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BMW M3 E30 Coupe

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BMW M3 E30 Convertible

The BMW M3 E30 is the BMW Motorsport-developed version of the E30 3 Series. Its S14 four-cylinder powerplant is a further development of the M10 unit and was chosen because of its compact dimensions. The chassis is based on the basic E30 3 Series design but has been thoroughly reworked by BMW Motorsport in every significant area. The reshaped body shares few panels with other E30 3 Series models.

1986-1990 BMW M3 E30
Type M3 E30 '86-'89 M3 E30 '89-'90
Code S14 B23 S14 B23 Kat
Displacement 2302cc 2302cc
Cylinders 4 4
Fuel type Gasoline Gasoline
Power 147kW | 200HP 158kW | 215HP
Torque@RPM 240Nm@4750rpm 244Nm@4750rpm
Top Speed 229km/h | 142mph 229km/h | 142mph


Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
City - 12.4 | 18.9
Highway - 7.8 | 30.1
Combined - -


Type M3 Evo 1 M3 Evo 2 M3 Sport Evolution
Code S14 B23 S14 B23 EVO2 S14 B25 Kat EVO3
Displacement 2302cc 2302cc 2467cc
Cylinders 4 4 4
Fuel type Gasoline Gasoline Gasoline
Power 147kW | 200HP 162kW | 220HP 175kW | 238HP
Torque@RPM 240Nm@4750rpm 245Nm@4750rpm 240Nm@4750rpm
Top Speed 240km/h | 149mph 240km/h | 149mph 246km/h | 152mph



Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
City - - -
Highway - - -
Combined - - -


Source for technical specifications: BMW Heaven.

The E30 M3 debuted at the 1985 Frankfurt motor show. Because of the relatively high production numbers required to homologate the M3, production took place at the normal Munich-Milbertshofe factory instead of in the more limited Motorsport facility in Garching. However, unlike the normal E30 models, the M3's drivetrain was assembled by special teams, then mated to the chassis on the regular assembly line.

The main impetus for the E30 M3’s existence was Group A racing, a production-based class that demanded that each race car share its core mechanical components with a road car, of which at least 5,000 examples had to be produced. Thus, BMW Motorsport d esigned the race car first, then applied the necessary changes to the road car in order to homologate the competition machine. The E30 M3 street version and E30 M3 competition version are therefore quite similar. For example, the widened fenders were needed to accommodate racing rubber on the competition cars but were not necessary for the more modest tires of the street version. However, fender width had to be identical between the road and race versions, so both share the same flared arches.

Versions and Production Numbers

BMW Motorsport developed seven versions of the E30 M3 coupe, each with slight mechanical variations and all in left-hand drive. Four were regular production models: European-spec without catalyst, European-spec with catalyst in 195 hp (early) and 215 hp (later) forms, and North American-spec. The remaining three were limited editions known as the Evolution I, Evolution II and Sport Evolution. These were built to homologate updates to the engine and aerodynamics for racing purposes. There were also four further special editions with mainly cosmetic variations: Tour de Corse, Europa Meister 88, Johnny Cecotto and Roberto Ravaglia. In addition to the coupe, an E30 M3 Convertible was assembled by hand in limited numbers.

  • ECE (non-cat): 5,187 built from 03/86 thru 08/89
  • ECE (cat/195 hp): 3,544 built from 05/86 thru 05/89
  • ECE (cat/215 hp): 1,914 built from 09/89 thru 12/90*
  • NA (cat): 5,300 built from 03/87 thru 12/90
  • ECE Evolution I (non-cat): 505 built 02/87 thru 05/87**
  • ECE Evolution II (non-cat): 501 built from 03/88 thru 06/88
  • ECE Sport Evolution (cat): 600 built from 12/89 thru 03/90
  • ECE Europa Meister 88 (cat): 148 built from 10/88 thru 11/88
  • ECE Johnny Cecotto (cat): 480 built from 04/89 thru 07/89
  • ECE Roberto Ravaglia (cat): 25 built in 07/89
* includes the Swiss E30 M3 Cecotto edition
**includes the French E30 M3 "Tour de Corse" edition

