And then there’s the engine. My car has a later spec, 158 kW S14 engine fitted from the factory. It is considerably more powerful than the earlier spec 143 kW version and the even less powerful North American, catalytic converter-equipped cars.
The engine in my car has a couple of subtle modifications. A Schrick camshaft, higher capacity injectors, a carbon fibre intake from the DTM racer (that makes the individual throttle bodies sing), and an Eisenmann exhaust system to let the engine breathe more freely. These upgrades probably push this specific car’s engine to around 170 kW, less the altitude tax that we suffer from living at 1 600 metres above sea level.
Performance is more than ample. It might not have the low down torque of its six-cylinder South African produced 333i and 325iS stablemates, but if you can keep the motor above 4 500 r/min it sings all the way to 7 500 r/min. I would hazard a guess that both the aforementioned stablemates will struggle to keep up at speed. As far as the sound goes, it can only sound as good as a four-cylinder can. But I think that, with the non-standard airbox, its induction noise is simply intoxicating. There is nothing that can beat a high-revving naturally aspirated engine.
Design done right
And then there’s the looks? Lets just say I believe that the E30 BMW M3 and the E46 CSL are two of the most beautifully designed cars ever produced. They are so pretty that I want to park them in my lounge to stare at all day. The interior design is also really good. It’s a comfortable place to spend a day even when compared to modern cars.
Room for improvement?
The brakes for one, leave a lot to be desired; it could really do with better brakes. The headlights are on par with other offerings of its era, which is somewhere around five lumens better than a birthday cake candle. The roof-mounted antenna is pretty daft and bound to eventually damage the roof. I have ended up unscrewing the aerial and storing it in the boot. The ride height could be a bit higher for our roads, but if that in any way would mess with the handling then it can stay as it is.
Close to perfect
I’ve owned more than 150 cars to date and driven many more and the E30 M3 is right up there in my top three. My top three includes an E46 M3 as well. The E46 just perfected what the E30 started and, I think, sadly it went downhill for BMW from there. I love this car. I love every moment driving it and even just looking at it.
There’s only one car that I recently drove that gave me a better driving experience, but since it’s not a classic, I’ll leave that story for another day…