The E46 M3 GTR Is A V8 Powered Le Mans Racer For The Road
Homologation rules are a beautiful thing. These restrictions dictate that manufacturers must build road going versions of their race cars if they wish to compete in specific racing series. Thanks to the homologations rules at the popular Le Mans 24 hour race, BMW created the E46 M3 GTR, a V8 powered Le Mans racer for the road.
Although the high-strung inline-6 from the pedestrian E46 M3 was worthy of the road car, BMW needed more power for the E46 race car to compete at Le Mans. BMW decided to drop in a V8 engine to give the E46 race car the power it needed for a Le Mans race. This decision meant BMW needed to homolagate the V8 powered E46 race car.
In the the winter of 2001 BMW unveiled the first M3 road car with V8 power, the homologated E46 M3 GTR. The M3 GTR is powered by a detuned P60 V8 producing 380 horsepower and 7,000rpm. This V8 engine features a dry sump lubrication system and highly angled radiator with hood venting. Despite the extra cylinders, the P60 V8 is lighter than the S54 engine in the normal E46 M3.
Power was sent through a 6-speed manual transmission linked to an locking M differential. The chassis benefits from extensive chassis stiffening and a suspension derived from the race car. The E46 M3 GTR is significantly lower than a standard E46 M3 and features a body kit that reduces drag thanks to bespoke front and rear facias.
Further changes include a roof, front and rear facias, and hood vents made from carbon fiber. This weight reduction offsets the additional chassis bracing and improves overall dynamics. A carbon fiber rear wing helps keep the car glued to the road during spirited driving. The GTR also used leather trimmed Recaro and removed the rear seats in the name of weight savings.
The E46 M3 GTR is one of the rarest BMWs ever built. It represents a strong connection between real racing and BMWs M division. As BMW continues to leverage the M division on more pedestrian BMWs, lets always remember the mad GTR, the car M wants to build.