The history of M: The most powerful letter in the world

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It all started in 1972, when two ex-ford racing executives joined up with BMW, Jochen Neerpasch (an ex-porsche team driver) and Martin Braungart (an ex-mercedes rally team driver). They changed the sports division of BMW, which had been experiencing lots of success throughout the 60's in many racing cups with their new 6 series, into a seperate company within BMW known simply as M for motorsport.

The first M project was the 3.0 CSL (3.0 for the liters and CSL for Coupe Sport Light):

Engine: 6-cylinder in-line
Valve linkage: SOHC, 12-valve/DOHC, 24-valve
Displacement: 3191/3498 cc
Bore x stroke: 92 x 80 mm/94 x 84 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.0 : 1
Power output:430 horsepower at 8500 rpm
Transmission: Getrag 5-speed
Suspension: Front: MacPherson strut, aluminum
Rear: Semi-trailing arm, aluminum strut damper units
Wheels: Front: 16 x 13-inch BBS
Rear: 16 x 16-inch BBS
Tires: Front: 300/625-16
Rear: 350/650-16
Weight: 2341 lbs.
Years of construction: 1972-1975

Which won 5 European Touring Car Championships during its run, along with national championships in many european countries. CSLs were so successful they continued to win races into the late 1970s even though production ended in 1975 to make way for its successor, the 6 Series.

But the very first Car put into production by M, which could actually be bought by the general public was the M1:

Originally designed in 1978 by Giorgetto Giugiaro, it never saw any factory sponsored sanctioned touring races because of production and homologation requirments it failed to meet. It did however enjoy success by privately owned race teams.

The car was originally being produced in a lamborghini plant, and was designed by an italian, which explains its italianesque styling and feel. Its often described as an italian supercar with a german twist, being the twin cam straight six wailing behind your right ear.

Cylinders: 6 in-line, mid mounted
Capacity: 3453cc
Power: 277hp @ 6500rpm
Torque: 243lb @ 5000rpm
Weight: 3175lb
Max Speed: 162mph
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5.5sec
Fuel Consuption: 14.4mpg
Front Wheels/Tires: Alloy 7x16 205/55 VR16
Rear Wheels/Tires: Alloy 8x16 225/50 VR 16
Engine Mangement System: Kugelfischer-Bosh Mechanical injection

It ended its production run in 1981 and the world had to wait 3 more years for the next M badged, road going beast, the 635csi:
6 in-line, mid mounted 24 valve

Capacity-3453 cc
Power-256 hp @ 6500rpm
Torque-243 hp @ 4500rpm
Weight-3570 lbs
Max Speed-149 mph
Acceleration-0-60 mph in 6.8 sec
Fuel Consumption-10 mpg city/19 mpg highway
Engine Management System-Bosch Motronic


0-60 mph 6.6 sec
0-100 mph 15.7 sec
Top Speed 149 mph

This car was a regular e24 6 series with a slightly detuned M1 engine mounted in it. Now since the chassis was never designed to hold this engine, it had to be mounted at an dd 30 degree angle, The M balanced out the e24 chassis with a close ratio gearbox, a MUCH improved suspension and servo assisted brakes on all four corners.

The car was still rather luxurious though, equipped with power leather seats, climate control, and an electric sunroof, the sport minded midll aged business man was still in comfort as he carved corners.

Although it was a heavy car, it had great performance for the time. This put it in a pretty heavy price bracket, making it compete with the likes of Porsche with thier 928, and ferrari with their 308 GTS.

Now while the 635csi was tearing the road up from 1984-1989, M also released (in the same year) the e28 M5:

The e28 M5 is a four door sedan, featuring the same engine contained in the
635csi, the M1 engine. Id like to go off on the e28, but Id rather leave that to our resident e28 owner...Bav, anything to add?

Well, the M5 ended its run in 1987, but thank god they already had something out that would fill the gap left by the e28 m5.

