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BMW M history

BMW M3 Coupé E36

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Visit also: BMW M3 Sedan E36 | BMW M3 Convertible E36


The BMW E36 M3 3.0 is the original BMW Motorsport (later called BMW M) version of the E36 3 Series. Available as a coupe, convertible or sedan, it uses one of two 3.0-liter S50 engines, both based to some degree on the standard production M50 powerplant. The European S50 has individual throttle bodies and a more complex cylinder head, while the U.S.-spec S50 more closely resembles the normal production M50 engine.


1992-1999 BMW M3 CoupÉ E36
Type
M3 E36 3.0 Euro Spec
M3 E36 3.2 Euro Spec
Engine
Code
S50 B30 Kat
S50 B32 Kat
Displacement
2990 cc
3201 cc
Cylinders
6
6
Fuel type
Gasoline
Gasoline
Power
210 kW | 286 hp
236 kW | 321 hp
Torque / RPM
320 Nm / 3600 rpm
350 Nm / 3250 rpm
Performance
Top Speed
250 km/h | 155 mph
250 km/h | 155 mph
Acceleration
0-100 km/h
0-62 mph

6.0 s

5.5 s
Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
Combined
-
-

Type
M3 E36 3.0 U.S. Spec
M3 E36 3.2 U.S. Spec
Engine
Code
S50 B30 US
S50 B32 US
Displacement
2990 cc
3201 cc
Cylinders
6
6
Fuel type
Gasoline
Gasoline
Power
177 kW | 240 hp
177 kW | 240 hp
Torque / RPM
305 Nm / 4250 rpm
320 Nm / 3800 rpm
Performance
Top Speed
220 km/h | 137 mph
225 km/h | 139 mph
Acceleration
0-100 km/h
0-62 mph

6.1 s

6.1 s
Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
Combined
-
-

Dimensions
Length
4433 mm
Width
1710 mm
Height
1335 mm

Source for technical specifications: Wikipedia and BMWheaven

All E36 M3s also have a BMW M-tuned chassis and unique cosmetic items both inside and out. Unlike its E30 M3 predecessor, the E36 M3 was not designed primarily for competition use, but rather as a road-going GT car.

The E36 M3 3.0 coupe was first shown at the 1992 Paris Motor Show. The U.S.-spec version did not appear until the 1994 Los Angeles International Auto Show.

For the 1996 model year, BMW M replaced the E36 M3 3.0 with the faster and more refined 3.2-liter version. For the European market, this model was fitted with the new S50 B32 engine, an evolution of the S50 B30, as well as a six-speed manual gearbox and detail refinements to the chassis. For the U.S. (and later Canadian) market, the M3 received its own powerplant, the S52, plus ASC+T traction control and a host of chassis upgrades. Both versions were also treated to a few cosmetic alterations.

The 3.2-liter E36 M3 was first shown at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show. The North American-spec version did not appear until the 1996 New York International Auto Show.

All 3.0-liter and 3.2-liter E36 M3s were built on the regular 3 Series assembly line at the Regensburg factory near Munich with the exception of a small batch of coupes assembled in South Africa from German-supplied Semi Knocked-Down kits during late 1993 and early 1994 exclusively for that market and a small batch of M3 3.2.

Versions and Production Numbers


E36 M3 3.0

BMW initially produced the European-spec E36 M3 3.0 only as as a coupe. Convertible and sedan versions were introduced two years later. Each body style was offered in left-hand drive and right-hand drive configurations. There was also a limited run of E36 M3 GT coupes built in both left-hand drive and right-hand drive. The U.S.-spec version of the 3.0-liter M3 was offered only as a coupe, with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.

