BMW Motorsport began its history in 1972 with a mere 35 employees. Responsible for creating some of the world's most sought-after performance cars, BMW M was originally set up to facilitate BMW's motorsport program. BMW M took it in their stride to ensure BMW dominated the European Touring Car championships winning countless titles, along with a notable victory at the infamous Nürburgring Six Hours in 1973. This was all thanks to the first car developed by BMW M - the legendary 3.0 CSL dubbed as the 'The Batmobile'. A nickname adopted thanks to the car's striking aerodynamic features.
The first BMW road car to be blessed with the now iconic BMW M badge was the BMW M1. Launched in 1978, the M1 is the only ever mid-engined M car. It featured supercar looks, performance, and a price tag to fit – costing over £2,000 more than a Ferrari BB12 of the same era. The 273bhp M1 could hit 62mph in just 5.6 seconds, topping out at 161mph.
In 1979, the car regarded as the first proper M car for the road was launched. The BMW M535i was the predecessor to the E28 M5 and was a high-performance variant of BMW’s popular 5-series saloon. Powered by the 215bhp 3.5-litre M30B34 engine, it incorporated Recaro seats, bigger brakes, a limited-slip differential and a close-ratio transmission.
Four years passed and the M635CSi was launched. M applied its magic to the 6-series, fitting the new M88/3 engine which developed 282bhp and made the M635CSi good for 158mph. Just 5,859 models were built. The first M5, based on the E28-generation 5-series, set the blueprint for a performance saloon. It combined the best of the 5-series - comfort, refinement and build quality - with vastly improved performance. It could reach 62mph in 6.5sec and run on to 153mph; fast even by today’s standards. With luxuries such as electric windows, central locking and light alloy wheels, it was evident the M division were beginning to target the premium sector. A family saloon car developing this power was previously unheard of and it was a gamble that paid off for BMW. This is to this day at the heart of all BMW M cars throughout the decades.
Arguably the most crucial year in the history of BMW M was 1986, with the launch of the E30 BMW M3. The first M3s produced 197bhp from their high-revving 2.3-litre inline four-cylinder 16-valve unit. However, the later Evolution and Sport Evolution models produced 217bhp and 235bhp respectively. Zero to 62mph in 6.9sec, allied to touring-car-esque handling, it was a stunning package still highly-regarded to this day.
Two years later, a larger, more luxurious body shell meant increased power when the E34 BMW M5 came to the fore in 1988. Utilising the 535i chassis, it was mated to a 311bhp, 266lb ft 3.6-litre straight-six motor, later upgraded to 3.8-litres from 1992. With a top speed of 177mph, it was the fastest four-door saloon in the world.
In 1998, BMW M released the M Roadster and Coupe. It was a hybrid of the Z3 and the E36 M3 Evo, from which it took brakes and much of the suspension. The Z3 M Coupe, either known as the breadvan or clown shoe depending whether you were British or American, remains an enigmatic performance car with a cult following.
The same year saw the launch of the E39 M5, a car created in far greater numbers than its predecessors and built on the same assembly line as the regular 5-series. Power was now up to 394bhp from the new 4.9-litre V8 and 0-60mph dispatched in 4.8sec.
Hexagon Classics shares a deep rooted relationship with M cars and was one of the leading BMW M car dealers and BMW service centres in London for over 45 years. During this time, Hexagon was very well renowned for its reputation and specialism in performance cars and still is today – an ethos that is strongly grounded into the BMW M division. Hexagon retailed countless M cars over the decades – from the legendary E12 BMW M535i in the early 80s to the E46 M3 in the 2000’s – which was the third generation of the M3 and offered up to 338bhp from its 3.2-litre straight six engine. With a 0-62mph time of 5.1sec and limited to 155mph, it is considered one of the greatest all-round sports cars of all time and is highly regarded as a modern classic to watch for the future.
Hexagon Classics specialises in rare, collectable and future classics, such as BMW’s E46 M3, and currently has a trio of M3 Convertibles in stock – all with low mileage, a significant specification list and a perfect colour combo – perfect for any BMW ‘M’ car collector or enthusiast. These M3s all come summer ready in convertible guise with body coloured hard tops included too. To find out more about our selection of BMW M3’s or even all other classic M cars that we stock, please visit our BMW section here.