More on next post....

posted by  Zalight

when is the next post???? I can't wait!!

posted by  jedimario

Ahhh, Nice sleep....So where was I?

Oh yes, the e28's M successor.

The e30 M3, hit the market in 1987, and the world was in awe: 1056.jpg

The first ever M3.

Cylinders:16 valve inline 4
Torque:170 ft/lbs.
Weight:2733 lbs.
Horsepower/Weight:14.02 lbs./hp
Length:171.1 in.
Width:66.1 in.
Height:53.9 in.
Wheelbase:101.0 in.
Top Speed:143mph
0-60 mph:5.7 sec

This car, simply put is a masterpiece. If Leonardo DaVinci had been born in the 20th century, he wouldn't be a painter, he would be a designer at BMW and has masterpeice would have been the e30 M3, not the mona lisa. But as fate would have it, ol' leo was born in 1452.

But anyway, This car was built with racing in mind, everything on it that loks so beautiful is there because of racing, its form followed function. The rear spolier integrated into the trunk lid is fully funtional, the famous wide body wheel wells are there because accoarding to rules in the european touring cup, the wheels and tires could be as wide as the racers wanted, they just had to fit within the stock wheel wells. Hence the bulges. Even the rear windows shape was changed from the regular 3 series for aerodynamic reasons.

Its performance for the day was spectaular. Because the car is so light and has near perfect weight distribution, its an auto crossers dream. A flick of the wrist and the car will slide, grip, change directions all depending on what you want it to do.

Sadly in 1991, the M3 left us.

But dont worry, The e34 M5 had been released in 1988 and was still there until 1995 for all those who couldn't live without M.
Wheelbase: 2761mm
Track(F/R): 1472/1495mm
Length: 4720mm
Width: 1751mm
Height: 1392mm
Engine: Cast iron (Block) Aluminium alloy (Head)
3.6 liter inline 6-cylinder DOHC
4 Valves/Cylinder
Water Cooled
Injection: Bosch Motronic engine management system
Gearbox: Five-speed with overdrive 5th gear
Top: 0.81
4th: 1.00
3rd: 1.35
2nd: 2.08
1st: 3.51
Final drive: 3.91

Front Wheels/Tires: 17x8, 235/45ZR17
Rear Wheels/Tires: 17x8, 235/45ZR17 (sedan)
17x9, 255/40ZR17 (wagon)
Brakes: Ventilated discs front, solid rear, Vacuum servo
Bosch anti-lock system
12.4in (font) 11.8in (rear)
Performance: 0-60 mph in 6 secs
Maximum speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
Total made: 12,249

The e34 m5 Is a classic BMW...Not meaning its a classic car (not that its not), but its a classic example of BMW. Its very calm, very luxurious, very comfortable, with the ability to go to the track and whomp on many-a-miata (SCCA Boys).

It handles like a giant four door would, the only difference is, that while its straining to make that turn it still feels complacent, as if you can keep pushing it, which is what makes it so amazing.

With 315 BHP and 265 lb ft at its disposal, this car was no slouch in the straights either. It was propelled from 0-60 mph in just about 6 seconds and the 1320 in about 15.5 secs.

Not bad fror 1988.

The E34 went out of production in 1995 and with it, the M5.

posted by  Zalight

Eberhard von Kunheim and Bob Luts joined BMW in 1970, when they were simply a small, Bavarian company (in fact, von Kunheim said at the time, they weren't really even a German company, as they were too small).