  • ECE coupe (LHD): 11,284 built from 03/92 thru 07/95
  • ECE coupe (RHD): 3,152 built from 03/93 thru 07/95
  • ECE GT coupe (LHD): 350 built from 02/95 thru 06/95 (plus 6 pre-production in 12/94)
  • SA coupe (RHD): 748 built in SKD form from 09/93 thru 05/94
  • USA coupe manual (LHD): 8,515 built from 03/94 thru 12/95
  • USA coupe automatic (LHD): 1,705 built from 12/94 thru 01/96
  • ECE convertible (LHD): 1,403 built from 03/94 thru 08/95
  • ECE convertible (RHD): 572 built from 09/94 thru 08/95
  • ECE sedan (LHD): 868 built from 06/94 thru 07/95
  • ECE sedan (RHD): 415 built from 10/94 thru 07/95

E36 M3 3.2

The E36 M3 3.2 was immediately produced in coupe and convertible forms, as well as a four-door sedan. Like the original 3.0-liter E36 M3, 3.2-liter models were equipped with two different powerplants, one for North America (S52) and a second for Europe and the rest of the world (S50 B32). The latter model was offered from the start in all three body styles, and in both left-hand drive and right-hand drive configurations. Of these, a small run of right-hand drive sedans was assembled in South Africa from German-supplied components in late 1996, and a further number were fully built there during 1997 and 1998.

The North American-spec E36 M3 3.2 was initially offered only in the U.S. market and only as a coupe. For the 1997 model year (September, 1996 production), a North American-spec M3 sedan was added and Canada received the S52-powered E36 M3 for the first time. An S52-powered E36 M3 convertible was added exclusively to the U.S. market starting with March, 1998 production. Though all North American E36 M3 3.2 coupes were fitted with a manual gearbox, both the sedan and convertible could be ordered with a ZF five-speed automatic transmission.

  • ECE coupe (LHD): 6,117 built from 09/95 thru 12/98
  • ECE coupe (RHD): 2,845 built from 01/96 thru 09/98
  • NA coupe (LHD): 11,793 built from 04/96 thru 04/99
  • ECE convertible (LHD): 1,763 built from 02/96 thru 08/99
  • ECE convertible (RHD): 2,107 built from 02/96 thru 07/99
  • USA convertible manual (LHD): 2,252 built from 03/98 thru 08/99
  • USA convertible automatic (LHD): 4,017 built from 03/98 thru 08/99
  • ECE sedan (LHD): 1,296 built from 11/95 thru 01/98
  • ECE sedan (RHD): 694 built from 01/96 thru 12/97
  • NA sedan manual (LHD): 4,574 built from 09/96 thru 05/98
  • USA sedan automatic (LHD): 4,036 built from 09/96 thru 05/98
  • SA sedan (RHD): 168 as Complete Knock Down (CKD) kits from 11/96 thru 04/97, 532 as complete cars from 04/97 thru 10/98

Drivetrain


E36 M3 3.0

Though based on the regular production M50 24-valve inline-six used in many BMW models of the era, the European version of the S50 B30 engine has a number of unique components developed by BMW Motorsport (later renamed BMW M). These include:

  • Increased bore (to 86mm) and stroke (to 85.8mm) for a total of 2990cc
  • Increased compression to 10.8:1
  • Ported and polished cylinder head
  • Individual throttle bodies for each cylinder
  • Heavy-duty valve springs
  • Continuously-variable VANOS valve timing on the intake stroke
  • Bosch Motronic M3.3 engine management control
  • Dual mass flywheel
  • Free-flowing intake and exhaust systems
In this guise, the S50 B30 produces 286 hp (DIN) at 7,000 rpm and 236 lb/ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. These engines are equipped with dual catalysts for all markets. The European and U.S. versions of the S50 B30 powerplant share similar cast iron engine blocks and have an identical capacity of 2990cc. However, the U.S. version (known as the S50 B30 USA) retains the less complex head design and two-stage (non-stepless)VANOS valve timing system of the normal M50 engine upon which it is based. It also does without the European-spec model's individual throttle plates for each cylinder. Compression is slightly lower at 10.5:1. One benefit of the U.S. version is that it retains hydraulic lifters, thus periodic valve adjustments are not needed.

The S50 B30 USA is rated at 240 hp (SAE) at 6,000 rpm and 225 lb/ft of torque at 4,250 rpm.

