Video: Touring Car Star Thrashes Classic M3 Racer

Roberto Ravaglia and the BMW E30 are two motorsport icons which are inextricably linked to one another. Ravaglia, one of the world’s most successful touring car drivers, described the E30 M3 as “the best car I ever drove.” Its looks have aged well and the rarity of the car has made it a cult classic, but it’s the car’s pedigree, as well as the focus apparent in this footage that’s made it a mainstay in classic racing circles.

Perhaps the car is so enduring because it’s still remarkably fast despite nearing it’s thirtieth birthday. It had all the right ingredients: a 2,100-pound curb weight and, in this particular guise, a 1992-spec, 2.5-liter motor pumping out 340 horsepower at 10,000 rpm! It also makes a whopping 200+ lb-ft of torque from seemingly nothing, and the whining, close-ratio gearbox keeps that four-cylinder S14B25 making all the right noises.

Despite those impressive specs, it’s still hard to fathom a four-cylinder lurks under the hood. It pulls so smoothly and responsively out of every hairpin it might as well have twice the capacity. However, it’s simply a well-built motor—which happens to cost more than a mid-sized sedan to rebuild!

Ravaglia at Bathurst, 1987. Photo credit: eurocarnews.com

Ravaglia has no rust to shake off, and decades of driving brilliance come through in a series of assertive, measured, and stylish laps around a wet Modena Autodrome. Quickly, we get to understand how this underpowered car—even for the times—was able to punch above its weight and outrun turbocharged Sierra Cosworths and V8-powered Audis. It’s a legend alright, and seeing the man most qualified to hustle it around a damp track is a privilege.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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