The current BMW M was born as BMW Motorsport, so celebrating its 50 years of birth we go through its best models and their most special milestones on the circuits of the world throughout this time, because the engineering and technology that is applied for racing is then passed on to street models.
BMW 3.0 CSL, the King of Touring Cars
With the CSL the foundation stone was laid for a great tower of successes in competition and road models of BMW M, which was born in 1972 as BMW Motorsport GmbH, and created this racing version based on the 3.0 CS. Manufactured by Karmann, the addition of the L to the name meant lighter weight, with a slimmer body and with aluminum as an element for the doors and bonnets, and a bespoke aerodynamic package was designed, with that spoiler that earned it the nickname of the “batmobile”. The engine was gaining displacement over time and therefore power, reaching almost 210 hp.
In competition he was the undisputed king in the European Touring Car Championship, winning six consecutive years from 1973 to 1979. But he not only dominated sprint races, in endurance overall victories were achieved in 1975 at the 12 Hours of Sebring, the following year in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and at Le Mans three victories in its category in 1973, 74 and 77. In addition, it has the honor of being the first BMW Art Car, specifically the car with the number 93 that ran at Le Mans in 75 and which decorated for the story Alexander Calder.
BMW M1 Procar
Designed to be a racing car from birth, the mid-engined BMW M1 soon became a legend for breaking the mold. The 3.5-litre inline-six M88 engine went from 277bhp to 500bhp in the Group 4 spec M1 Procar. 1978, with a 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5s and a top speed of 300 km/h.
He was a clear dominator in the American IMSA GTO championship, with a season-ending first and second place finish in 1981. Only one driver in the top 10 that year did not drive an M1. In addition, in 1979 and 1980, together with F1, the Procar Series was held, where 19 renowned touring car drivers raced against the 5 fastest F1 drivers in Friday practice, with Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet as winners of both years, whose prize could not be other than a street M1. A total of 399 street M1s and 56 Procars were built.
BMW M3 E30
The first BMW M3 was born to homologate a competition tourism, a compact coupé that soon began to win titles. The naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine produced 300 hp, up to 380 in its final versions. The suspension was fully adjustable, and the powerful brakes ensured precision on the track for the drivers.
The BMW M3 E30 can be considered the most successful Group A touring car of all time. In 1987 Roberto Ravaglia won the WTCC and in the European Championship the first two places were for an M3. The DTM conquered it from 1987 to 1989. But the key year was 1988, the E30 did first and second in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, the same result as in the famous Macau race.
BMW M3 E46 GTR
Since its arrival, the BMW M3 E46 like its predecessors became a racing car. However, BMW Motorsport created a special version in order to win the ALMS championship in North America, the BMW M3 GTR. This version changed, among other elements, the traditional in-line six-cylinder engine for a V8, a block called P60B40, derived from the Formula 1 V10 block, which reached up to 500 hp.
In 2001 the BMW M3 GTR swept North America, winning six of the eight races it entered and thus securing the manufacturers’ title. For the following year the regulations were changed, but history could no longer be rewritten. The BMW M3 GTR was officially leaving the competition, but made its mark for the last time with two one-two finishes at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 2004 and 2005.
Single-seaters: BMW Williams F1, Sauber F1 and BMW iFE.18
BMW Motorsport has not only been nourished by touring cars, in its history there are success stories in single-seater categories, such as the queen of them all, Formula 1, and also its electric sister, Formula E.
Between 2000 and 2005, BMW was in charge of manufacturing the engines for the BMW Williams F1 Team. The BMW E41 engine was a naturally aspirated 3.0-litre V10 and made its debut at the Australian Grand Prix with a third position in the race. It was the best start for an F1 engine manufacturer in 30 years.
During these six seasons, BMW achieved, as its most relevant successes, two third places and two second places in the F1 Constructors’ Championship. In addition to nine Grand Prix victories with drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher.
After several years as an engine supplier, BMW Sauber was born in 2006, the first official team of the house. It starts in the era of naturally aspirated V8s, participating with the BMW F1 0.6, F1.07, F1 0.8 and F1 0.9 until 2009, achieving a total of 17 podiums with drivers such as Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, including victory at the Canadian GP in 2008.
On street circuits for electric single-seaters BMW has been present for 7 exciting seasons. The first four as a partner of the Andretti Formula E team and from the fifth season as an official brand. Here debuted the first 100% electric single-seater from BMW Motorsport, the BMW iFE.18, the second generation of the 370 hp, lighter and more compact Formula E racing car. The drivers achieved several victories and podiums, and the engineers a lot of experience and information for the future sustainable mobility of BMW i.
