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BMW's line of 3 Series cars has been a favorite of drivers, motorsports enthusiasts, and racers for over 45 years. Starting with the E21 back in 1975, the 3 Series has proven to be a perfect blend of comfort and performance on the street and track, and The E9x is no exception.
The fifth generation of BMW's 3 Series arrived in 2004 as a 2005 model, beginning with the E90, E91, E92, and the E93 (collectively known as the E9x) as the replacement for the popular E46. Many consider the E46 to be the bridge between analog and the digital age, and the E9x is credited with bringing the 3 series into the modern age both technologically and visually.
While the E46 had been available as a four-door sedan, station wagon, two-door coupe, and two-door convertible, they were all referred to as an E46. The E90 was the first 3 Series to have a separate designation for each body style, with E90 being a four-door sedan, the E91 arriving as a station wagon or touring model, the E92 continuing BMWs tradition of legendary two-door coupes, and the E93 representing the two-door hard top convertible 3 Series. These new 3 Series cars had many model names based on engine size and where in the world they were sold. Many of the designations had been used on previous generation cars and were already familiar to the general public including the 316i, 318i, 320i, 320si, 323i, 325i, 328i, 330i, 335i, and the M3 models.
The E9x platform had many other features that set it apart from previous and future generations of the 3 Series. It was the last 3 series that could be ordered as two-door with all later 3 Series models only available in a four-door body style, with two-door models becoming the 4 Series for the next generation. They were the first 3 Series cars to feature technological advances such as an electric water pump, and the first to offer turbocharged engines, but also the last to offer normally aspirated power plants. The E9x platforms M3 models were available as two-door and four-door models (the E36 had been the only other M3 to be offered as a four-door), with all subsequent M3s only available as a four-door model, and the E9x M3 was the first M3 to utilize a V8 engine.
E9x BMWs were available with a variety of engines featuring inline four, inline six, and V8 configurations, with gasoline and diesel choices for four and six cylinder models. A number of transmissions were also available over the model's lifespan including ZF six speed automatics, GM six speed automatics, seven speed duel clutch transmissions, and the ever popular six speed manual.
The E9x 316i, 318i, 320i, and 320si all featured normally aspirated gasoline powered four cylinder engines, with N43, N45, and N46 being the official names of the power plants. With the 316i producing 121 hp, the BMW 325i E90 producing 215 hp, all the way up to the 320si putting out 170 hp, these models were favored in regions around the world where small displacement engines are the norm. Popular gasoline powered six cylinder models such as the 323i, 325i, 328i, and 330 were powered by either the N52 or N56 engines and produced anywhere from 174 to 268 hp, which made them competent performance cars.
Diesel powered four and six cylinder engines were also available in the E9x models ranging from the 316d to the 335d, with the four cylinder models utilizing the N47 and M47 engines, and six cylinder cars using the M57 and N57 engines. These diesels produced between 114 hp with 190 ft-lbs of torque to as much as 282 hp with 430 ft-lbs of torque in the 335d.
One of the most popular E9x models amongst BMW enthusiasts is the 335i, which during its production run came with both the N54 straight six with two turbos, and the N55 straight six featuring a single turbo. The 335i in stock form made about 302 hp with 300 ft-lbs of torque, and is easily modifiable, so it is not uncommon to see examples built for the street and track that produce 400+ hp.
The E9x M3 was not only the last M3 to be available as a two-door model, but also the first to be powered by a 4.0 liter V8 instead of an inline six or four cylinder engine. Under the hood of this all-new M3 was the normally aspirated S65 V8, which would later be adapted for BMW M3 and Z4 race cars which were hugely successful in international competition. In street trim, this V8 produced up to 424 hp with 300 ft-lbs of torque.
While all of the versions of the E9x are popular drivers' cars, BMW produced several special versions of the E9x (especially the M3) that are highly sought out by collectors and BMW fans today. Listed below are some of the most notable examples.
BMW E92 M3 Pure Edition – The Pure Edition is an M3 that was announced in 2010 and produced solely for the Australian market. A wide range of colors were available for this model, but the 19 inch wheels they came with were all painted gloss black. Instead of just leather, the seats were covered in a special anthracite cloth mixed with black leather and were only available as a six speed manual. With only 50 coupes and 50 sedans produced, they are one of the rarest E9x models out there, but they are seldom seen outside of Australia.
BMW E92 M3 DTM Champion Edition – After an absence of 20 years, BMW returned to the DTM Racing Series in 2012 and was instantly successful, claiming both the drivers and manufacturers titles. The M3 DTM Champion Edition was announced to celebrate the occasion. This special M3 mimicked the winning race cars looks and featured a solid Frozen Black metallic color scheme with M stripes running down the middle of the car, and the dash of each car was signed by DTM Champion Bruno Spengler with the door sills and other details of the car matching his helmet design. Less than 55 of these cars were produced for the World market and the lucky few who were able to purchase them new were invited to Germany to drive their new M3 at the Nurburgring.
BMW E92 M3 GTS – The BMW M3 GTS was announced in 2011 and was limited to a production run of just 150 cars. All came painted in a shade of orange that was a visual throwback to the famous Jagermeister sponsored race cars of previous decades. Power was bumped up to 444 hp, and they featured a special titanium exhaust system. The rear seats, center console and door trim were removed, the rear and back windows were replaced with polycarbonate, and air conditioning was optional. Even with an added roll bar and fire extinguisher, the GTS is still 100 lbs lighter than a stock M3, and the V8 engine was enlarged to 4.4 liters. The GTS turned an already great M3 car into one of the best and most desirable BMWs of all time.
BMW E90 M3 CRT – The BMW M3 CRT is one of the most desirable four-door M3s ever produced. CRT stands for Carbon Racing Technology and this M3 features many carbon fiber parts including the hood and seats, making it over 100 lbs lighter than a stock E90 M3. Power is bumped up to about 440 hp, but these cars were not available with a standard manual transmission. Only 67 of these cars were produced for the World market, with none officially coming to the U.S., making this one of the rarest BMWs to spot in the wild.
The E9x carried on BMWs rich motorsport tradition by winning in multiple series all over the world with both two-door and four-door models. The E90 has dozens of wins and multiple championships in the World Touring Car Championship, a 320si claimed the 2009 British Touring Car Championship, and 320 models have also won the European Touring Car Cup.
After an absence from the series for 20 years, BMW E92 M3s won multiple DTM Championships starting in 2012 with some of the most extreme and powerful M3s ever produced. The E9x had many successes racing in North America in the Gran Am and IMSA Series, including a GT class win at the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring, and an M3 GT2 took the overall win at the 2010 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.
With so much success around the world with both four and two-door models, it is no surprise that the E9x platform is a favorite car to modify and upgrade as a weekend cruiser, track day car, or all out endurance racer.
If you are the owner of an E9x BMW and are looking for the best parts available to upgrade your car, look no further than Condor Speed Shop. While driving in competition there is nothing more important than safety, and Condor proves the quality of their products by racing what they sell. They not only carry the best BMW E90 parts but also have parts for all of BMWs most popular models that are track tested and proven. Performance suspension bushings, coilovers, polycarbonate windows, upgraded engine mounts, and even interior pieces, they have it all!
So if you are looking to make a few tasteful upgrades to your daily driver, looking to build a reliable and well handling track car, or are looking to build a car that will survive a twice around the clock sports car race, head over to Condor Speed Shop, order the best BMW performance parts on the market, install them on your BMW or have your favorite independent shop install them for you, and hit the track to find out for yourself why the BMW E9x is so great!