They decided to move upmarket, take control over their importers worldwide, and push their racing engineering. Lutz hired Neerpasch and Braungar and formed the M division. And he took back the marketing rights to the cars from the importers in Europe (BMW already ownd the rights in the US). Without doing that, BMW would not have made enough money to survive the '70s, or build the M series cars.

posted by  ChrisV

Then theres what I think is one of the most exotic bimmers out there, The e31 850csi: bmwe31850csi.jpg.w560h382.jpg

Price: $98,000 (1994)
Miles Per Gallon: 12/20 mpg
Curb Weight: 4240 lbs
Layout: Front-Engine/RWD
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual

Type: V12
Displacement: 5576 cc
Horsepower: 372 bhp @ 5300 rpm
Torque: 402 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Redline: 6400 rpm

0-60 mph: 5.9 sec
0-100 mph: 14.3 sec
Quarter Mile: 14.4 sec @ 100.5 mph
Skidpad: .89g
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Braking, 60-0 mph: 135 ft
Slalom Speed: 62.0 mph

This car is not a traditional sports car. In fact its not really a sports car at all, with a weight of 4240lbs its more of a grand touring car. That doesn't mean its a slouch though, It carves corners like a BMW should, and has deep wells of power that the car uses to overtake people on the freeway in any of its six gears.

It drives like a GT car with comfort and luxury at your fingertips, and a nice quiet smooth engine with copious amounts of power.

This car is for the business man with taste, and a need to be able to pull up to a meeting and turn a few heads.

posted by  Zalight

Next Up on the M timeline Is my personal favorite, The beautiful e36 M3:

Price: $40,000
Miles Per Gallon: 19.8 mpg
Curb Weight: 3150 lbs
Layout: Front-Engine/RWD
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual

Engine :
Type: Inline-6
Displacement: 3152 cc
Horsepower: 240 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
Redline: 6800 rpm

0-60 mph: 5.5 sec
0-100 mph: 14.3 sec
Quarter Mile: 14.0 sec @ 97 mph
Skidpad: .91g
Top Speed: 137 mph (limited)
Braking, 60-0 mph: 114 ft
Slalom Speed: 63.6 mph

This is it. The quintissential M3. This car was awarded "The best handling car at any price" by Road and Track magazine, found here:

It won this title against competition like the Toyota supra turbo, The 911 Carrera S, The boxster, the Dodge Viper GTS, The C5 Corvette Z51, The NSX-T, and The Ferrari f355. This car handles like its on rails, It takes turns faster than you would think physically possible. I find no greater joy, than taking someone who hasn't been in my car before on a freeway off ramp (you know, the big sweeping circle ones) at 75 mph, The tires screaming for grip and the G's pushing you into the door, but the car NEVER bites back. In fact, even then, the car will let you keep pushing it, and you feel confident to keep pushing it to the next level.

It is so accepting of whatever you do to it, You could be at the edge of your grip and change directions on a dime and the car does it comfortably without tearing your arms off. The reason this car feels so confident is because of the amazing driver feedback, the steering is incredible, you can feel every bump or hint of any change on the ground right at your finger tips and adjust accordingly.

And although its not the fastest car in the straight, it still hits a 14 flat in the quarter and sprints from 0-60mph in an impressive 5.5 seconds. But if you by this car for quarter mile times, you are not buying it for what it was built for, the turns.

posted by  Zalight


posted by  jedimario

that e31 850, i saw one of them at my schools car pool drop-off thingy, it was pretty cool, my brother thought it was a piece of shit (brother not to smart, i posted a pic of him in that post your pic thing) so i whacked him, :laughing: that was fun, and immature, owell.

posted by  Slapshot

The 8-series and the M1 have always been my favorites.

Notice that BMW didnt team up with anyone from GM. Gee, I wonder why :rolleyes:

posted by  SlipKnoT

I hate you.

posted by  Mathew

GM always has to get someone else to do something for them if they deal with other companies...sheesh :laughing:

Ford isnt guiltless either, lets not forget the Taurus SHO wouldn't of ever came to be without Yamaha :thumbs:

posted by  thunderbird1100

Yeah, but later on Ford started putting in their own V8s instead of a Yamaha V6.
But then again, Ford has also done things for British car companies in the past as well as German car companies.

posted by  SlipKnoT

I thought the 220hp 3.4L V6 in the SHO was purely Yamaha based. And always was.

