Among a certain type of car enthusiast, the E30-era BMW M3 holds a hallowed place. For fans of European racetrack-bred street cars, there can be no substitute: The first-generation M3 is king.
Much like the original Miata, for some folks the answer is always E30 M3.
On paper, it's easy to see why: Take a tidy, driver-oriented, rear-wheel-drive coupe, add a naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder that lives to redline, strip out the non-essentials, and you've got a car that's at home on track days and windy back roads.
But BMW's first-generation M3 hit the streets way back in 1986. That, friends, was a long time ago; cars have evolved massively since then. The first-gen M3's 220 or so horsepower are outgunned by most midsize family sedans, and today's M3 is a twin-turbo brute that does 0-60 in nearly half the time it took the original.
Can the original M3 still stir those same emotions?
Our man Travis Okulski, , decided to find out. They say never meet your heroes, because you'll only be disappointed. Did the reality of three decades of progress take the shine off this hero car?
It sure doesn't seem that way.