First produced in 1986, the 3 Series E30 M3 was the product of a factory effort to participate in German Touring Car racing. The primary opponent was the Mercedes 190 class.
In order to compete in the European Touring Car Championships, BMW had to produce a minimum of 5000 units a year. The race car had to have the same basic engine, intake, and aerodynamics as the production model. The suspension had to fit to stock pick up points, and while larger wheels were allowed, they had to fit within the stock fenders. The E30 M3 is therefore easily distinguished by its oversized wheel wheels. These larger wheel wells were designed to handle 10" wide racing rims. Another feature was a slightly larger rear window to improve aerodynamics.
The power plant is a direct descendent of the M10 F-1 unit, minus two pistons. The engine has a forged crank, a four valve head and strengthened internals. To improve the M3's performance on the track, BMW introduced new versions on an annual basis. There where actually 13 different versions of the E30 M3 produced. Some of the models were in very limited production. Most were European models that never made it to the United States, including a few convertibles and perhaps some 4WD versions.