E36 M3 3.0

When creating the 3.2-liter M3 engine, BMW M relied upon much of the experience it had gained when designing the V12 engine for the McLaren F1 supercar. In the end, the S50 B32 incorporated the following improvements over the S50 B30 engine used in the original Euro-spec E36 M3:

  • Increased bore to 86.4mm (from 86.0mm) and lengthened stroke to 91.0mm (from 85.8mm) for a total capacity of 3,201cc (from 2,990cc)
  • Increased compression ratio to 11.3:1 (from 10.8:1)
  • Advanced BMW/Siemens MSS50 engine management system able to compute 20 million instructions per second
  • Double VANOS continuously variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust strokes
  • Lightweight pistons
  • Improved dual-mass flywheel
  • Graphite-coated conrods
  • Larger inlet valves
  • More efficient intake and exhaust systems
  • Second oil pump

The result of these changes boosted horsepower from 286 hp (DIN) at 7,000 rpm to 321 hp (DIN) at 7,400 rpm. Maximum torque also increased from 236 lb/ft at 3,600 rpm to 258 lb/ft at 3,250 rpm. This was the first street-legal BMW engine to achieve over 100 hp per liter.

Gearbox


E36 M3 3.0

All 3.0-liter E36 M3s regardless of engine type have a ZF Type C five-speed manual gearbox with the following ratios: 4.20 (1), 2.49 (2), 1.66 (3), 1.24 (4), 1.00 (5). This is mated to a limited slip differential (25%) with a 3.15:1 final drive.

In addition, the U.S.-spec 1995 M3 was available with a ZF 5HP18 five-speed automatic transmission as an option starting with 12/94 production. This unit offers three driver-adjustable modes (normal, manual and winter) and uses the following ratios: 3.67 (1), 2.00 (2), 1.41 (3), 1.00 (4), .74 (5). It comes mated to a 3.23:1 final drive with limited slip differential.

E36 M3 3.2

There were four different transmissions used on 3.2-liter M3s. European-spec models have a Getrag six-speed manual transmission with the following ratios: 4.23 (1), 2.51 (2), 1.67 (3), 1.23 (4), 1.00 (5), .83 (6). This same gearbox was later used (with the same ratios) as the internals of the Sequential M Gearbox (SMG).

The North American-spec 3.2-liter E36 M3 retains the ZF Type C five-speed manual gearbox of the 3.0-liter version, with the same internal ratios: 4.20 (1), 2.49 (2), 1.66 (3), 1.24 (4), 1.00 (5). Starting with the 1997 model year, the ZF 5HP18 five-speed automatic returned as an option with the same internal ratios used on the 3.0-liter model: 3.67 (1), 2.00 (2), 1.41 (3), 1.00 (4), .74 (5).

All 3.2-liter M3s equipped with a manual gearbox (including SMG) use a shorter 3.23:1 final drive and limited slip differential. North American-spec M3s with the ZF five-speed automatic transmission have an even shorter 3.38:1 rear end, also with limited slip. In addition, all 3.2-liter North American-spec E36 M3s are equipped with Automatic Stability Control plus Traction (ASC+T) which can apply the brakes and/or reduce engine power in order to maintain traction. It includes an orange warning light under the M logo in the instrument cluster and can be switched off via a console-mounted button.

In 1997, BMW introduced the Sequential M Gearbox (SMG) as an option on the European-spec E36 M3 in some markets. Using the internals of the Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, SMG employs an electronic clutch operated by a magnetic valve that is triggered by pulling or pushing on the gear lever. Two further valves operate a pair of hydraulic cylinders that electronically engage each gear, thus allowing for shifts to occur in as little as 0.4 seconds. The SMG electronics are integrated with the Siemens engine management system to put the engine and gearbox in synch. The system includes an automatic mode, gear indicator in place of the engine oil temperature gauge below the tachometer, and a flashing upshift light under the M logo in the instrument cluster.

Chassis


E36 M3 3.0

The E36 M3’s suspension is based on that of the regular E36 3 Series, with MacPherson struts in front and the multi-link “Z-axle” in the rear. However, BMW M made the following changes when adapting the system to the M3:

  • Height decreased by 31mm (1.2-in.)
  • Track increased by .55mm (front) and .90mm (rear)
  • Firmer shocks and springs
  • Reinforced spring mounting plates
  • Thicker anti-roll bars
  • Revised suspension geometry

In addition, all 3.0-liter M3s have a special M-tuned steering rack with a variable ratio (from 15.4:1 to 19.8:1) and engine-speed-sensitive power steering.

