BMW E30 M3 Specs and Review

BMW produced the BMW E30 M3 as an entry-level luxury car from 1982 to 1994. The E30 is the second generation of the E3 series that replaced the E21 3-Series. Soon after, many car enthusiasts modified the E30 into a racing/sports car. 

Because of the E30 M3’s flexibility and reliability, users consider the BMW E30 M3 the greatest M3 of all and one of the most iconic cars in the BMW lineup.

The European version of the BMW E30 M3 initially used a 2.5L S16 inline-four engine with a power output of 197 hp. Moreover, its maximum torque is 177 ft-lb. The E30 M3 is the second generation of the impressive BMW 3 series.

It also has 4-cylinder petrol, impressive 6-cylinder petrol, and a 6-cylinder diesel engine. Lastly, the E30 M3 is light and fast, with a top speed of 235 km/h (146.02 mph).

Read on to learn more about the BMW E30 M3’s specs and key features, pros and cons, and tips for maintaining it in good condition.

About the BMW E30 M3

Car enthusiasts consider the BMW E30 M3 the greatest M3 of all time due to its flexibility and reliability.

The E30 M3 has the following key features: 

  • 2.5L S16 inline-four engine 4-cylinder petrol
  • An impressive 6-cylinder petrol
  • 6-cylinder diesel engine
  • Top speed of 235 km/h (146.02 mph)

The BMW E30 M3 has had seven special editions since the company started building it in 1982. The first car’s design used a Computer-Aided Design (CAD), wind-tunnel testing, and crash testing. 

They revised the suspension, reducing the oversteer, thus, improving its performance from Its E21 predecessor. Moreover, BMW also upgraded the interior but retained the twin headlights.

Indeed, the BMW 3 series is a well-known automobile that the Car and Driver Magazine named the E30 M3 one of the top 10 cars for 23 consecutive years. [1] Moreover, the E30 name indicates it comes from the second generation of the three series built from 1983 to 1993. 

U.S. M3 Features

The E30 M3’s performance continued to rise due to its progressive evolution. For example, the U.S. M3 offered incredible features, such as: 

  • Central locking mechanism 
  • 13-button computer
  • Active check control 
  • Electric sunroof and windows 
  • Air conditioning 
  • Premium stereo 
  • Limited-slip difference 
  • M tech suspensions with gas shocks 
  • M steering wheel

In 1998, the Euro version of the E30 M3s featured three shock stiffness settings, namely: Normal (N), Komfort (K), and Sport (S). You can adjust the firmness through a dial in the center console. The E30 M3 has seven special editions with Evolutions I, II, and III. 

BMW increased the E30 M3 Evolution III capacity to 2,467 ccs and upgraded the power to 238 hp at 7,000 RPM. The model also provided bigger valves, cooling oil jets, and a more durable fitted cam. 

You could choose between the bright red or the elegant jet-black shades. You can also opt for some interior luxuries as they are not included in the package.

BMW launched the E36 3 series in 1990, and the company started phasing out the E30.

Consequently, the BMW M3 became one of the most popular vehicles in the BMW M series as it won numerous championships in touring car racing. [2

BMW E30 M3 Specifications and Features

1. Engine 

Initially, the European version of the E30 M3 featured a 2.5L BMW S14 inline-four engine. This was coupled with its power output of 197 hp and a maximum torque of 177 ft-lb.

Eventually, BMW improved the 4-cylinder engine to produce 215 hp. The specifications of its petrol engine are: 1.6 – 1.8 L M10 I4, 1.6 – 1.8 L M40 I4, 1.8 L M42 16v I4, 2.0 – 2.5 L S14 I4, and 2.0 – 2.7 L M20 I6. 

Meanwhile, the diesel is 2.4 L M21 I6. Four-cylinder petrol and six-cylinder petrol-powered the six-cylinder diesel engines. 

2. Dimensions 

The BMW E30 M3 is 4, 320 – 4,460 mm (170.1 – 175.6 in) long, 1,360 – 1,400 mm (53.5 – 55.1 in) tall, and 1,645 mm (64.8 in) wide. Its wheelbase measures 2,570 mm (101.2 in). 