E30 M3 utilize the "WBS" VIN prefix

The E30 M3 was generally given a "WBS" VIN prefix (i.e. the first three letters in the VIN) to identify it as a product of BMW Motorsport GmbH. However, it is believed that the initial 164 ECE non-catalyst examples of the E30 M3 were g iven the regular WBA (non-M) prefix. The WBA prefix also appears in the VIN of the first 208 examples of the E30 M3 Sport Evolution.

What changed during the production of the European-spec E30 M3?

In addition to the development of several special edition models, there were many major and minor improvements made to the standard European-spec E30 M3 during the five and a half years it was produced. The most noteworthy of these occurred when both the 200-hp (non-catalyst) and 195-hp (catalyst) engines were replaced by the more powerful, catalyst-equipped 215-hp engine in September of 1989. Other changes include a switch to ellipsoid headlights with integrated "city" lights (from 9/87 production) and aluminum front control arms (6/89 production), the availability of Boge Electronic Damping Control and a myriad of minor color, trim and option variations.

What changed during the production of the North American-spec M3?

The E30 M3 was introduced in North America as a 1988 model, though production began in March of 1987. Cars produced before September of 1987 were actually built to 1987 specification (despite being officially considered "1988" models). True 1988 production began in September of 1987, when ellispoid headlights were introduced, Henna Red (052) was replaced by Cinnabar Red (138), Pearl Beige leather was replaced by Natur leather, and Silver leather was offered for the first time. An upgraded radio with CD-changer capability was introduced for the 1989 model year (from 7/88 production).

The next major round of changes were introduced with the 1990 model year (from 6/89 production). At this time, the ellipsoid headlights were once again replaced by halogen units, the rear quarter windows were fixed, the control arm bushings were modified, aluminum control arms replaced the steel versions and the air intake box was enlarged (as fitted to the Euro-spec Evolution II). In addition, the option list was expanded to inlcude a power glass moonroof and heated front seats (already standard in Canada). Further changes were implemented in September of 1989, when a driver-side airbag with knee bolster became standard on U.S.-spec cars and optional in Canada, plus Cinnabar Red (138) and Salmon Silver metallic (203) were replaced by Brilliant Red (308) and Sterling Silver metallic (244). The final 1991 models entered production in June of 1990 with no changes.


The E30 M3’s S14 engine was designed for racing applications and is therefore compact and high-revving. It combines the basic four-cylinder block from the M10 family with a four-valve head derived from the one used on the six-cylinder M88 and S38 motors. Special features of this engine include individual throttle plates for each cylinder, machined intake and exhaust ports, and a crankshaft with eight counterweights. Like the M88 and S38, the S14 does not have hydraulic lifters, and thus requires periodic valve adjustments.

Versions of the S14 engine

BMW Motorpsort built five road-going versions of the S14 powerplant. The “standard” S14 engine has a bore of 93.4mm and a stroke of 84mm for a total capacity of 2,302cc. Without pollution controls, it is rated at 200 hp (DIN) at 6,750rpm and 176 lb/ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. A version of this engine equipped with twin in-line catalytic converters produces 195 hp (DIN) or 192 hp (SAE) and 170 lb/ft of torque at the same engine speeds. This was the only variation of the S14 sold in North America.

A second catalyst-equipped version of the S14 was introduced on the E30 M3 Cecotto/Ravaglia special editions in April, 1989. This engine produces 215 hp (DIN) at 6,750 rpm and 170 lb/ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. The increased power is largely due to a reprogramming of the Bosch Digital Motor Electronics (DME). This engine also became the standard European-spec E30 M3 engine as of September, 1989 production.

