AN ICON OF ICONS, THEE 30 M 3 TOURING CAR IS ONE OF THE ALL-TIME GREAT S —AND WE’ RE LUCKY HEREIN NEW ZEALAND THAT, ON ANY GIVEN WEEKEND, WE CAN STILL WATCH DREAM MACHINES LIKE CONRAD TIM MS’ BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED ‘92 D TM WORKS MACHINE RACING DOOR TO DOOR
CONRAD IS A MAN WHO LIVES AND BREATHES BMW MOTORSPORT, SO IT MAKES SENSE THAT HIS OWN RACE CAR WOULD BE SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL. HE HAS NOT ONLY RESTORED HIS REAL-DEAL FACTORY-BUILT DTM E30 TO ITS FORMER GLORY BUT ALSO RACES IT REGULARLY
con. Think about that word for a second. Not many nouns have the ability to describe an entity, be it living or inanimate, while imparting quite the same gravity. With a mere utterance, any subject is transformed from the mortal to the immortal, the mundane to the unforgettably outstanding.
Within the constraints of automotive — particularly motorsport — culture, it’s a term that picks out the greatest from among the greats. Marques like Porsche, Ferrari, and Nissan litter the ranks of brands that have designed iconic four-wheeled masterpieces, denoted by names of equal significance — 911 GT3, F40, and Skyline GT-R — concise yet physically proven symbols of excellence and achievement above their peers.
Born of a need to compete at a world-beating level, a car with a slightly shorter moniker lurks among that elite crop of production machinery that qualifies as iconic, identified by just one letter and one number: M3.
Although the badge has spanned a number of generations of BMW’s flagship mid-sized sports sedan, the E30 chassis with which the company’s M-Division kick-started the legend in 1986 still stands as the most instantly recognizable and innately ‘BMW’ of the five incarnations produced to date.
The E30 M3 came about through the need to homologate a car to compete in the FIA’s Group A category of the time — essentially, a production-car-based formula aimed at increasing manufacturer involvement with motorsport, both in Group A rallying and touring-car racing, and one that spawned manufacturer showroom specials and two distinct competition arenas in which BMW managed to achieve extensive success with the M3.
While, at first glance, the M3 was reminiscent of a common-or-garden-variety E30 two-door sedan, the clever engineers of Munich had effected a number of bespoke alterations to create the car — most notably from the outside, the aggressive silhouette formed by a deeper front air dam; those oh-so-’80s boxed wheel arches; and, of course, an angular rear spoiler, aft of the shallower angled C-pillar, which comprised one of the 12 unique body panels that set the M3 apart from its pedestrian siblings.
Beneath the bonnet, a 2.3-litre DOHC four-cylinder producing 143kW — the S14 — although, later evolutions of the car saw capacity increase to 2.5 litres and power rise, ultimately, to 175kW — figures not too shabby for a naturally aspirated production car of the late 1980s through to early 1990s.