This is the BMW E30 M3 you didn't know existed
This is the M3 E30 Cabriolet, an ultra-limited production car that was also BMW M's first ever convertible.
The BMW E30 is probably one of the coolest 3-Series ever and maybe the most beautiful. The design is sharp, old school but cool and it perfectly represents BMW's golden era. In order to homologate their Group A race car, BMW had to produce at least 5'000 road-legal units. BMW's Motorsport (M...) division had the difficult task of creating a tamed sports car that you can drive everyday. Obviously, they nailed it and the M3 was born. Immediately, this car became an icon that completely redefined the "compact" sports car segment. The M3 has evolved a lot throughout the years, changing several times of shape and engine and, today, the car is called M4 (M3 has become a sedan). The name changed and caused a quite a stir, but the philosophy is still pretty much here.
What we have here is something very special. This is a BMW E30 M3 Cabriolet, a car you might have never heard of. The M3 Cabriolet was sold alongside the Coupe, however, while BMW sold over 17'000 units of their M3 Coupe, only 786 cars made it to production, which makes it undoubtedly one of the rarest BMW's ever. the Cabriolet represents swimmingly the 80's decadence. The perfect weapon for ultra-chic golden boys.
So, let's run some numbers. The Cabriolet came at a time when you did not need to be fat to be cool. Indeed, the car is quite compact and is over 30 cm shorter than its descendent, the M4. And it makes a whole lot of difference. The E30 is agile, very agile. Same story goes with the engine. BMW are very famous for their engines and some of the best M3's were equipped with the legendary straight-six or the infamous V8. Not the E30 though. This car came with the S14 2.3-litres 4-cylinder that produced 195 horsepower. Without the catalyst the M3 actually made 200 ponies. Later versions were even equipped with the tuned engine from the Evolution II (220 PS). But man! This engine is fun, even with 195 horsepower, it's a high-revving little DOHC that reminds you that you do not actually need a straight-six or a V8. It will even reach a top speed of 235 km/h! What more do you need?
Still not impressed? It might be less powerful than a Ford Fiesta ST, but the car only weighed 1'300 KG! I thought you might argue that the Ford only weighs 50 KG more, but the M3 provides emotions that the Fiesta driver can only dream of. The E30 came with a state-of-the-art Getrag 5-speed manual gearbox. European versions, like this one, had a dogleg layout. Meaning the first gear is down to the left instead up-left. This means shorter ratios and limited-slip differential. The gearbox takes some getting used to, but it certainly is one of the highlights of the car. BMW M division really went the extra-mile with this car and fitted it with enhanced suspensions, improved aerodynamics, larger tyres and better brakes. The result is a car that is fun and easy to drive, that is amazingly well-balanced (even though it is a convertible) and with an engine that loves to rev high. The E30 M3 Cabriolet was BMW Motorsport first attempt at convertibles, and they did a pretty good job.
We were talking about the looks. The E30 is, in my opinion, the best-looking 3-Series ever. I must admit that I prefer the Coupe, but the Cabriolet lets you fully appreciate the nice engine note when you take the roof down. Additionally, you could choose exclusive colours that did not exist on the Coupe, such as this magnificent Macau Blue Metallic that is a mix of blue and purple metallic paint that really stands out in the sun.
To find a stock car like this in such mint condition is actually truly exceptional. Most E30 M3's were like canvases for people who wanted to try tuning. Once they showed up on the second-hand market and became cheaper, a lot of hazy people turned these cars into astrocities that could never make it back to the way they once were. A mint-condition car like this one, with 88'900 km on the clock, is worth CHF70'000.- (£57'500)! Is it worth it? Complicated to say, but we really enjoyed our time behind the wheel of such a classic. If you cannot afford it, you can always go with a 325i, which is a great alternative. But we would highly recommend going for the holy grail, the M3. Then, what you need is the whole set of 80's clothes that goes with it. If somebody from management read me, can you make GarmentTribe happen?
BMW E30 M3 Cabriolet
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Perego Cars, situated in Switzerland, for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car. It is currently on sale on their website. Website: www.peregocars.com/en Facebook: www.facebook.com/peregocars/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/peregocars/