By: Christopher P. Davis | IMG by
BMW’s E30 generation 3-Series line entered production in 1981. The last E30 rolled off the assembly line in 1994. The longevity of the model is a true testament to what BMW does best – Produce Racing Inspired Luxury Automobiles with classic styling.
While in recent times, some would argue that BMW has deviated from this model; in the 1980’s they built the model.
The E30 Chassis supported four models (5 if you include the Baur Convertible), a sedan, coupe, estate/ station wagon, and a convertible. From 1988-1991 in the US the first “M3” was available.
When I look at the E30 range now, it a appears rather dated.
However, when you compare it to BMW’s current models, you can see a definitive pedigree in those circular headlamps and that kidney grille.
EVOLUTION NOT REVOLUTION
For the most part, the styling of the 3-Series range has remained evolutionary. I personally appreciate the fact that if you look at a 2008 BMW 3 and a 1988 BMW 3, you can tell that they are both BMW’s – a feat that many marques have not been able to achieve.
BMW sold close to 2.4 Million E30 Series cars in 13 years; roughly the same number of cars that Munich sold in the two succeeding incarnations – combined.
Building upon the successes, and almost cult-like fervor around models like the 2002tii and the 2000CS, the introduction of the M3 was the start of the “M” brand within BMW.
The full M series has without a doubt led to BMW’s even greater successes as it entered the 90’s and the 21st century.
The original BMW E30 M3 had achieved great notoriety before it even hit the showroom floors.
The racing version of the M3 had many successes in DTM, Rally, and Australian Touring Car races among others. The E30 M3 is considered by many to be the premier rally car of all time, racking up more wins than any other car.
In North America BMW only engineered 195 Horses under the hood, In Europe however, 215 were released (This due to all those pesky US rules and regs). BMW equipped the M3 with a stiffer frame and more aerodynamic and larger fenders.
BMW borrowed front brake calipers and wheel bearings from the 5 -Series of the time. The M engineers increased the Caster Angle of the M3 to allow for superior handling characteristics.
At present, BMW makes an almost identical lineup in its 3 Series (With the addition of an M Coupe and Convertible). The E30 is part of that success more than say Benz’s 190E is part of the current C-Class’ appeal.
With high build quality and the loyalty the cars instilled in their owners, the E30 allowed BMW to gain the ardently devoted and loyal customer base that more than endures, it thrives.