A BMW M3 E30 Race Version Is Cheaper Than Its Street-Legal Brother

A BMW M3 E30 Race Version Is Cheaper Than Its Street-Legal Brother 16 photos
BMW M3 E30 Rally 1BMW M3 E30 Rally 2BMW M3 E30 Rally 3BMW M3 E30 Rally 4BMW M3 E30 Rally 5BMW M3 E30 Rally 6BMW M3 E30 Rally 7BMW M3 E30 Street 1BMW M3 E30 Street 2BMW M3 E30 Street 3BMW M3 E30 Street 4BMW M3 E30 Street 5BMW M3 E30 DTM 1BMW M3 E30 DTM 2BMW M3 E30 DTM 3
The E30 BMW M3 is a legendary race-car. It won both on racetracks and rally stages, and it did that with grace. More than three decades later, the race and street versions are precious amongst collectors.
According to FIA regulations, the carmaker had to build a street version to be granted a race-spec model. BMW built the E30 M3 between 1986 and 1991 to get the Group A Touring category's homologation and to race it in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft). The FIA required a production run of at least 5,000 street vehicles, but the commercial success was unexpected, and the Germans produced it in 17,184 units between 1986 and 1991.

BMW introduced the M3 E30 at the 1985 Frankfurt Motor Show as a street vehicle, but it intended to get an FIA approval for the Group A Touring category and race the car in the DTM. It turned out to be a very successful track weapon and won the DTM twice, the World Touring Car Championship once, and dominated the Italian Superturismo Championship four times (the last three were back-to-back titles between 1989 and 1991).

For the M3 E30 Rally version, BMW employed the British race and engineering company Prodrive to develop the car, and the result was stunning. It wasn't terrific against the all-wheel-drive monsters of Group A on loose surfaces, but it was fierce on dry tarmac, as it proved in the 1987 Tour de Corse Rally.

BMW M3 E30 Rally 3
A BMW M3 E30 in Rally specification was offered on in December 2020 with a reserve price of $59,000, but the reserve wasn't met. The reasons are plenty, but most of them are related to the car's technical condition since the seller didn't provide details about servicing history, ECU version, and so on. In the end, it was too much of a gamble, and nobody risked that much money.

Not that long ago, a DTM version (not street legal) was up for sale at a dealer in Germany, for $100,000. It was an actual race vehicle with its engine rebuilt in 2018 in race-spec rated at 279 hp.

BMW M3 E30 DTM 1
Photo: CPI sportwagen GmbH
On the other hand, a mint-condition street vehicle BMW M3 E30 with just 33k miles on the odometer was auctioned at over $100,000 in Calgary, Canada - and they can get even pricier. In the past decade, the E30 M3 more than doubled its value, especially for vehicles with less than 60,000 miles (96,500 km) on the clock and a proven history record.

BMW M3 E30 Street 1
Since these classic cars are driven less and less on public roads, sometimes it doesn't make sense to buy a street vehicle and go for the hard-core racing version. Then again, if the proud owner wanted to drive it at the local BMW meeting, the street version would be a much better choice.

Leave us a comment below on what you think: would you go for the hardcore version, or the street-legal one?
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About the author: Tudor Serban
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Tudor started his automotive career in 1996, writing for a magazine while working on his journalism degree. From Pikes Peaks to the Moroccan desert to the Laguna Seca, he's seen and done it all.
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