywork was £16k – and then it all went a bit barmy. Yes, it was predicted and, yes, the M3 wasn’t the only car to appreciate, but the rise really has been startling. Wait until you see the one for sale at £190,000…
So, unfortunately, this isn’t a story about how E30s are suddenly in reach for everyone again just in time for the 50th. This one is £75k, or near enough exactly the money asked for a new G80 M3. Sorry about that. Instead, we can celebrate what a lovely example this is. Aficionados will tell you this is a sweet spec as a non-cat 2.3, and there’s plenty more going for it besides. Supplied new 33 years ago in the UK, it spent a chunk of its life (1996-2010) in Rome, when the Italian restaurateur domiciled with it in Shipley returned home. (With all due respect to the people of Shipley, this is no great surprise.) But then he returned, bringing his delightfully rust free E30 M3 – which had always retained its UK registration – back to Yorkshire in 2016.
In the years since the BMW been treated like the automotive royalty it now most certainly is. Alongside the usual stuff – brakes, tyres, exhaust and more all replaced with OEM parts – this M3 has even had 15 hours spent on its seats by an antiques restorer. And four hours with a detailer making the boot perfect. The seller is very proud that even the glovebox torch works – this is the level of attention to detail we’re talking about. So while there might be more powerful and even more valuable E30 M3s out there, it’s hard to imagine one that’s been cherished quite like this one. If 2022 is your year to buy an iconic M car, there can’t be many better.
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