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The Rare BMW M3 GT is the E36 M3 America Needed, But Missed

North America has missed out on many unique cars in motorsports, with the most elusive being the coveted BMW M3 GT. M3 purists will tell you it's the least loved M3 (a weighty argument). After all, it came after the E30 – one of the most iconic Bimmers to ever roam the planet.
BMW M3 GT E36 Review 9 photos
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There's a reason why the E30 successor, the E36 homologation special, fails to get the same reputation as its predecessor, especially in the United States. With only 356 units available, this exceptional track car didn't find its way to North America.

But not everyone agrees that the E36 lives in the shadow of the E30 – not the European crowd. BMW had a special treat for the M3s of this region, and it started with the S50 engine.

In Europe, the BMW E36 M3 got a unique engine, the S50, an actual BMW Motorsports straight-six unit. In 1995, this rare homologation special arrived in the region as the BMW M3 GT.

The U.S. version of the E36 is under-powered compared to the GT, which had different cams, higher compression, and a tune.

Like the Lancia Delta Integrale or the Ford Escort RS Cosworth, the BMW M3 GT was a homologation special. BMW developed this trim to get the E36 GT homologated into the FIA and IMSA racing championships.

Under the hood, the rare homologation BMW M3 GT came with a 3-liter straight-six engine making 292 hp (295 ps) and 238 lb-ft (329 Nm) of torque at 3,900 rpm. The M3 GT redlines at 7,000 rpm with peak power at 6,000 rpm. It will do 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 5.9 seconds. While the regular M3 was capped at 250 kph (155 mph), this green mean machine could get all the way to 270 kph (171 mph) with the speed limiter removed.

All the GTs were available in a single color, British racing green shade. It had aluminum doors (for weight reduction), an adjustable wing, and splitters. It also came with an upgraded suspension which included stiffer springs and shocks and a strut brace.

You wouldn't appreciate the BMW M3 GT on paper—until you got behind the wheel. It's an absolute track hog. And while 292 hp might not be fast by modern standards, the combination of upgrades makes it a thrilling drive experience.

Press your foot on the throttle to 5,800 RPMs, and an inner devil awakens. It'll rip hard and not let up until 7,000 RPM—an experience that'll excite hair at the back of your neck.

Not everyone will appreciate the driving experience of the M3 GT. It's understandable. Most reviewers think it's softer than the E30 (a worthy accusation). However, this homologation M3 comes with something regular E36s lack—racing acumen.

Comparisons aside, this rare M3 was an initiation into the brand's racing streak that led to the birth of the accolade-winning M3 GTR.

The M3 GT isn't just a show car. It's a different driving experience worthy of a spot in motorsports history.

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