Jul 08

The Last BMW M3 has Rolled off the Assembly Line

The BMW M3 is claimed to be the ultimate driving machine. While that was certainly true once we have questioned it recently as costs have gotten out of the control and the car gets heavier, lazier, and a bit more poserish. I recently ranted on BMW’s fake exhaust sound and it probably got me on a lot of peoples list, but that’s ok. However today we will put all of that behind us and look at the rich heritage of the BMW M3 which is one of the worlds legendary sports cars.

last BMW M3

M3 production began in 1986 back when the car was a light weight well balanced coupe. Over the years it has progressed into sedan and convertible form as well reaching a much wider audience. All in all about 40,000 M3s have made it to production. Despite my current disdained for the M3, the older models are fantastic and I’d love to have an E30. They are light, zippy, and sublime to drive. Truly the ultimate driving machine back in it’s day.

Now the M3 isn’t exactly dead, it is just going to be called the M4 from now on. You see a while back BMW made the choice that all mid sized sedans would carry the 3 series moniker and the coupes would move to the 4 series, you know because 4 is better then 3. Well that is BMW’s thinking anyway, they think the 4 series will inspire a new level of prestige and what ever it is people look for when trying to outdo their neighbors.


Woodcliff Lake, NJ – July 5, 2013 … Fresh from a clean sweep of German Touring Car Masters (DTM) titles in 2012, the BMW M3 continues to power from one victory to the next again this season. The M3’s reemergence in DTM came in the M3’s final season in the American Le Mans Series where, in 38 starts in the GT it scored 7 victories and took BMW Team RLL to five titles in two seasons. The production M3 Coupe is approaching the checkered flag as BMW M GmbH announces the end of production for the fourth generation model. The high-performance sports car which spawned the championship-winning DTM and ALMS racer is set to end its career on the road after more than 40,000 examples have left the factory. With that, the BMW M3 Coupe will be drawing a line under an extraordinary run on the world’s car markets. The BMW M3 Convertible, likewise powered by a high-revving V8 engine, will continue in production until September 2013.

The BMW M3 has epitomized the direct transfer of racing expertise to the road since 1986. And the latest generation of the high-performance sports car succeeded in adding to the already considerable M3 legend – from innovative technology that yielded even more intense driving pleasure to BMW’s success in DTM, ALMS and other forms of racing. With its athletic design, an overall package pieced together with hallmark M precision, and top-class performance capability, the BMW M3 enjoyed immense popularity around the world. Production of the BMW M3 Coupe – launched in 2007 – exceeded 40,000 units, and the BMW M3 Sedan added almost 10,000 units to the total. Just under 16,000 units of the BMW M3 Convertible have been built to date.
The most important shared feature of the three body variants is their powertrain and chassis technology, derived directly from motor sport. The 4.0-liter V8 engine, developed exclusively for the BMW M3, has cylinder banks positioned at a 90-degree angle to one another. It develops maximum output of 414 hp, generates peak torque of 295 lb-ft and revs to a maximum 8,400 rpm. Like the engine’s high-revving character, numerous construction details, such as the electronically controlled individual throttle butterflies, ion current knock control and dynamically optimized oil supply, were taken straight from motor racing. Along with its instantaneous responsiveness, the abundant power delivery of the naturally aspirated engine – maintained at a constant level into the upper reaches of the rev range – is its defining feature. The BMW M3’s engine won the 3.0 to 4.0-liter class of the International Engine of the Year Award five times in succession.
The transfer of technology from race track to road also shapes the character of the car’s other powertrain and chassis components. A lightweight chassis developed specifically for the M3 – complete with a front axle secured to the body by an aluminum stiffening plate and a five-link rear axle with hollow-tube anti-roll bar and forged aluminum axle control arms – teams up with a rack-and-pinion steering system with M-specific Servotronic and the variable M differential lock to provide precisely controlled transfer of power to the road in any situation. The BMW M3 was fitted as standard with a high-performance compound braking system and could also be specified as an option with the three-mode Electronic Damper Control system. Another impressively innovative option introduced for the fourth- generation BMW M3 was M DCT with Drivelogic. The first double-clutch transmission for a production BMW to be set up specifically to suit the performance characteristics of a high-revving engine opened the door to extraordinarily dynamic acceleration with no interruption in the flow of power.

