“Special Edition models sharpen the character of the BMW M brand and embody an emotionally rich and exclusive driving experience,” says Frank van Meel, CEO of BMW M. The new BMW M4 GTS joins a family of exclusive BMW M3 Special Editions which have been setting the pace for 30 years.
Production of the first BMW M3 (E30) got under way in 1986, establishing M on both the street and the track.
1988: BMW M3 Evolution (E30).
1990: BMW M3 Sport Evolution (E30).
The development of the M3 E30 reached its highest mark in 1990 with the arrival of the BMW M3 Sport Evolution, available only in Gloss Black or Brilliant Red. The new arrival developed up to 238 hp from its four-cylinder in-line engine, now with 2.5-liter displacement – up more than 22 percent compared with the standard BMW M3 at the time. The intelligent lightweight construction of components including the front wings, muffler, front spoiler, trunk lid and rear wing brought the curb weight down by around 77 pounds. The adjustable splitter on the front spoiler and 16-inch light-alloy wheels with Nogaro Silver star in the center of the rim were among the most distinctive external features of the BMW M3 Sport Evolution. Inside, the front bucket seats with integral head restraints, red seat belts and suede leather covers for the sports steering wheel, handbrake lever and gearshift lever knob underlined the car’s sporting prowess. Another key mark of this M3 version – of which only 600 were produced – was the “Sport Evolution 1990” badge on the center console.
1995: BMW M3 GT (E36).
2003: BMW M3 CSL (E46).
The power produced by the 3,246cc 6-cylinder inline engine, was increased to 360 hp. Modification of the intake air ducting was necessary to cool the upgraded engine, which led to the creation of a distinctive circular aperture in the aerodynamically optimized front apron to enhance the supply of air to the airbox. Externally, the BMW M3 CSL stood apart from the BMW M3 with its exposed carbon-fiber roof and special “Sport” 19-inch M light-alloy wheels with Michelin Sport Cup tires.
On opening the door, the two bucket seats and lightweight rear seats in an Amaretta/cloth combination immediately caught the eye. The doors came with carbon-fiber inserts, the M sports steering wheel had a grippy Alcantara covering and the center console was now of a more compact and lightweight construction. Another distinctive feature of the steering wheel was the “M” button used to activate M Track Mode. This adapted the responses of the power steering and the parameters of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) to allow an even sportier driving style. The modified Launch Control system helped the BMW M3 CSL to race from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.8 seconds and hit the 200 km/h (124 mph) mark in a mere 16.7 seconds. The CSL chassis brought magnetic pulse-formed rear control arms and some of the tuning work took place at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. The result of these modifications could be seen in independent tests. Indeed, the BMW M3 CSL set what was then the fastest lap of the Nordschleife for its output class (7 min 50 sec).
2010: BMW M3 GTS (E92).
The BMW M3 GTS came as standard with a bolted-on roll bar in place of a rear seat bench, and this could be optionally upgraded to a full roll cage. Furthermore, mounts for four- and six-point Schroth seatbelts were fitted. And finally, the fire extinguisher holder behind the front seats underlined the clear track focus of the GTS. The car’s racing ability was also enhanced by revised aerodynamics. A front spoiler with carbon-fiber splitter teamed up with the carbon-fiber rear wing on the trunk lid to reduce lift and ensure high cornering speeds.
BMW M GmbH produced the BMW M3 GTS largely by hand, with the cars built individually in the factory to customer specification. Type approval for road use in Germany was on a case-by-case basis.
2011: BMW M3 CRT (E92).
2016: BMW M4 GTS (F82).
The BMW M4 GTS sees BMW M GmbH not only celebrating 30 years of the BMW M3/M4 success story but also presenting a perfect model to mark the centenary of the BMW brand.