Is It Possible To Improve The BMW E30 M3? Redux Thinks So
Artwork courtesy of www.reduxleichtbau.com
We’re not sure what the most difficult job in the car business is, but revising a modern icon must be pretty far up the list. Imagine having to meet the expectations of your discerning customers, hit performance and reliability targets, sate Internet commenters who will never drive the car, and attend to a myriad of other responsibilities—from photo shoots to warranty claims—and still bring home a worthwhile profit.
Then again, the most enjoyable brief is to create the ultimate BMW M3…with no detail spared.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with Redux, a UK-based company that’s busy readying what it says is the E30 M3 that BMW “should have built,” a more extreme “Lightweight” model. The resulting nine cars will be called the Redux E30 M3 Leichtbau Prototypes, all built to their owners’ specifications from a road-legal donor E30 M3.
Leichtbau is “lightweight” in German, a fitting name for a concept that many are comparing to the work of Porsche 911-reengineering Singer, a comparison that CEO Simon Lord says is flattering and largely accurate, though the M3s won’t be given a retro look to honor older BMWs.
It may seem wild to reengineer older M3s, but why not? After all, BMW itself sowed many of the seeds that would flower in the Leichtbau project, from the legendary E21 Group 5 Turbo race cars to the final E30 M3 road car that BMW Motorsport developed, the Sport Evolution. Each of the nine cars will be tailored to its owner’s wishes, but even the base specifications are a leap beyond even the Sport Evolution, before taking into account the various changes, inside and out, that feature on the car. Lord says that owners can, “…add a half or full cage—every Redux Prototype is stitch welded and gusseted as standard—with sport or carbon Recaros, and choose a more minimal race-like cabin or one with a more refined feel”. Standard specifications include a host of racing-inspired changes under the surface, including Group A-inspired front and rear suspension assemblies and AP Racing calipers and disks.
“As Leichtbau is part of the company name, we’re saving weight wherever possible too, so aluminium wheels can be upgraded to magnesium, carbon panels replace the steel originals…the list goes on,” he says.
The technical know-how to make all of this happen sounds complicated, but well-regarded BMW motorsport specialist Rally Prep is handing the build, set-up, and testing of the Leichtbau. Project Manager Neil Yates and his team have seen just about every example of what makes a fast E30, from building historic rally cars to trackday competitors.
Above the hard bits, a design team of Toby Mellor, Bujar Muharremi, and Clive Hartley have been called on to subtly re-work the original M3’s shape, with subtle changes that hide its wider track and enhance its more purposeful stance. The renderings you see here were done by Mellor and Muharremi, and, Lord says, represent what they think the E30 M3 would have looked like had BMW continued evolving it after 1992.
Its 2.3-litre S14 engine is bored out to 2.5-litres, and fully uprated to specifications developed solely for the Leichtbau by KSP Engines, including a Bosch ECU, custom cams, custom AP wiring loom, custom billet steel crankshaft, connecting rods, forged pistons, valves, and ceramic-coated manifold. At hand will be an 6-speed H pattern gearbox with quick shift gear lever assembly, single plate paddle clutch, carbon propshaft, and LSD diff conversion.
Yes, it’s a driver’s car, and designed to be mechanically pure and punchy. But for a premium, the engine can be turbocharged to a level that will provide a power-to-weight ratio nearly double that of the original M3.
Of course, the car is still under development, but we like what we see so far. The basic E30 M3 is so highly-regarded that the idea of updating a small series of nine to a “modern” interpretation of the recipe is quite palatable to us, like if a baker had figured out how to make Black Forest cake 34% tastier.
If interest in the car extends past the first series, the team may decide to complete a further 21, in order to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the E30 M3. And with a mechanical and body specification unique to the Redux cars, and BMW not likely to resurrect the E30 platform anytime soon, the Leichtbau really will represent the ultimate evolution of the E30 M3. Built only as a complete car, those on the order list have the enviable job of ticking boxes and sitting on their hands as a bespoke E30 M3 takes shape.
From its specification alone, we think the car sounds like a tarmac-prepared E30 M3 rally car that’s been stuffed into a fine-fitting Savile Row suit. Put another way, a DTM car you can drive to dinner—and what fun that’d be.