The most powerful evolution of the 2.3-liter S14 was introduced in the M3 Evolution II starting in March, 1988. Changes included new pistons that raised the compression to 11:1 (from 10.5:1), a more effecient air intake, lightened flywheel and reprogrammed engine management. This non-catalyst powerplant is rated at 220 hp (DIN) at 6,750 rpm and 181 lb/ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. These engines have white cam covers with the tri-color Motorpsort logo painted on them.

The final version of the S14 features increased cylinder bore (to 95mm) and a long-stroke crank for a new total displacement of 2,467cc. This engine was used exclusively in the 1990 E30 M3 Sport Evoltuion, built from 12/89 to 03/90. In addition to the increased displacement, the valves were enlarged and a more aggressive cam was fitted. Special nozzles sprayed oil under the pistons to keep them cool. All Sport Evolution motors were equipped with catalysts. Power increased to 238 hp (DIN) at 7,000 rpm, though peak torque decreased slightly ( over the Evolution II) to 177 lb/ft at 4,750 rpm. These engines use the regular black cam cover but have red spark plug wires.


Two different Getrag 260 five-speed manual gearboxes were used; a close-ratio version with a direct top gear and a “dogleg” shift pattern for Euro-spec cars, and an overdrive unit (shared with the E30 325i) with a standard “H” layout for North American-spec cars. The ratios are as follows:

  • European-spec: 3.72 (1), 2.40 (2), 1.77 (3), 1.26 (4), 1.00 (5)
  • North American-spec: 3.83 (1), 2.20 (2), 1.40 (3), 1.00 (4), 0.81 (5)
North American-spec cars have a shorter 4.10:1 final drive (versus 3.25:1) to offset the taller ratios. Both gearboxes are mated to limited slip rear differentials with a maximum locking of 25 percent.

What distinguishes a Euro-spec E30 M3 mechanically from a North American version?

Except for a different air intake arrangement, the North American-spec E30 M3 carries essentially the same powerplant as the early catalyst-equipped European-spec model. It is rated at 192 hp (SAE) at 6,750 rpm, which translates to a European rating of about 195 hp ( DIN). Torque is an identical 170 lb/ft at 4,750 rpm. The only significant powertrain difference concerns the gearbox, which is a Getrag 260 with a standard shift pattern, as opposed to the European-spec model’s close-ratio Getrag box with its dogleg first gear location. The use of the conventional shift gate was determined to be more easily acceptable to Americans, and the wider ratios (shared with the E30 325i) are offset by a shorter 4.10:1 final drive.


The E30 M3’s chassis consists of the MacPherson strut/semi-trailing arm design used on all E30 3 Series model, but has been revised with the following changes:

  • Three times more steering castor
  • Front antiroll bar linked to the struts
  • Stronger wheel bearings (from E28 5 Series)
  • Thicker 19mm rear antiroll bar
  • Shorter (by .6mm), stiffer springs
  • Wider track
  • Revalved shocks
Starting sometime in 1988, Euro-spec E30 M3s were available with Electronic Damper Control by Boge. This offered three shock stiffness settings, Komfort (K), Normal (N) and Sport (S) in order of increasing firmness, adjusted via a control knob in the center console.


The E30 M3 has a power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering system with an overall ratio of 19.6:1, which is slightly quicker than the normal E30 ratio of 20.5:1.


All E30 M3s have vented front disc brakes measuring 11.1-inches (280mm) and solid rear discs measuring 11.1-inches (282mm). ABS is standard.

Wheels and tires sizes

There were two wheel and tire combinations available for the E30 M3. A 7x15-inch cross-spoke alloy wheel with 205/55VR15 tires was the standard wheel on European-spec models and was also fitted to all North American-spec examples. However, the Evolution II, Sport Evolution and Cecotto/Ravaglia special editions were equipped with 225/45ZR16 tires on 7.5x16-inch alloys of the same cross-spoke design. This larger wheel and tire package could also be ordered as a factory option on regular Euro-spec M3s.


