BMW M3 Evolution, E36 M3

Posted September 4, 2010 by in Just for fun | No comments yet

The E36 M3 debuted in February, 1992 and hit the dealers’ showrooms in November that year; it was the first M3 powered by a six-cylinder engine, displacing 2990 cc and developing 286 PS (210 kW; 282 hp). Initially available as a coupé only, BMW introduced M3 convertible/cabriolet and saloon/sedan versions in 1994, the absence of any M5  models in the BMW line-up between the end of e34 M5 production in 1995 and the launch of the e39 M5 in 1998 prompting the introduction of the four door Motorsport model.

Also in 1994, BMW produced the limited-edition M3 GT as a racing homologation special; all GTs were British Racing Green and featured an upgraded 295 PS (217 kW; 291 hp) 3.0 liter engine. 350 GTs were built.

In September and November, 1995, the M3 coupe and sedan, respectively, were upgraded to a 321 PS  3.2 liter inline-6. At the same time, the cars received clear indicator lenses, new wheels and a 6-speed gearbox. The convertible did not receive these changes until February 1996.

The majority of E36 M3’s were produced at the Regensburg factory, however a small number of detuned right hand drive M3’s were assembled at BMW’s Rosslyn plant in Pretoria, South Africa.  In total, 46,525 coupés, 12,114 Cabriolets and 12,603 saloons were produced. Saloon production ended in December, 1997; the coupé ceased production in late 1998; and the Cabriolet in December, 1999.

North American models

The first E36 M3 to be imported to the United States was the 1995 model, which received a 3.0 L 24-valve DOHC inline-six engine with 240 bhp (179 kW; 243 PS) and 305 N·m (225 lb·ft) (S50B30US), a different suspension and a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time in about six seconds. It was available with 5-speed manual and automatic transmissions.

A CSL (Lightweight) M3 was produced in limited numbers for the 1995 model year:

The 1996–1999 model years had displacement bumped up to 3.2 L, still with 240 bhp (179 kW; 243 PS) , but torque increases to 320 N·m (240 lb·ft) which is the same S52B32US engine used in the early M Roadster and M Coupe. The manual gearbox remains a 5-speed despite the European versions being upgraded to 6-speed. It was also available as a sedan starting in model year 1997, and as convertible in 1998. Production of the sedan was halted in 1998, while the other models continued until 1999.

US sales figures include a total of 18,961 coupes, 7,760 sedans and 6,211 convertibles.

The E36 M3 was also available as a saloon in the UK for a limited period during 1995–6, during which around 400 RHD models were sold in the UK. This variation had slightly softer suspension but could be purchased with the firmer coupe set-up if the customer wished. Performance figures did not change with the standard 286 bhp (213 kW; 290 PS) (more than the US model by some margin). The 3.2 Evo was introduced with 316 bhp (236 kW; 320 PS) .

E36 special models

There were six special-edition models of the E36 M3 produced: the M3 Euro-Spec (Canadian Edition), M3 CSL (M3 LTW), M3 GT, M3 GT-R, M3-R and the Imola Individual (often referred to as the GT2) (the last of the E36s)

There was also an M3 Anniversary Edition only produced in 1999 for Australia. This was the final year of production for the E36, with only 50 coupes and 70 convertibles being made. Furthermore, “BMW Individual” were able to custom design an M3 with specific coloured leather, woodgrain and other personalized options including polished magnesium alloy wheels from the Anniversary edition. Convertibles lacked the sports seats found in the coupe but retained every other feature.

M3 Euro-Spec (Canadian Edition)

In 1994 agreements existed between Canada and several countries in Europe which allowed any car authorized in one participating country to legally be sold in any of the others.[citation needed] Though BMW had unveiled the next generation E36 M3 in Europe in 1992, the company felt that the production version would need to be priced much higher for export to North America than the market would allow. While the engineers worked on a less expensive North American version of the E36 M3, BMW Canada seized the window of opportunity: 45 numbered European specification M3 coupes were specially produced and imported into Canada.

Even with a base price of $59,900 (a substantial sum for the day given that the standard equipment list did not include forged lightweight wheels, air conditioning, a sunroof or even metallic paint), all 45 cars were spoken for in just 3 days. Unlike the other special versions of the E36 M3, buyers were free to choose any colors and options they wanted on their cars. The cars all came equipped with the 286 PS (210 kW; 282 hp) 3.0 L inline 6 cylinder engine, vented brakes with floating rotors, glass headlights and other European standard equipment. They were initially delivered to Toronto, then shipped all across the country to the dealerships where they were ordered.

Canada would not see another E36 M3 for sale until two years later, when BMW finally made the American versions of the 1997 M3 available for sale. Forty five Euro-Spec Canadian Edition cars were built, each one having a numbered engraved plaque in both the glovebox and the custom leather case which holds the owners manuals. Only the Australian M3-R was built in lower numbers.

M3 LTW (E36)

Beginning with the first E36 M3s delivered, BMW racers began pressuring BMW for a race-ready version with which to compete against Porsche 911s in sports-car racing.