Heroes of the Resistance: V12 LMR and McLaren F1
BMW has been a Formula 1 motorist, and had also given its heart to the innovative and excellent McLaren F1 in 1992. The block is the renowned S70/2, 12-cylinder V with 6.1 liters of displacement that delivered 630 hp and 650 Nm, associated with a six-speed manual gearbox. Three years after its debut, the F1 premiered at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTR version, with 600 hp by regulation, and after an intense and eventful race the #59 F1 GTR with the BMW engine won in its debut after an exhibition piloting and reliable mechanics.
Le Mans, the race of the races, should be in the list of winners of BMW Motorsport, an achievement that came in 1999. That year the BMW V12 LMR, a prototype boat equipped with a 580 hp naturally aspirated V12, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans , with drivers Pierluigi Martini, Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock at the wheel of the car wearing number #15. The V12 LMR also claimed six wins in the two seasons it contested in the American Le Mans Series. On a technical level, it marked a before and after with the design of a single roll-over protection hump that improved aerodynamic flow, since the following Le Mans prototypes included that design until 2006.
The GT3, guarantee of success: BMW Z4 GT3, M6 GT3, M4 GT3
BMW Motorsport and GT3 are synonymous with victories. In 2010 the BMW Z4 GT3 was introduced, the weapon for endurance racing and GT championships. It had a hardtop and the 4.4 L V8 engine that produced up to 535 hp, leaving the six cylinder for the street model. It was lighter and shorter than its rivals, with a transaxle configuration and highly studied aerodynamics. It won the Dubai 24 Hours, was second in the Spa 24 Hours, won the Japan Super GT, and was heavily used by privateer teams even when its replacement arrived.
Said replacement was the BMW M6 GT3, which was presented in 2015. BMW returned to using the 4.4 L V8 biturbo engine, and BMW once again demonstrated its experience and level with a hat trick in the 2016 VLN Endurance Championship race at the Nürburgring, a victory in the 24 Hours of Spa and a second place in the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 2017. His record does not end there, in 2018 he conquers the Asia Le Mans Series, he makes a first and second place in Spa, but it is in 2020 when finally wins the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, including a third place. He says goodbye in 2021 with a third place at the Nürburgring.
Now it’s the turn of the latest generation BMW M4 GT3, offering BMW M Motorsport drivers from all over the world the opportunity to fight for victories and titles with the new GT3 model based on the latest M4. Compared to its successor, it is easier to drive, cheaper for the teams and performs better in the race. The BMW M4 GT3 also takes on international GT3 competition in the IMSA series’ new GTD-PRO class. It uses the P58 block of six cylinders in line biturbo that can reach up to 590 CV according to the regulations.
The BMW M3 DTM (Spengler) and the BMW M4 DTM (Witmann)
After the end of the original DTM in 1993, nine years later BMW Motorsport returned to the German touring car championship, coinciding with the presence of the E90 generation of the M3. Based on the E92 coupé body, the M3 DTM used the same naturally aspirated 4.0-litre V8, but with 480 hp. In 2012 Bruno Spengler at BMW Team Schnitzer took victory that year with six podium finishes, of which four were victories, also winning the manufacturers’ title for BMW. In 2013 BMW was second in the title fight, and its drivers second and third in the championship.
However, in 2014 a new generation of M3 arrived, the F80, now with the coupé model differentiated in terminology, giving birth to the M4. That base was used to create the M4 DTM, which kept the V8 racing engine. That season it was won by Marco Wittman and his BMW, with four wins and one second place.
BMW M8 GTLM
Presented at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the BMW M8 GTLM or GTE was the successor to the successful M6 GTLM, sharing the Gran Tourer DNA for competition, but with the difference that it was not part of the M8, but was developed in parallel. alongside the road model, being the first BMW Motorsport model designed from scratch with LM/GTE homologation. The transmission was transaxle and the central front engine was the V8 biturbo with up to 600 hp.
The BMW M8 GTLM made its debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona finishing without problems, and the first podium finish comes at the 12 Hours of Sebring, perfect preparations to face the 2018 WEC season. The first victory comes in Virginia in the framework of the IMSA championship, and the second in Laguna Seca, in the GTLM category. The M8 competes on two continents at the same time, with podiums in Fuji and Road Atlanta, demonstrating its potential and level, and a year after its debut it wins the 24 Hours at Daytona. In 2020 the M8 GTE wins the driver’s title and record in the GTLM category of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, and in 2021 it retires with another round of podiums on the American continent.
BMW M Hybrid V8 LMHD
BMW M Motorsport returns in 2023 to a favorite terrain, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, in the hands of the BMW M Hybrid V8, but not only that, this powerful hybrid hypercar will also fight for the WEC top category crown in 2024, in the Hypercar class, including the racing race, Le Mans.
Designed to be recognized as a model of the brand, but taking full advantage of the regulations of the championships, the M Hybrid V8 is an imposing racing car that also honors 50 years of BMW M with its test livery. It makes use of a V8 derived from the DTM, biturbo, and integrated into an efficient and forceful hybrid system to reach the maximum power in the category, almost 700 CV.