Because the E30 M3's shape had to be homologated for racing, all exterior body panels except the hood are unique to this model. The fenders are flared. The front and rear fascias contain unique 2.5-mph bumpers. The rear window is re-angled and the glass, both front and rear, is bonded. The trunk lid sits over 1.5-inches higher than the normal E30 3 Series, has a wing-type rear spoiler and is met by an extended cap over the C-pillar, all of which lower the Cd to 0.33 from 0.38. There is a roof-mounted radio antenna at the front. All window trim is of the blacked-out "Shadowline" variety. “M3” badges appear on the grille and decklid.

How does the exterior of the North American-spec E30 M3 differ from that of the Euro-spec model?

Cosmetically, the North American E30 M3 is nearly identical to the European-spec model. However, it can be easily identified by the black intake grilles near each front fog light in place of the European-spec model's body-color tow hook covers.There are also bumper-mounted side marker lights, slightly different headlight configurations and a high-mounted third brake light, all required by Federal law.


The E30 M3 interior shares its basic architecture with the standard E30 3 Series. However, all M3s are equipped with manual sport seats in cloth, leather or a combination of the two. The rear seat is individually contoured for two passengers. A black headliner and a unique instrument cluster with red needles, an M logo and an oil temperature gauge under the tachometer in place of the economy-meter are also included. Cars without a driver-side airbag have a leather-wrapped M three-spoke steering wheel in one of two designs: The M-Technic I with a slimmer hub and the M tri-color stripe on the center spoke was used on M3s built before September, 1989. After this date, the M-Technic II steering wheel with a thicker rim and the M logo on the central spoke was used. The shift knob is also leather and includes an M stripe with the "dogleg" shift pattern (euro-spec) or the standard "H" configuration (North American models). It is always of the earlier, non-ergonomic design and comes attached to an integrated leather boot. The parking brake handle boot is also leather and is unique to the M3. All M3s were equipped with the check control vehicle monitoring system above the interior rearview mirror.

How does the interior of the North American-spec E30 M3 differ from that of the Euro-spec version?

Except for unique instrumentation and a generally higher level of equipment, the interior of the North American-spec E30 M3 is essentially identical to the Euro-spec model. Standard equipment on all North American-spec M3s included Bison leather sport seats, cruise control, air conditioning, power windows and sunroof, on-board computer II and an eight-speaker am/fm stereo cassette sound system. U.S.-spec models built for the 1990 and 1991 model years (9/89 thru 12/90 production) have a driver-side airbag with knee bolster.


The European-spec versions of the E30 M3 were far less lavishly equipped than the North American-spec version. Optional equipment, depending on the market and production date, included: metallic paint, headlight washer/wipers, leather upholstery, heated seats, power windows, power sunroof, rear headrests, on-board computer II, air conditioning, Electronic Damper Control (EDC) and various audio systems.

North American-spec cars were fitted with most of the above items as standard, and thus options were limited to metallic paint, heated seats (from 9/89 production on U.S. models, always standard in Canada) and a glass moonroof (1990-91 models only). A CD changer could be added as a factory option starting with 9/88 production.

Special editions

There were seven special editions of the E30 M3. Three were homologation specials known as the Evoultion I, Evolution II and Sport Evolution. The remaining four were based more closely on regular production models, but had special cosmetic features. These editions were called the Tour de Corse, Europa Meister 88, Johnny Cecotto and Roberto Ravaglia.

E30 M3 Evolution I

The initial E30 M3 Evolution was created to homologate refinements to the E30 M3 designed to make it more competitive in its competition guise. The main mechanical alteration was a revised cylinder head, distinguishable by an "E" cast into it, though peak power remained unchanged from the standard non-catalyst M3 at 200 hp (DIN). The model is otherwise identical to a standard European-spec E30 M3 and lacks a numbered dash plaque or any other identifying feature to denote this special series. It is thought that 505 examples were produced in the Spring of 1987.