The M3 E30’s curb weight is 1,080 – 12,000 kg (2380 – 2,650 lb). [3] The coupe’s curb weight is 2,568 lb, while the convertible’s curb weight is 2,998 lb.

3. Exterior 

This entry-level luxury car offers a classic and elegant exterior befitting a car in this category. The original series featured convertible body designs with a two-door sedan or a 4-door coupe.

4. Tires 

The front tire is 225/45 ZR16, while the rear is 225/45 ZR16. The tire also depends on what year BMW produced the E30 M3. The front tire’s factory size is 175/70/14, which is the same as the rear tire’s factory size. There are various tire styles throughout the lifespan of the E30 M3. 

5. Drivetrain 

The BMW transmission offers manual and automatic transmission with four manual operations and three automatic systems.

BMW fitted the M3 with a Getrag 265-5-speed manual gearbox, while the automatic transmission featured the 4-speed four hp 22 system.

6. Suspension 

The BMW E30 M3 suspension is a complete coil-over suspension style. You could also replace the lowering springs, dampers, and cup kits to improve your suspension’s performance.

Likewise, you may want to modify your sway bars and caster plates. You could completely rebuild your E30’s suspension for a smooth driving experience. 

7. Lighting

Your E30 M3’s lighting would depend on your choices. The original headlights and taillights include gaskets and fog lights.

8. Brakes

The ventilated brake disc at the front measure 280 mm, and the rear solid brake disc measures 282 mm discs. It utilizes the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS).

9. Ignition

E30 M3

The BMW’s ignition includes ignition coils, spark plugs, wires, rotors, boots, distributors, and caps. Most 1991 models, including the M3 E30, have a coil-on-plug system, with each cylinder having its ignition coil. This coil is atop the spark plug.

10. Unique Features

The unique features of the BMW E30 M3 include its engine, ignition, transmission, and many car parts, integral only to this second-generation model. Kindly refer to the specifications mentioned above.

11. BMW E30 M3 Top Speed

The BMW E30 M3 can reach a speed of 100 km/h (62.14 mph) within 6.7 seconds. Its top speed is 235 km/h (146.02 mph). The M3 can reach this speed due to its lesser weight. The engine can climb up to 200 hp with a maximum speed of 6,750 rpm even without a compressor or turbocharger. 

This video is an excellent BMW M3 E30 review, including its key specs and features:

Pros and Cons of the BMW E30 M3


1. Light and Fast

The BMW M3 E30 is light and fast due to its reduced weight and slim body. The car won various touring track races due to these features. Also, with normal use and proper maintenance, the E30 can last past 500,000 miles. 

The E30 M3 gained over 1,500 wins during its racing heydays that included the following: [4]

  • 4 wins at the Italia Superturismo 
  • One win at the World Touring Car Championship
  • Two wins at the European Touring Car Championship
  • Five wins at the 24 Hours Nürburgring

The BMW M3 E30 and the other BMW series are the most successful touring cars.

2. Flexible

You can modify the E30 M3 to about anything you prefer. If you want to convert it into a racing automobile, you can. You can replace any motor in the engine and buy your selected spare parts.

You can:

  • Swap the engine with an S52 or S50 – this will provide around 320 who (power output measured at the wheels)
  • Rebuild the 2.3L engine and expand it to 2.5L – this will provide around 300-320 whp at the crank.
  • Further, rebuild the 2.5L engine and add a single turbo setup to the S14 – this will provide you with more than 400 whp [5] 
  • You can rebuild the engine by upgrading the gaskets, bolts, seals, and other parts to maintain the engine’s smooth performance.

3. Appreciates in Value and Price

BMW offered the original M3 E30 as its first affordable sports car. Nonetheless, as the car became a classic vintage car, the price and value have increased for well-maintained BMWs. 

You may want to invest in a BMW while enjoying its perks and incredible riding adventures. However, be prepared to spend some cash maintaining it, as spare parts tend to be pricey.

