Billed as the ultimate driving machines, BMWs capture the very essence of what a drivers' car should be. Rear-wheel drive, glorious engines and handling to die for mean pretty much any Beemer is worth a look.
Then there are the M-badged glitterati of the range; the real performance monsters that have car nuts salivating at the mere sight of that famous tri-colour badge. But which of those icons are true greats? Here Autoblog picks six of the best.
M3 Evo (E30)
The original and the best in many car nut's view, and we're inclined to agree. This was the first 3 Series to wear the mighty badge and boy did it deserve it. It earned its legendary status on the track and was built to homologate cars for touring car racing. The Evo was an even more exclusive version of the first M3: only 600 were made, it made 237bhp from its 2.5-litre engine and could crack 60mph in six seconds.
M3 CSL (E46)
By the time the E46 came along, the iconic M3 had gained a mid-life paunch and other hot saloons were making nasty 'chubby' jibes. BMW weren't going to take any of that so put its super saloon on the Atkins diet – out went 100kg of flab and in came lightweight part, such as a carbon-fibre roof, while 'useless' extras like air-con and electric windows were junked. Although the CSL wasn't that much quicker to 60mph, it was better to drive and with only 1,400 made, more desirable.
BMW'S first and only stab at a true supercar was this wedge-shaped slice of motoring goodness. The only mid-engined Beemer ever to be mass-produced, it had rear-wheel drive and a 3.5-litre, six cylinder powerplant. That lump pumped out 276bhp and was enough to help it crack 160mph. Only 456 examples were sold between 1978 and 1981, making it a rare, and thus very collectable, car now.
The M1 might not have been the success BMW had hoped, but that glorious engine at its heart soon found another home – in this. At the 1983 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW unveiled the M635CSI which featured the same 3.5-litre lump from the M1 but by now producing 282bhp. The sprint to 60mph was completed in an impressive 6.4 seconds and it still looks incredible even now.
M Coupe (E36)
It was the odd-ball, hard top brother of the top-of-the-range Z3M, but the M Coupe has become a performance demi god among car fans. Lairy tail-sliding action was a given from this hooligans' favourite and that's no surprise with a 3.2-litre, 321bhp unit slotted under the bonnet. The looks weren't to everyone's tastes, but that hard top made it stiffer than its convertible brother and the better car to drive.
Picking the best M5 is like choosing which one of your kids you like the most, but the V10 engine in the E60 helps it get the nod here. The awesome unit produces 500bhp, 520Nm of torque and fires it past 60mph in 4.7 seconds. Following in a bloodline of great M-badged 5 Series, the E60 was packed with technology such as a head-up display, seven-speed SMG gearbox and launch control. Not to mention the fact it was amazing to drive!
So those are our favourites - what are yours? With so many brilliant models to choose from it's hard to select just six, but we'd love to hear what would be in your dream garage. Let us know by posting your comments below.
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