E30 M3 Evolution II

The E30 M3 Evolution was followed by the E30 M3 Evolution II, all of which were built in the Spring of 1988. Unlike the first Evolution, the E30 M3 Evolution II has significant mechanical upgrades over the regular M3. New pistons raised the compression to 11:1 (from 10.5:1), the air intake was improved, the flywheel lightened and the engine management revised. Power increased to 220 hp, torque to 181 lb/ft, both at the same rpm as the standard E30 M3. These engines have cam covers painted in white with the tri-color Motorsport emblem. The close-ratio gearbox carried over unchanged, though the final drive was reduced slightly from 3.25:1 to 3.15:1.

There were no alterations to the chassis or brakes, though the larger 7.5x16-inch wheels with 225/45ZR16 tires (as fitted to the Evolution I) were standard, along with the deeper front airdam, additional rear spoiler and front brake cooling ducts in place of foglights from the Evolution I. In addition, thinner glass plus a lightened trunk lid and bumpers reduced weight by 22 pounds.

The E30 M3 Evolution II was available in only three exclusive exterior colors: Misano Red (236), Macao Blue metallic (250) and Nogaro Silver metallic (243). The sole interior choice was Silver cloth with matching leather bolsters. Both the front and rear seats were fitted with the tri-color M lapels (as used on the E28 M535i/M5), plus the the special M dead pedal and door sill plates with the "M3" insiginia from the first M3 Evolution model. Finally, a center console-mounted plaque denoting the specific number of each example out of 500 was fitted to every Evolution II.

E30 M3 Sport Evolution

The E30 M3 Sport Evolution, produced in late 1989 and early 1990, was the most extensively modified of the three E30 M3 Evolution editions. The cylinder bore was increased to 95mm (from 84mm) and a long-stroke crank was added to boost displacement to 2,467cc (from 2,305). In addition, the valves were enlarged and a more aggressive cam was fitted. Special nozzles sprayed oil under the pistons to keep them cool. All Sport Evolution motors were equipped with catalysts. The end result was a power increase to 238 hp at 7,000 rpm, though peak torque decreased slightly (over the Evolution II) to 177 lb/ft at 4,750 rpm. These engines use the regular black cam cover but have red spark plug wires. The gearbox remained unchanged but the 3.15:1 final drive was fitted.

Like the Evolution II, the Sport Evolution has thinner glass, a lighter trunk and bumpers, and brake cooling ducts in place of foglights. In addition, it also has a smaller fuel tank. For homologation purposes, the Sport Evolution has unique front and rear spoilers with adjustable extensions for greater downforce, even wider front fenders, and reprofiled grille slats with sealed gaps for better aerodynamics, all of which have negligible effect on the street. The M3 Sport Evolution also sits 10mm lower than the normal E30 M3.

The Sport Evolution was only offered only in Jet Black (668) with red bumper stripes or Brilliant Red (308) with black bumper stripes. The wheels are the same 7.5x16-inch cross-spoke items used on other Evolution models, but the spokes are painted a darker Nogaro Silver. Comfort items such as power windows, a sunroof, on-board computer and air conditioning were all deleted in order to keep weight down, though they could be ordered as options. Even the interior map lights and grab handles were deleted. Recaro sport seats with integrated headrests were standard in Anthracite M cloth. Black leather with the M tri-color logo was an option. A suede-covered M Technic II steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle were included along with red seatbelts. Door sill plates with color "M3" insignias were added and a special plaque denoting each car as a Sport Evolution appears on the center console (though it does not include the unique number of each example out of the 600).

E30 M3 Tour de Corse

Though not considered an "official" model by BMW AG, the E30 M3 Tour de Corse was a special edition of the M3 Evolution I created by BMW France exclusively for the French market to celebrate the win of French drivers Bernard Beguin and Jean-Jacques Lenne in the Tour de Corse rally. The Tour de Corse model shares the "E-stamped" cylinder head, 7.5x16-inch cross-spoke alloy wheels, M dead pedal and special door sill plates featuring the "M3" logo with the Evolution I. However, unlike the Evolution I, the Tour de Corse does not feature the extended front airdam, additional rear lip spoiler or brake cooling ducts in place of fog lights. Instead, it is cosmetically identical to the standard E30 M3 aside from two "Tour de Corse" badges, one in place of the standard M3 badge on the grille and another on the left side of the trunk lid.

