Mate Rimac – yes, that Rimac – has been called a lot of things. Pioneer, billionaire, inventor, genius. It’s all technically true, but you can apparently add BMW enthusiast to the list. You don’t have to look hard to find connections to the brand – whether you started 15 years ago at the beginning of his company’s timeline or as recently as September of 2023 when he was spotted driving an E46 M3 CSL. Rimac – a passionate car enthusiast – and BMW are inextricably linked.

Rimac and the Electrifying E30

The man responsible for one of the fastest cars available today got his start swapping a BMW E30 3 Series with EV components. After the engine blew, Mate decided to swap in some batteries and motors, dubbing his race car the e-M3. Mate – by this time, already a patent holder for inventing the iGlove, an innovation replacing the keyboard and mouse – began breaking records not long after the car’s completion. The E30 sets five Guinness and FIA World Records for the fastest-accelerating electric car with the e-M3 by 2011. The record braking attempt took place on a 2 km long military runway near Zagreb on April the 17th, 2011. This same year, the Rimac Concept_One debuts in Frankfurt. Rimac calls his E30 BMW the “green monster” because the car made 600 horsepower, 900 Nm of torque, reached 100 km/h from standstill in 3.3 sec and had a top speed of 280 km/h.

Finding Mate’s posts on DIYElectricCar – an active forum still today – is like looking into a time capsule. His first post documenting the E30’s swap is telling. “My goal is to make a very, very powerful EV.” Well, mission accomplished. Who could’ve known in February 2009 that Rimac – then 19 years old – would go on to produce a 200+ mph hypercar that forever altered the perception of EVs?

Rimac’s Other BMWs

E30 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

While slightly less well-documented, Mr. Rimac has owned many BMWs—and apparently still does. As of 2021, his collection represented the brand well—an F90 M5 Competition as a daily driver (finished in Dark Graphite Metallic ), alongside a blue Z4 M Coupe and Diamond Black E30 M3 EVO. In a video with The Late Brake Show, Rimac divulges more of his illustrious BMW ownership history. “I owned an M6, the E64 with the V10. I definitely want to build an E30 with the V10 one day,” he says.

In the same video, Rimac shared his affection for the 1990 BMW E30 M3 EVO III, noting it was a dream car he acquired from Belgium once financially able. This model, unique in Europe, is meticulously maintained, showcasing Rimac’s care despite its slower pace compared to his Rimac Nevera. For Mate, the E30 represents not just a prized possession but a profound emotional bond.

Photo provided by Rimac

More recently, Mate was spotted by an intrepid car spotter, apparently driving his E46 M3 CSL to and/or from the office. This is right on brand for the man, who is well-documented as being interested in “emotional” cars. Quite the step up from an E30 with a blown engine. An engine he blew, mind you, while racing it. Last year, during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, we had the pleasure of meeting Mate. Our introduction was serendipitous, sparking a conversation between us, despite being strangers. Naturally, our chat veered towards BMW cars, and it was in that moment we witnessed his profound passion for automobiles. His enthusiasm wasn’t just theoretical; it was backed by his involvement in shaping an exciting future for hypercars, complemented by his appreciation for history through his own collection of classic cars.

How much of his hypercar’s performance capabilities and dynamics were informed by lessons learned from behind the wheel of a BMW? We’ll probably never have an answer to that. We’re just glad Mate found an E30 when he did. And we’re glad his automotive passion is apparently alive and well a decade and a half later.