Many things are “understood”. It’s understood that the Earth is round. That plugging a USB connector into a slot will take at least three attempts. That the E30 M3 was a devastating Iron Age implement that changed the tides of war so completely that they nicknamed it, “God’s Chariot.” How did they fuel it? Program the ECU? We may never know. What we do know, is that it was as ruthless of a weapon in competitive touring car racing!
Bursting onto the scene in 1987 at 8,200 rpm, it graced the Australian Touring Car Championship, then the freshly minted World Touring Car Championship in stride. Tragedy struck immediately at the WTCC showing however, when the judges disqualified each E30 M3-owning team for thin body panels. The hiccups lasted all of one race with Roberto Ravaglia going on to win the driver’s championship in a factory-backed car. In Australia, it poled at the inaugural race of the 1987 ATCC. Even more impressively, it took fourth overall in the 1987 Australian James Hardie 1000, punching up at cars like the Holden Commodore and Nissan Skyline. After the folding of WTCC at the finale of its single season (don’t worry, they come back), the M3 went on to make itself synonymous with the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft, or, for those of us who took Spanish as an elective, the German Touring Car Championship.
It didn’t only make kidney shaped dents in DTM though. It went on to dominate plenty of other touring car series and endurance races (and didn’t do too bad in rally) from 1987 to 1993. We’ll give you a few examples of the most recognizable cars so you can impress your friends by mispronouncing the driver’s names in front of strangers at the next Radwood. We’ll ask you to leave politely in Spanish, after we leave you with the official RYE30 Racing “Favorite E30 M3 That We’d Gladly Wake Up in a Tub of Ice with a Missing Kidney to Own” pick.
#1 – The Warsteiner
If you’re seeing a Warsteiner livery, you’re usually looking at a BMW-blessed workhorse. The classic BMW Motorsport stripes bifurcate the front end of the car and are most often accompanied by the Warsteiner logo. This livery donned cars driven by the likes of Roberto Ravaglia and Eric van de Poele. It would be easier to name the championships it didn’t win during the E30 M3’s reign of terror.
#2 – The Jagermeister
Armin Hahne deserves to be as well known as the Linder Team E30 M3 “Sport Evo” he piloted in the 1992 DTM season. He raced several touring car series and endurance events across several continents with respectable results that included two wins at the Spa 24 Hour, driving cars from our favorite manufacturer; BMW. The “Sport Evo” underneath all of that orange sported the adjustable rear wing and of course, more power. Other drivers included Wayne Gardner and Frank Schmickler.
#3 – The Bastos / Castrol
While the Bastos-Motul livery had been around since the beginning of the E30 M3s career, it’s probably best know for its appearances in rallies like the Tour de Corse, World Rally Championship, and Rally Isle of Man. Drivers like Patrick Snijers and Marc Duez carved out E30 M3 sized ruts in the dirt in blurs of white and red.
#4 – The JPS (John Player Special)
Your eyes do not deceive you. That is the same JPS-styled livery that coated several Lotus F1 chassis throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. Interestingly, unlike with the F1 cars, John Player & Sons was deeply involved in the utilization of the cars via the namesake JPS Team BMW. Apparently opting out of works cars, the team built their own M3s to replace their 635 CSi fleet in 1987. Because we’re still blown away by the brashness of it all, we’ll mention again how it took first in class and fourth overall at the heavenly Mount Panorama on October 4, 1987 by drivers’ Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst.
And now for the awarding of the “Favorite E30 M3 That We’d Gladly Wake Up in a Tub of Ice with a Missing Kidney to Own” prize. Otherwise known as the FEMTWGWUIATOIWAMKTO Award, we take great pains to be sure that we knight only the most worthy of this distinction. In this case, that worthiness is bestowed upon the Listerine/Securicor Omega Express E30 M3!
#5 – The Listerine / Securicor Omega Express
The British Touring Car Championship is likely as known for its swarms of E30 M3s as DTM was. Even today, ze German autos sweep the British circuits up like angry governesses upset that the children have again made a mess of the pantry. Why do we like this Vic Lee Motorsport car so much? It just looks cool! In our opinion, it’s only trailed by the classically liveried Marlboro E30 M3 rally cars. But we love its historic drama just as much. The eponymous Vic Lee pulled a John DeLorean in 1993 after £6,000,000 of winter wonderland dust was recovered from one of their car haulers by British customs after suspiciously numerous testing sessions at Zandvoort in Holland (Holland being arguably not-a-country-with-any-BTCC-tracks). Jalopnik has more on the scandal here. Considering the pink Listerine dragon on the hood, you’d think they would have been busted for more than cocaine, but don’t let the teams’ sordid history distract you from the gorgeous and bold Helvetica-esque styling of the black-on-blue Listerine/Securicor Omega Express E30 M3.
Tell us your favorites in the comments or visit us on Instagram to make fun of our final choice on that platform.
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We’ll be racing plenty over the summer so we can bring you more high quality content like you read above. Our partnership with Diagonalt is still new and exciting, like that of a new romantic relationship, so check out Diagonalt.com for classic BMW prints and coasters (16% off using code “RYE30” at checkout) and calendars for the new year.
Featured photo by BMW