According to this it was always a Yamaha engine...

I think Ford has had some good and bad with other companies (the SHO being good).

I honestly think and this is hard to argue against. Ford ruined the quality completely of Land Rover (in the reliability sense). Land Rover hasnt jumped much higher than 5th from bottom among autop manufacturers ever since ford aquired them. Jaguar hasn't been great either. Maybe Ford just has bad luck with the Brits?

posted by  thunderbird1100

Actually, reliability in Jags has gone way up since Ford took over. I don't know if the same can be said for Land Rover though. I don't think Ford has had bad luck with the brits. Ford is huge in Britain, and there are a lot of models that you can't get here in North America. If there are any brits browsing here, please confirm this?

posted by  Mathew

Land Rover has yet to move from the near bottom of the brand reliability list.

Jaguar I havent checked in a while, but from what I remember they werent much higher than Land Rover.

According to this 2003 JD Power, INITIAL reliability for Land Rover was 190 problems per 100 vehicles. Which put it at 2nd to last on the entire brand name plate list. It was only beat out by Hummer which had 225 problems per 100 vehicles. Jaguar had a good report on initial in 2003, only 122 problems per 100 vehicles putting between the best and average.

Okay now I just pulled up a 2005 3-year (long term) reliability list.

Land Rover again was 2nd to last with 395 problems per 100 vehicles with only Kia behind them with 397 problems per 100 vehicles. Basically very poor.
Jaguar had 268 problems per 100 vehicles which put it dead between average and last place. Basically below average/fair.

The Average for the long term test above was 237 problems per 100 vehicles. Top brand was Lexus with only 139 problems per 100 vehicles. This means that you are more likely to have a problem with your Land Rover within 90 days of ownership than a Lexus with 3 years on the car. Kind of, pathetic.

posted by  thunderbird1100

What about the 2002 M5?

Thats my favortie beamer of all time and ill forever wish i owned one :cry:

posted by  GonnaDie4TheGov

th1100 wouldn't know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to anything outside Accords and Camrys.
And he has apparently never seen a pre-Ford Land Rover or Range Rover. Maybe he needs to check out the book I have here on restoring Land Rovers... (which I got to go with the '88 Range Rover we just picked up).

And he probably has never worked on pre-Ford Jaguars, either. I've worked on a few and have owned three, myself.

But then again, he doens't have ANY practical experience if it doesn't have to do with stereo installs.

The problems with recent Rovers have mostly to do with the last of the overbored GM/Rover based aluminum engines, designed in the 50s by Buick, and the last BMW sourced transmissions. Ford has since been replacing the Buick designed V8s with Jaguar-designed modern V8s. Ford bought Land Rover from BMW in 2000 and is just now getting Ford engineered Land Rovers to market. In 2003, there were NO Ford influenced Rovers on the market, but there WERE many BMW influenced ones breaking down. By the end of 2004 in excess of £452m was invested by Ford Motor Company into new tooling, equipment and training at Land Rover's manufacturing plant at Solihull. The new Defender 3 was the first vehicle to be built with Ford's complete influence, and the new Range Rover Sport is the latest.

Of course, someone like th1100 thinks that changes in the way cars are built happen instantly upon transferral of ownership...

Personally, I love Jags, and will have another one. Would be just perfect in the driveway next to the Range Rover.

posted by  ChrisV

Sorry I wasa doing this in installments and haven't really had time to finish, still have the Mroadster, Mcoupe, e39 M5, e46 M3, e60 M5, The M6 and the future M3 I still have to write about....Eventually.

posted by  Zalight

What about the future m5?

posted by  GonnaDie4TheGov

I think you mean Discovery 3, or in North America, LR3.

posted by  Mathew

Oh I have to agree with you on that, I aboslutely LOVE that car, everything about it is exactly the way it should be. The extremely scary ride I was given in one by a tech at a BMW dealership is one of the highlights of my car-related experience (and I've driven a ton of different cars. Unfortunately not the M5).