Furthermore, BMW solely produced the E30 M3 for homologation purposes; hence, they were produced in limited numbers. This decreased supply and increased demand could cause the prices to go up.

4. Durable Chassis

The BMW E30 M3 provides a durable, light chassis that withstand winding roads and harsh weather. The extremely stiff chassis ensures your safety and security as well. 

5. Excellent Weight Balance

The M3 E30’s excellent weight balance will help you navigate smoothly through sharp curves on winding roads. Hence, you will enjoy riding the E30 as a touring car. 

Initially, it was one of the fastest sports cars on the market, so you could also use it on the racing tracks. But, nowadays, there are faster cars than the BMWs as the company stopped developing them.

6. Fun to Drive

BMWs are also fun to drive. You can use it as a touring vehicle to drive around. You can go slow or speed up and enjoy a smooth drive. 

7. Reliable Engine

Your engine could last forever with proper maintenance and regular checkups. You have to ensure that the engine fluids are clean and fresh. You also have to perform periodic valve adjustments to keep the engine’s best shape.


Expensive Spare Parts

The BMW E30 M3’s spare parts are quite expensive as the car is around 38 years old. You may not find the spare parts easily. You may want to do the minor repairs yourself to reduce maintenance costs.

Is the BMW E30 M3 Worth Buying?

Yes, the BMW E30 M3 is worth buying because you can use it for commuting or add it to your collection of classic cars. If you keep up the maintenance, your car can easily go 250,000 miles or more.

What Is the Cost of the BMW E30 M3?

The typical price of a BMW E30 M3 is between $48,250 to $57,198. The Coupe Evo II is more expensive at around $175,000 – $250,000. In some markets, the BMW M3 E30 could cost as low as $30 000 and as high as $256,500.

How Long Does a BMW E30 Last?

The E30’s engine could last almost forever with correct maintenance. However, you have to replace the timing belt every 45,000 miles or four years. You have to adjust the valve every 15,000 miles as well. 

Tips for Maintaining Your BMW E30 M3

1. DIY Maintenance to Reduce Cost

You could do the periodic maintenance of your E30 M3 yourself to reduce your maintenance cost. Buying the spare parts and having the motor shop replace the parts could burn a hole in your pocket. Service fees are quite expensive, even with minor repairs.

2. Perform a Regular Maintenance Check 

You should do a performance check and overall upkeep regularly. You may want to do it twice a month or every month. The frequency would depend on how often you use the car. If you use it every day, you have to check everything before driving.

3. Adjust the Valve Periodically

You have to adjust the valve every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Some drivers do it every after 7,500 miles. Know your car and adjust your valve accordingly. If unsure, you should contact the car dealer or refer to the user’s manual.

4. Replace the Timing Belt Every After 5 Years

You should replace the timing belt every five years or 60,000 miles (96,560.64 km). Do not wait until it is worn out. You have to replace it after 60,000 miles, no matter what the timing belt’s condition. You should also change your spark plugs as needed.

5. Clean Your E30 M3 Regularly

Cleaning your E30 regularly will prevent the accumulation of grime, oil, and dirt. Dirty parts will contaminate your car’s fluids and will decrease your car’s performance.

Conclusion – BMW E30 M3 

The BMW E30 M3’s European version initially used a 2.5L S16 inline-four engine. This engine had a power output of 197 hp and a maximum torque of 177 ft-lb. 

BMW produced the second generation of the BMW 3 series with the M3 E30. It is powered by 4-cylinder petrol, 6-cylinder petrol, plus a 6-cylinder diesel engine.

The E30 M3 became popular on the racing tracks from 1986 to 1991 because it was light and fast. It had an impressive top speed of 235 km/h (146.02 mph), rare during those times.

The BMW E30 M3 is the right vehicle for you if you want classic and iconic cars that could last long. The upside of this classic car is that you could use it every day as a means of transportation. 

To help you maintain your BMW E30 M3, you can follow these tips:

  1. DIY Maintenance to Reduce Cost
  2. Perform a Regular Maintenance Check
  3. Adjust the Valve Periodically
  4. Replace the Timing Belt Every After 5 Years

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