BMW has announced the end of production for the fourth-generation M3 coupe; this orange car is the last one. The high-performance car which spawned the championship-winning DTM racer is ending its career on the road, with more than 40,000 examples having left the factory. The M3 convertible will continue in production until September.
With its athletic design and an overall package pieced together with hallmark M precision, the M3 enjoyed immense popularity around the world. Production of the M3 coupe—launched in 2007—exceeded 40,000 units, and the M3 sedan added almost 10,000 units to the total. Just under 16,000 examples of the M3 convertible have been built to date.
The fourth-generation BMW M3 was a trailblazer in its class when it came to intelligent lightweight construction. Playing a prominent role alongside the aluminium bonnet and plastic front side panels in lowering the weight of the Coupe’s body was its carbon roof. The use of this material on this scale represented another important step towards the industrial manufacture of carbon body components.
During the six years or so of BMW M3 production, the USA, Great Britain and Germany were its most important sales markets. In 2010 the Coupe also became a work of art when US artist Jeff Koons transformed the M3 GT2 endurance racer into the 17th member of the Art Car series. Koons’ creation was unveiled in early June 2010 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, before lining up in the Le Mans 24-hour race two weeks later. The M3 GT2 added another rash of victories to the BMW M3’s record of success, including five titles in the American Le Mans series and victory in the Nürburgring 24-hour race.
The fourth-generation M3 was produced at the plant in Regensburg alongside the 3 Series Sedan, Coupe and Convertible. Its V8 engine was supplied by the BMW engine factory in Munich, where specific production processes on the special engine assembly line ensured the high-performance unit would be marked by excellent quality and reliability.
Among the highlights of the M3’s production run were small-series variants of the car, which brought its race-inspired characteristics even further to the fore. The M3 GTS was developed as a road-legal clubsport-oriented model. The displacement of its V8 engine was increased to 4.4 litres, enabling maximum output of 450 hp. Bespoke chassis components and aerodynamic measures, plus a two-seat cockpit designed for racing use, prepared this special-edition model for competitive race action on the track and ensured it offered a super-intense M experience. Only 135 examples of the M3 GTS were delivered to customers.
The M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology) joined the fray in 2011 in a limited run of 67 units. Based on the BMW M3 Sedan and built at the BMW M GmbH factory, the M3 CRT featured exclusively manufactured lightweight components, a 450 hp version of the V8 engine and modified chassis technology – all of which resulted in precise handling. An innovative carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) manufacturing process was employed in the construction of the BMW M3 CRT. Its bonnet was made from two CFRP mouldings encasing an aramid honeycomb structure. This construction gave the bonnet the strength of a conventional steel equivalent, but at roughly a quarter of its weight. The bucket seats of the BMW M3 CRT were made from two CFRP layers wrapped around a recycled-paper honeycomb, and a carbon layer made using conventional production technology was added to visible areas. A rear spoiler and an air-channelling element integrated into the front apron (both made from CFRP) rounded off the exclusive lightweight elements.––Paul DucheneBack to News