BMW's more civilized alternative to the M Coupe, and almost as fast. Think 328 on steroids. Like the M Coupe, a bit too hard-edged for Yuppies to love. Very easy to drive fast. Big hairy fun on a race track, where it can hold it's own against&a non-turbo Porsche 911, and you can put four people in it. Just out of production, but due to be replaced by a more powerful version in 2000.

The result of BMW's desire to compete in the FIA's group A racing class in the 80's. The catch being that the car entered for competition had to have 5000 examples built over a 12 month period, for sale to the public (as a requirement for racing in this class). More importantly, the cars for public sale were required to have the same basic engine (block, head, crankshaft and induction system), aerodynamic aids and that race tyres had to fit inside the stock fenders. The resulting automobile has taken up cult status with motorheads of a continental bent, as well as being the winningest car BMW ever fielded in competiton. This version of the car, which utilized the e30 chassis was the first, last and only of the M3 series to be a race car for sale to the public. The next M3, built on the e36 chassis was little more than sports cars to fill a market niche. While the e36 was available in a lightweight version for track work, it never achieved the sublime balance for which the e30 was famous. Damn them for having lost the edge that was necessary for true competition in favor of creature comforts. Damn them...

With the advent of the e46 m3, it would seem that the pendulum has swung back towards the race bred end of the spectrum. Unlike the e36 m3 (1995-1998) which was GT in spirit, the e46 has handling that is more balanced, that welcomes more tweaking towards the limit. On the down side, weight is weight, and mass makes transient manuvers more ham fisted. But at least they're headed back in right direction... And they're headed further still. A lightweight version of the e46 m3 has been introduced, known as the M3 CSL, which shaves 450 lbs from the car and adds another 20 or so horsepower. And it has been loosed upon the public. The debate about the best M3 ever has just become a bit more heated. Damn them all again...

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