E36 M3 3.2

All 3.2-liter E36 M3s incorporate the following chassis revisions compared to the 3.0-liter version:

  • Revised suspension geometry with increased front castor
  • Firmer springs and shocks
  • Stronger wheel hubs
  • Front anti-roll bar linked to struts for lighter weight
  • Quicker steering ratio (mean reduced from 17.6:1 to 15.6:1)

Note: European-spec E36 M3 3.2 sedans utilize the same suspension settings as the E36 M3 3.2 coupe.

Brakes


E36 M3 3.0

All 3.0-liter E36 M3s are fitted with four-wheel vented disc brakes measuring 12.4-inches or 315mm (front) and 12.3-inches or 313mm (rear) in diameter with a thickness of 28mm.

E36 M3 3.2

All 3.2-liter E36 M3s are fitted with four-wheel vented disc brakes of the same size as the E36 M3 3.0: 12.4-inches or 315mm (front) and 12.3-inches or 313mm (rear). However, European-spec and Canadian models also utilize two-piece front "floating" rotors. The U.S. market was denied the more efficient two-piece rotors offered in the rest of the world because BMW of North America was concerned that, if not properly maintained, the rotors presented the possibility of failing, thus creating a legal liability.

Wheels and tires


E36 M3 3.0

For the E36 M3 3.0, BMW M specified 235/40ZR17 tires on all four corners. However, each body style was given a unique set of wheels. The coupe (both Euro-spec and U.S.-spec) wears 7.5x17-inch M Double Spoke cast alloy wheels. A lighter forged M Double Spoke version was optional on European-spec models from the start of production, and became optional on U.S.-spec M3s starting in December, 1994. These are always fitted in a staggered configuration, with 7.5x17-inch wheels in front and 8.5x17-inch wheels in back. A polished version of this wheel was standard on the E36 M3 convertible. The sedan has its own wheel design, the M Contour II, also in the staggered (7.5x17-in./8.5x17-in.) configuration. This wheel is also fitted to the U.S.-spec M3 coupe with Luxury Package, though only in the narrower 7.5x17-inch version.

E36 M3 3.2

For all versions of the 3.2-liter E36 M3, BMW M replaced the previous model's 235/40ZR17 tires with a staggered setup, specifically narrower 225/45ZR17s in the front and wider 245/40ZR17s in back. The tires are mounted on one of three wheel designs, all measuring 7.5x17-inch (front) and 8.5x17-inch (rear).

European-spec models continue to utilize one specific wheel design for each body style: M Double Spoke II for the coupe, forged M Double Spoke with a polished finish for the convertible (optional on the coupe) and M Contour II for the sedan. On North American models, the M Double Spoke II became the standard wheel for all body styles, with the forged M Double Spoke and M Contour II as options. The latter was fitted to all M3s equipped with the optional Luxury Package and became an individual option as of 9/97 production.

Cosmetics


E36 M3 3.0

Aside from the wheels, E36 M3s can be distinguished from a normal E36 3 Series by their more aggressive lower body panels consisting of a front airdam with body-color mesh intake, highly-sculpted side valance panels and lower rear diffuser with large-diameter exhuat tips. In addition, the protective side rub strips are wider and contain the “M3” logo, and the side-view mirrors are of the aerodynamic M design. A body-color M-Technic rear spoiler with either the "BMW Motorsport" script or a third brake light could be fitted as an option in most markets (except on convertibles).

E36 M3 3.2

The E36 M3 3.2 can be identified from the 3.0-liter version by the following features:

  • Black mesh front airdam insert in place of the earlier body-color version
  • Aluminum doors (ECE-spec M3 coupe and M3 convertible only)
  • Clear turn signal lenses (ECE-spec models only)
  • M Double-Spoke II alloy wheels in staggered 7.5x17-in. (front) and 8.5x17-in. (rear) sizes for ECE-spec coupe and USA/NA models
  • Dakar Yellow II (337) paint offered in place of Dakar Yellow (267)
  • Techno Violet metallic (299) paint offered in place of Daytona Violet metallic (266)
  • Estoril Blue metallic (335) paint offered in place of Avus Blue metallic (276)

European version vs. U.S. Version - exterior

There are few external differentiators between the two versions. However, like all E36 3 Series sold in America, the M3 is not fitted with ellipsoid headlights or a rear fog light, both standard features of the European version. Also, U.S.-spec models were never available with headlight washers.

