Cel­e­brat­ing 30 years of the M3, Monterey’s sen­sory overload and a right royal ex­pe­ri­ence at Wind­sor Cas­tle

Classic Cars (UK) - - News - Phil Bell, ed­i­tor

The mo­ment I first drove a BMW M3 popped up from the depths of my brain as soon as this month’s cover im­age landed. I was back at Good­wood 15 years ago with the Clas­sic Cars team, there to test 10 very dif­fer­ent cars as­sem­bled for a track day clas­sics fea­ture. To be hon­est I wasn’t very ex­cited about the prospect of the BMW M3, de­spite its leg­endary sta­tus. As I slipped into the ad­mit­tedly grippy Re­caro seat I ex­pected swift laps de­fined by cool dy­namic ef­fi­ciency. What I dis­cov­ered was one of the most driver- con­nected ex­pe­ri­ences of my life. A car that ea­gerly did ev­ery­thing I wanted, and was prob­a­bly ca­pa­ble of do­ing a lot more, while still of­fer­ing un­can­nily civilised road man­ners. So all of the hype was jus­ti­fied. A car that de­serves a big cel­e­bra­tion for its 30th birth­day with lots of petrol to glug and a twist­ing Tar­mac ad­ven­ture park to play in. So we in­vited our favourite ex­am­ples of its de­scen­dants to see which of them re­ceived the big­gest clus­ter of E30 genes. I don’t think any quite match its tele­pathic and pure re­sponses, but some come pretty close for a lot less money in the cur­rent mar­ket.

I haven’t had the chance to ask him yet but I’m sure that new colum­nist Gor­don Mur­ray would have good things to say about the orig­i­nal M3 – he’s made a huge name for him­self de­sign­ing pure driv­ing ma­chines for track and road. It’s a gen­uine priv­i­lege to wel­come him to the pages of Clas­sic Cars and I can’t wait to hear more of his opin­ions and ex­pe­ri­ences over the com­ing months.

The dis­tilled driv­ing plea­sure of the BMW M3 is a stark con­trast with my trip to Monterey. This an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of ex­trav­a­gance played out in the con­cours, rac­ing and auc­tions is al­ways sen­sory overload, but sub­tlety can shine through, like the Lan­cia As­tura that sur­prised ev­ery­one when it won at Pebble Beach.

Back home I was plunged into the Bri­tish equiv­a­lent of Monterey car week, where the rich­ness of cars is still de­light­fully over­whelm­ing. From Fer­rari 250 GTO to Dubon­net Xe­nia, the con­cours con­tenders in the court­yard of Wind­sor Cas­tle alone had my head in a spin.

Af­ter all that I sought sim­ple refuge among the rusty car parts and musty au­to­mo­bilia of Beaulieu Au­to­jum­ble. Pure plea­sure!

En­joy the is­sue.

Wind­sor Cas­tle did ex­cess dis­creetly Monterey Car Week isn’t over-in­flated, says Phil De­la­haye typ­i­fied Pebble Beach glam

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