The fourth-generation BMW M3 was a trailblazer in its class when it came to intelligent lightweight construction. Playing a prominent role in addition to the aluminum hood and plastic fenders in lowering the weight of the Coupe’s body was its carbon roof. The use of this high-tech material on the scale achieved with the BMW M3 represented another important step for the BMW Group towards the industrial manufacture of carbon body components.

During the six years or so of BMW M3 production, the US, Great Britain and Germany grew into its most important sales markets. In 2010 the Coupe also became a work of art when American artist Jeff Koons transformed the BMW M3GT2 endurance racer into the 17th member of the BMW Art Car series. As is tradition for race cars in the series, the Koons M3 GT2 Art Car took to the track for the Le Mans 24-hour race. The BMW M3 GT2 added another rash of victories to the BMW M3’s exceptional record of success, including 7 GT wins, out of 38 entries in 4 seasons and five titles in the American Le Mans Series – Team and Manufacturer in 2010; Team, Manufacturer and Driver (Joey Hand) in 2011. As longtime BMW race driver Bill Auberlen eloquently put it, “This car represented a huge technological advancement in the GT class. The BMW M3 GT was a champion.” It also achieved victory in the Nürburgring 24-hour race. A champion, indeed.

The fourth-generation BMW M3 was produced at the BMW plant in Regensburg alongside the BMW 3 Series Sedan, Coupe and Convertible. Its V8 engine was supplied by the BMW engine factory in Munich, where specific production processes on the special engine assembly line ensured the high-performance unit would be marked by excellent quality and reliability.

Among the highlights of the BMW M3’s production run were the exclusive small- series variants of the car introduced over its lifetime and offered in some markets outside the US, which brought its race-inspired characteristics even further to the fore. The BMW M3 GTS, for example, was developed as a road-legal clubsport-oriented model. The displacement of its V8 engine was increased to 4.4 liters, enabling maximum output of 450 hp. Bespoke chassis components and aerodynamic measures, plus a two-seat cockpit designed for racing use, prepared this exclusive special-edition model for competitive race action on the track and ensured it offered a super-intense M experience on the road. 135 examples of the BMW M3 GTS were delivered to customers.

The BMW M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) joined the fray in 2011 in a limited run of 67 units. Based on the BMW M3 Sedan and built at the BMW M GmbH factory, the BMW M3 CRT boasted exclusively manufactured lightweight components, a 331 kW/450 hp version of the V8 engine and modified chassis technology – all of which was a recipe for exceptionally precise handling balance. An innovative carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) manufacturing process was employed in the construction of the BMW M3 CRT. Its hood was made from two CFRP moldings encasing an aramid honeycomb structure. This construction gave the hood the strength of a conventional steel equivalent, but at roughly a quarter of its weight. The bucket seats of the BMW M3 CRT were made from two CFRP layers wrapped around a recycled-paper honeycomb, and a carbon layer made using conventional production technology was added to visible areas. A rear spoiler and an air-channeling element integrated into the front apron (both made from CFRP) rounded off the exclusive lightweight elements found on the BMW M3 CRT.

Several special editions of BMW M3 Coupe offered in the US, including the Frozen Grey, Frozen Black and Frozen Silver Editions as well as, appropriate for the holiday that just passed, the latest Frozen Red, Frozen While and Frozen Blue Editions. None captured US enthusiasts imaginations more than the Lime Rock Park edition. Finished in Fire Orange, it honored the M3’s home track in the US and celebrated nearly 20 years of racing success in the US through three generations of BMW M3.

BMW M GmbH celebrated the triple success of BMW’s DTM comeback – the drivers’, team and manufacturers’ titles were all won with the BMW M3 – with a limited-run special-edition model: 54 examples of the BMW M3 DTM Champion Edition would leave the factory, one for each DTM race victory notched up by BMW between 1987 and 2012.