Well, this post won't be too long. Saturday morning was qualifying for the 1000km and I was the first driver to take the E30 M3 out. First off, what an absolutely amazing car. It's slower than what I have driven on the Nordschleife before but the driving is so pure. So pure I want to give it a detailed review of my experience.
As I got into the car it felt very much like an older BMW; smell included. Having owned numerous E30s the interior felt quite familiar. However, compared to the race prepared 128ti a week prior the cockpit was bare, simple, and old school. The only buttons I had to use were the windows, radio button (to talk to team not listen to music), kill, and the fire system. No traction control, sport modes, or anything of that nature. Not even a digital dash. Just good ol' old school gauges.
Leaving the pit box I had to remind myself a few times that it was a dogleg box. Which means first gear is down to the left, then you have second up top, down to third, to forth like you'd be going to a normal fifth, and fifth gear down like you'd be in sixth. This is great for a race car and after I verbally kept saying the gear and got use to it I see why it was a widely used design for performance cars and racing cars at the time. Though some pretty boring road cars also for some reason came with one.
Photo: Cannoneer Photography
Handling wise I decided to push on my out lap on the GP circuit to get some heat in the tires and feel out the car while I still had plenty of runoff and a much easier track. The car screams "harder, harder" everytime you push. The engine freely revs all the way and continues to pull while making a beautiful grunt from the individual throttle bodies of the S14 engine.
This specific car is not heavily modified, in fact it is fairly stock. It's quite soft and around the Nordschleife a joy to drive. Power wise it's quick but it's not fast enough to get you in trouble via the throttle. Any bit of slip angle is easily controlled with steering input and you really gain confidence quickly in this machine. It's a momentum car and requires you to really aim to drive it hard to keep up the pace. Like any momentum race car you instantly feel any small mistake.
Down the long Döttinger Höhe in 5th gear the car pulled strong and was a smooth ride. Unlike the stiff modern day race cars this E30 with its setup was actually quite nice to blast down the straight as I was able to keep all of my teeth in. It felt more like ringing the neck of a road car on a back road and just keeping your foot planted. Never did the bumps try and throw me off the circuit or yank me around.
To summarize my short but amazing experience in the E30 M3, the car is one of the most well balanced and enjoyable cars to drive I've ever driven on track. I am sure with more laps I could make complaints as that's the job of a racing driver (to complain) but this car felt right. Pure driving at its finest.
Unfortunately, in qualifying, our day ended before it really began. One of my teammates got in for his laps in the session and hit oil that was laid down by another car. He had no options, lost control, and made heavy contact with a barrier. Most importantly he was ok.
So, the 1000km weekend wasn't exactly perfect but I did get to turn laps on the Nordschleife in an E30 M3 which was an actual dream. I hate we couldn't start the race and hate it for my teammates but we will return again.