The M3 had become a respected icon in sports car circles all around the world by the time BMW launched the third-generation 3 Series in late 1990. With the original E30 model nearing the end of its life cycle, the buyers and enthusiasts were anxiously waiting for the next generation of the car, which debuted in 1992.
Winning races sells cars, there are no two ways around it. BMW was eager to build upon the racing success of the E30 M3, and it quickly turned its attention to endurance series such as the FIA’s GT Championship. The series’ governing body mandated that at least 350 examples of each car had to be sold to the public, so the Munich-based car maker obliged and introduced the M3 GT in 1995.
Only offered as a two-door coupe, the GT was less discreet than the regular M3 because it was fitted with an adjustable lip spoiler mounted beneath the front bumper and a much larger spoiler affixed to the trunk lid. It was a love-it-or-hate-it look that many wrote off as too boy racer-ish; the fact that it was exclusively available in British Racing Green, with 17-inch alloys, and with clear turn signals up front didn’t help. There was no GT emblem on the trunk lid but both doors featured a small “BMW Motorsports International” badge.
The GT treatment continued on the inside with bucket seats upholstered in an attractive combination of dark green and black. A three-spoke steering wheel with an airbag came standard, and the M3 GT featured carbon fiber trim on the dashboard as well as on the center console. Unlike many of BMW’s special edition models, the GT did not have a numbered plaque on the dash.
By fitting the 3.0-liter straight-six with specific camshafts and a remapped ECU, BMW managed to push the car’s power output to 295 horsepower and 238 lb-ft. of torque, a tiny increase over the regular M3. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a ZF five-speed manual transmission. When all was said and done, the GT reached 62 mph (100 km/h) from a stop in a respectable 5.9 seconds and went on to a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h). In comparison, a European-spec, 3.0-powered M3 took 6.2 seconds to hit 62 mph from a stop.
Never sold outside of Europe, the M3 GT cost 91,000 Deutsche Marks in 1995. BMW claims that it built precisely 350 examples of the car, but some historians argue that the true number is 356.