The other day my dad asked me what car I would buy if given $80,000 and that was the one I picked, without even thinking about it.

posted by  Mathew

Way to iggy my statistics and go by soley the "initial reliability survey of a whopping 90 days of ownership". I posted what Jaguar did in 2003 for initial (not that initial matters as much as long term) and they did place very well. But in the long term they dropped way down to the dead middle of (brand wise) the industry average and last place.

Then you post some article about the X-Type, one of Jags biggest flops in recent years (in reliability and sales).

My dad once wanted a V8 S-Type...but once he talked to some neighbors about the reliability of theirs he was quickly turned off, and bought an RL.

Statistics dont lie, but you tend you.

posted by  thunderbird1100

You're right. I was just doing a cut and paste from a few different sources and didnt' check before hitting "submit." (you'll notice that part of the post was otherwise "typo-free" for that reason).

See, unlike some people claim, I do admit when I put something incorrect into a post.

posted by  ChrisV

I think they are coming out with a new Defender though. That will be SWEET.

posted by  Mathew

Its the e60

posted by  Zalight

Great minds think alike :thumbs: :laughing:

posted by  GonnaDie4TheGov

Still waiting for the next episode here...

posted by  Mathew

The e39 m5:

DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, BMW MS S52 engine-control system with port fuel injection

Price: $69,970
Miles Per Gallon: 13/21 mpg
Curb Weight: 3957 lbs
Layout: Front-Engine/RWD
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual

Displacement: 4941 cc
Horsepower: 394 bhp @ 6600 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
Redline: 7000 rpm

0-60 mph: 4.9 sec
0-100 mph: 11.3 sec
Quarter Mile: 13.3 sec @ 108 mph
Skidpad: .90g
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Braking, 60-0 mph: 129 ft
Slalom Speed: 64.7 mph

Yep, its the crowd pleaser.

The e39 M5 is widely hailed as one of the most beautiful, comfortable, powerful, and just plain sexy BMWs ever made. It was the first BMW to come with an 8 cylinder engine, or a V configuration for that matter. It was, when it came out, literally the most poweful Sedan in the world, beating out its closest competiton by more then 30 horsepower.

The car is classy, with a huge luxurious interior, rich leather, wood paneling, and understated looks. But that is the point of the car, you are supposed to be able to drive your boss to a bussiness meeting and impress him with your taste, but then go to the track on the weekend and tear up a Porsche or 2, or 5, or 10. Because this call not only handles like an M should, but its break neck fast as well, with a 0-60 of 4.9 and a quarter mile of 13.3, this car can kick it in the straights like a V8...Oh wait it is...

"M's starting point for the new M5 was the 540i 6-Speed sedan. The 540i is powered by an already brilliant V8 engine, the M62 4.4-liter DOHC 32 valve unit developing 282 horsepower. But M's engineers have a tradition to uphold: elevating BMW engines to even greater levels of technological innovation.

To this end, M developed a new version of the V8 engine, endowing it with exciting new technologies. Called the S62, this engine is the new masterpiece of M Power. The M5 engine takes M Power to a new level. Its key features reflect the care with which BMW M uses to develop an already powerful BMW engine into a full-on sports powerplant. The M5 engine develops 394 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque at 3,800 rpm."

-BMWs presentation of the e39 M5 at the Munich auto show in 1997

posted by  Zalight

:drool: :drool: :drool: :drool: :drool: :drool: :drool:

posted by  GonnaDie4TheGov

What about the M1, can't forget that beauty :wink2:

posted by  99integra

Yes the E39 M5. My absolute favorite. I helped change a clutch in one, when I did my college work term at a BMW dealership. Taking the exhaust out was crazy, just the size of the pipes and mufflers was nuts.

posted by  Mathew

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