Behind the HYPE: The BMW M3 E30's Lasting Allure

The BMW M3 E30 is everywhere. From the cover of Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia Ultra Mixtape andthe rally-inspired M3 from Cactus Jack’s debut album Jackboys to films like Paid in Full and Ocean’s 8, the boxy coupé has gone from the race track to a pop culture fixture.

In 1987, the BMW M3 E30 had its racing debut and won more road races than any other model in history. The M3 E30 didn’t have much in common with fellow E30 models; the only exterior elements it shared were the hood, roof panel, sunroof and door inner panels. It was a widened and heavily redesigned variation of the coupé body style with flared wheel arches, a tall rear wing, a stiffer suspension and a Formula 1-derived, BMW S14 195 horsepower four-cylinder petrol engine. These enhancements made the vehicle unlike anything BMW — or any car manufacturer — had ever offered the public. And following successful commercial runs in the United States and Europe, the e30 M3 remains one of the most collectible and iconic models on the e30 platform.

Production of the M3 E30 ended in 1990 and BMW continued to make successful M3 variants of the 3 series line, but with its rich racing legacy, timeless design and impressive slate of big-name fans, the allure of the M3 E30 hasn’t faded but actually grown with time.

Discover how the car earned its moniker “God’s Chariot” in HYPEBEAST’s latest edition of Behind the HYPE.
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