Interior


E36 M3 3.0

The interior of the 3.0-liter E36 M3 has several special items that are unique to this model: an M instrument cluster with red needles and the M logo, door sill plates with the "M3" insiginia, a black headliner and a shift knob with the M tri-color stripe. All E36 M3s are equipped with the Check Control vehicle function monitoring system.

Several different steering wheels were offered on the E36 M3. Some very early examples have the three-spoke M-Technic II wheel without an airbag, but most have either a non-M three-spoke wheel with a Euro-size airbag or a four-spoke wheel with a full-size airbag. Cars built before September, 1993 use this wheel in the normal BMW design. After that time, the standard airbag wheel was replaced with an M version featuring a thicker rim and raised thumb grips plus a redesigned horn pad and M tri-color stitching on the rim. This was the only wheel available on North American M3s.

Unique to the E36 M3 coupe are M Design sport seats with integrated headrests in either M cloth with Amaretta suede bolsters or Nappa leather with the M tri-color insignia.

E36 M3 3.2

Though essentially identical in design and equipment to the earlier model, the interior of the 3.2-liter E36 M3 differs in the following ways:

  • Restyled M-Cross cloth upholstery in place of Hurricane cloth (coupe only)
  • Shift knob with "M" logo instead of M stripe
  • Leather door inserts included with leather upholstery on all models
  • Modena Natur Nappa leather interior offered
  • Magma Nappa leather interior offered
  • Sand Beige Nappa leather interior offered (from 9/98, USA only)
  • Champagne, Lotus White/Black, Classic Red/Black and Violet Blue/Black Nappa leather interiors discontinued
In addition to the above M3-specific upgrades, the 3.2-liter M3 interior benefits from the following improvements made to most E36 3 Series models as of September 1995 production:
  • One-touch feature added to the optional power sunroof
  • Revised audio systems and optional Harman/ Kardon upgrade with 320 watts and 6-disc CD changer (optional in most markets)
  • Console-mounted door lock switch added (North American models only)
  • Redesigned Console Valet (North American models only)

European version vs. U.S. Version - interior

The sole item that is unique to the interior of E36 M3s built for the American market is the instrument cluster. Though it shares its red needles and M logo with that of the Euro-spec car, the U.S. version has a 160-mph speedometer (in place of the 280 kph/170 mph unit) and a unique tachometer with a graduated redline and integrated economy-meter (in place of an oil temperature gauge).

Also, standard equipment was more extensive than on the European-market M3, and included:

  • Air conditioning
  • 10 speaker Alpine radio/cassette sound system, prewired for CD changer
  • Choice of M cloth/Amaretta suede or Nappa leather seating at no extra cost

Optional equipment


E36 M3 3.0

European-market E36 M3s could be fitted with almost any 3 Series option including headlight washers, metallic paint, a rear spoiler (not available on the convertible), air conditioning, leather upholstery (standard on the convertible and sedan), power sunroof, power seats, heated seats, manual rear window sunshade, the fourth-generation on-board computer, cruise control and rear headrests.

On U.S. models, options were initially limited to a power sunroof, cruise control and heated front seats. The fourth-generation on-board computer became optional a few months after production began, and forged M Double Spoke alloy wheels were added to the option list by the end of 1994. An M-Technic rear spoiler was a dealer-installed option from the start of production and became a factory option in January, 1995.

E36 M3 3.2

The option list of the 3.2-liter E36 M3 continued largely unchanged from that of the 3.0-liter model, with the exception of a few new items including: Harmon/Kardon audio system, door-mounted side airbags (standard in North America from 9/97 production), power rear vent windows for the coupe (not available in North America), Extended Burl Walnut wood interior trim for the coupe and convertible (not available in North America), and the SMG gearbox (not available in North America).

Source: bmwmregistry.com

Visit also: BMW M3 Sedan E36 | BMW M3 Convertible E36

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