BMW M3 Owner Loves Racing Heritage And Kool-Aid
Owner: Mark David
Year, Make, and Model: 1991 BMW M3
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Photographers: Joshua Rizo and Sudhir Vijaykumar
I do not recall a time when cars were not an important part of my life—whether putting together plastic models, drawing them, reading about them, dreaming about them, etc. They have always been a focal point. Also, my dad is very mechanically inclined, able to do everything from engine rebuilds to paint and body work on our family cars. From young I have been immersed in all things automotive, and this affinity remains while other interests have long since faded.
My taste in cars was initially driven by my dad’s fondness of Japanese brands; however, I think a turning point was seeing footage of David Hobbs and Hans Stuck co-driving (flying, actually) a beautiful Marlboro-liveried M1, and at approximately the same time, witnessing Michèle Mouton dominate the Acropolis rally in a Quattro (I think it was the Acropolis). The German marques then trumped everything else.
In the summer of 2006, I bought an ’87 325is to use as a daily driver, started tracking it, and was forever a fan of the chassis. From then on I knew there would always be an E30 in my garage. And, like most non-M E30 owners, I pined for the iconic Motorsport version.
I started looking for an E30 M3 in 2008 and had a list of important “must haves,” which significantly narrowed the market and made my search an exercise in diligence and patience:
-Clean title with no major collisions
-All original (or mods must be easily reversed with no artifacts left behind)
-No window tint
-No Henna or Diamond Schwarz color
A full four years after starting the search, in September of 2012, I saw an ad on AutoTrader for a car that looked promising. Initial perceptions were great, negotiations with the seller went well, and the car passed a pre-purchase inspection (at Bullet Performance) with flying colors.
Production of the E30 M3 ceased in December of 1990, totaling 300 US-market cars for the 1991 model year. 49 were Sterling Silver on Silver. My car is an 11/90 build, meaning very few US cars came off the assembly line after mine—and maybe four more silver/silver examples?
With many E30 M3s converted for track duty, a lot of street cars modified to a very high degree, and even more that have rusted out, been wrecked, or simply neglected, I feel blessed to call this clean, stock, low-mileage car my own; an answer to my prayers, really.
It exceeded all of my requirements and expectations. The first time I saw it I knew I had found the car of my dreams. It came very well-documented, the price was less than market, and it had relatively low mileage (94.6K miles on the odometer at the time of purchase).
The S14 mill is tough for me to love in traffic, but absolutely sublime if roads permit the tach needle to arc past 4k rpm. The chassis wants to carve corners, not avoid them, and is stable and predictable at speed. But you know all this. The steering wheel, the gear shifter and the pedals, as they relate to my driving position, are absolutely perfect. The M3 makes a very mediocre driver like myself look like I know what I’m doing.
A large part of my affection for this car stems from its racing heritage. It’s an awesome feeling to own and drive a car that in competition guise owned the WTCC and holds the title as “Winningest touring car in the history of motorsports.”
How BMW managed to get well-developed, mid-engine-quality handling from a front engine car with very basic suspension geometry and components is, well, what put Bavaria on the map, right? The E30 M3’s ability to manage weight transfer is like none else and the result of phenomenal suspension tuning. Mind-blowing, when you consider the E30 platform was originally designed for mass production, with all the constraints and limitations that come along with it, and was to see duty as a coupe, saloon, convertible, and touring. This wasn’t conceived as a dedicated sports car that benefitted from single-purpose design and manufacturing. Am I totally drinking the Kool-Aid? Sure.
What I also love is that ambient light plays well with the Sterling Silver surfaces. The color really shows off the box flares and aero features. Now it is completely stock with the exception of H&R Sport springs, M Tech II steering wheel, ZHP shift knob, and Euro grills.
I would love to track my M3. But, alas, this car is irreplaceable, and therefore I can’t take it to Buttonwillow, Cal Speedway, or Willow Springs. If something goes wrong during a track weekend, it would take me a very long time to forgive myself. So, my drives are relegated to nearby highways and canyon roads, which are a lot of fun if hit at the right time (5am on a Sunday morning). I also have a “business loop” that I run twice a month, with the highlight being a fast 90° right hander that leads into a very “engaging” on-ramp. It’s a lot of fun.
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