One of the rarest M cars ever built, the BMW M3 Lightweight from the E36 generation was the North American counterpart of the M3 GT sold in Europe. With just 126 units ever built, it was more exclusive than its cousin offered in 356 examples on the Old Continent, all of which came in British Racing Green. A new walkaround video from TFLclassics shows how the Lightweight earned its name through a substantial diet achieved by yanking out some important amenities.
Built between August and October 1995, the M3 Lightweight tipped the scales at less than 1,350 kilograms (2,976 pounds) after getting rid of the radio, air conditioning, and sunroof. Not only that, BMW took out some of the insulation material and removed the alarm along with installing thinner carpet to achieve a diet of around 91 kg (200 lbs) compared to the standard M3. It was also possible by installing aluminum doors as well as manual cloth seats.
That might not sound like much, but the M3 Sedan from the E36 era was already a light car compared to the subsequent models that got heavier and heavier with each new generation. For the sake of comparison, today’s M3 Competition with xDrive tips the scales at 1,809 kg (3,990 lbs) in US specification. Thankfully, the M4 Coupe will get a CSL version next year that will remove over 100 kg (220 lbs).
However, there was one big drawback to the M3 LWT compared to the M3 GT. The version sold in the US used the M50B25 engine from the 325i, which made 243 horsepower and 305 Newton-meters (225 pound-feet) of torque. The Euro model was blessed with the potent S50B30 generating a much more substantial 295 hp and 323 Nm (238 lb-ft).
As with many M cars from a bygone era, prices for the M3 Lightweight have exploded in recent times, even reaching six figures. The most expensive of the bunch was a low-mileage example previously owned by Paul Walker, fetching a whopping $385,000 (including the buyer’s premium) at an auction early last year.
These Lightweight and GT models weren’t the rarest M3 E36s as that title goes to the M3 Compact that never came to be as it remained strictly a one-off affair.
[Source: TFLclassics / YouTube]