Inside, the Tour de Corse includes tri-color M stripe lapels on the front and rear seats and a numbered plaque on the center console bearing the signatures of Bernard Beguin and Jean-Jacques Lenne. It is thought that 200 examples of the E30 M3 Tour de Corse were produced within the series of 505 cars that make up the entire Evolution I production. All were Diamond Black metallic (181) with a Black leather interior and equipped with the power sunroof, on-board computer II, interior headlight adjustment and headlight washer/wipers.

E30 M3 Europameister

BMW decided to celebrate the dominance of the E30 M3 in the 1988 Touring Car season with a limited run of 148 "Europameister" edition road cars built in October and November of that year. Based on the regular production M3 with the 195-hp catalyst-equipped engine, these were all painted in special Macao Blue metallic (250). Most received a Silver extended Nappa leather interior with hide covering the center console and special diagonally-pleated door panels, plus M-stripe lapels on all four seats. A complete Silver Nappa leather interior (including the entire dashboard, glovebox door and steering wheel) was offered as a rare (and expensive) option. In addition, the Europameister was given the larger 7.5x16-inch alloy wheels, door sill plates with the "M3" insignia and an "M" dead pdeal. A special plaque on the center console reads "Europameister 1988 auf BMW M3" and is signed by driver Roberto Ravaglia.

E30 M3 Cecotto

In order to celebrate the many competition victories of factory driver Johnny Cecotto, BMW produced a speical version of the E30 M3 d uring 1989 that was named in his honor. This model introduced the 215-hp version of the 2.3-liter S14, still rated at 170 lb/ft of torque, though now at a slightly lower 4,600rpm. This engine, which would become standardized on European-spec M3s beginiing in September of 1989, can be identified in the Cecotto by its body-color cam cover.

The M3 Cecotto was offered in the same three exterior color choices as the M3 Evolution II: Misano Red (236), Macao Blue metallic (250) or Nogaro Silver metallic (243). In addition to the Evolution II front and rear spoilers, it is further distinguished by its thinner rear window glass and 7.5x16-inch wheels with unique black centers. However, unlike the Evolution II, the Cecotto does not include the front brake ducts in place of foglights.

On the inside, the Cecotto has the standard M3 sport seats, though these are generally trimmed in a special Anthracite or Silver M-Technic cloth with Bison leather bolsters. As an alternative, Black extended Bison leather, Black extended Nappa leather or Silver extended Nappa leather could be specified at extra cost. All Cecotto editions were further equipeed with the power sunroof, on-board computer II and internal headlight adjustment as standard equipment. Additional special features included door sill plates with a color "M3" insignia, a green-tinted windshield band, an illuminated shift knob and a plaque on the center console that displays the signature of Johnny Cecotto, as well as the exclusive number of each car out of 505. (In fact, only 480 Cecottos were built, the other 25 being nearly identical Ravaglia editions see below).

In addition to the initial 505 Cecotto and Ravaglia editions, the Swiss market also received a special series of 50 additional E30 M3 Cecotto models in late 1989 and early 1990. These are identical in every way to the normal Cecotto edition model aside from being fitted with a special 211-hp (DIN) version of the S14 motor tailored for Swiss emissions regulations. Being 1990 models, they are also equipped with the later M-Technic II steering wheel. A unique center console plaque that bears the signature of Johnny Cecotto, but is not individually numbered. The Swiss Cecotto models do not contain a unique VIN sequence, but are instead included within the standard E30 M3 range.

E30 M3 Ravaglia

Instead of the E30 M3 Johnny Cecotto edition, the U.K. received only the E30 M3 Roberto Ravaglia edition, which was essentially an identical car except for the signature of another BMW factory race driver on the numbered plaque. Only 25 were built.


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