In 1995, BMW relented and began building batches of the M3 LTW at BMW Individual. Upon completion they were sent to Prototype Technology Group (PTG) Racing in Virginia for final preparation, which included the front and rear Motorsport flag decals, and “trunk goodies.” In the boot there was a different oil pan with dual pick up oil pump, longer oil dipstick tube, front strut bar, lower x brace that owners could install at the risk of voiding the standard BMW warranty. The car also came with the normal M3 low wing mounted but most dealers installed the special high wing when prepping the car for sale. An adjustable front lower lip/spoiler was installed. Each new owner was given a 1 page legal document to sign stating that any installation of trunk items voided the new car warranty. The ECU had the top speed limiter removed which resulted in a drag induced top speed. Forged 17″ alloy wheels, 7-1/2″ wide in the front and 8-1/2″ wide in the rear, mounted with identically sized 235/40-17 tires front and rear were an additional difference from the standard 17″ x 7-1/2″ wide cast alloy wheels mounted with 235/40-17 tires on standard M3’s. A 3.23 rear differential was installed vs the normal 3.15 installed in 1995 model year M3’s.

Although BMW promised to build at least 85 examples, BMW never released the number of M3 LTWs built, and because of the peculiar assembly line, to this day may not be known. However, enthusiasts now believe that there exist approximately 120 models.

The first two cars, which were used as press cars, are not technically M3 LTWs as they were regular production M3s that PTG made similar in appearance to the not-yet-built LTW. After press duties, those two cars were brought back into the PTG stable.

Racing History

In an ironic twist, the car that BMW built to race was hardly raced.

Outside of multiple cars raced in the BMW CCA Club Racing series (an amateur series specific only to BMW models) PTG had between two to four models that they raced in IMSA. It seems that one of those cars was sold to Jeff McMillian, in which he won the SCCA World Challenge series, without winning a single race. One was raced in the SCCA’s Touring 1 class by John Browne, and one or two may have been raced in the extinct Motorola Cup.

M3 GT

The M3 GT Coupe was a limited-edition mainland Europe only edition of which 356 were made, 50 further M3 GT Individuals were made in right-hand drive for the UK market. All built in 1995. Famous for being British Racing Green with a Mexico Green interior – a peculiar choice when the traditional German national racing colors were white with red numbers. The BMW M3 GT was a homologation series special built to allow the E36 M3 to compete in the FIA-GT class II, IMSA GT and international longdistance races.

M3 Evolution Imola Individual (M3 GT2)

The M3 Evolution Imola Individual was a limited-edition (200 units for Europe with part VIN WBACB5103-AN307–, 50 for the United Kingdom) car sometimes referred to as the M3 GT2. The engine and performance characteristics of the car were unchanged from the 1996+ euro M3, and a special exterior and interior colour combination was once again chosen by BMW; Imola red (405) paint with Nappa leather & Amaretto seats in Imola red and anthracite seats. It also included side airbags, the M3 GT Class II rear spoiler, front class II corner spoiler extensions, electric seats, and double-spoke polished alloy wheels.

Prior to the release of the Imola Individual there was a pre-production model made which was used as the basis of the special edition, it featured the Class II front and rear spoilers, special order Imola red Paint, special order Nappa + Anthracite Amaretta interior, SMG gearbox, GSM Phone Kit, headlamp washers and double-spoke polished alloy wheels.

This car is believed to be the car BMW used for the Imola individual advertising though not officially confirmed. The car was professionally converted to a 6 speed manual in June 2010 when the SMG Gearbox failed.

M3-R

Fifteen M3’s were ordered by BMW Australia in 1994 to race in the Australian Super Production series. All were delivered to Tony Longhurst Racing for final preparation by the Frank Gardner run team. Eleven were made available to the general public, (who have to possess a CAMS license to be allowed to buy one), four were retained for the race series, the M3-R had locally sourced King springs fitted to Group N adjustable struts and rear perches, AP racing twin plate clutch and four piston brake calipers, dual pickup sump, an oil restrictor in the head, A C Schnitzer cams, a 3.25:1 ratio medium case diff and M5 driveshaft, cold air snorkel into air filter box replacing left hand fog light, non functional rear seat, air conditioner delete and more aggressive tune, GT front splitter and rear spoiler with extensions and gurney strips. this was the most powerful production E36 made with 240 kW (326 PS; 322 hp). a bolt in FIA approved roll cage was also a factory option (locally produced by Dencar) there were several differences between the cars depending on customer requirements, early numbers had non staggered BBS wheels, later had staggered BBS wheels (individually numbered plaque fitted to centre console below emergency brake lever)

M3 compact

To celebrate the 50th birthday of the German automobile magazine Auto Motor und Sport in 1996, BMW M GmbH handbuilt (at least) one official BMW E36 M3 compact. The car was tested and written an article about in the June edition of the named magazine.

The car embodied all the technical (engine, driveline, suspension) and optical (bumpers, wheels, mirrors, dashboard) characteristics of the stock E36 M3. It was powered by the 321 DIN-hp 3.2-litre engine, and its color was red with a black cloth/alcantara interior. It had the forged Styling 24M 5-doublespoke wheels that came standard on the M3 cabriolet, an exhaust with fairly centered quad exhaust tip, Recaro sports bucket seats, red four-point seat belts and an alcantara wrapped steering wheel and gear lever.

The car was donated to the automobile magazine, but there are no details of the car’s present whereabouts.

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