The BMW E30 is a compact executive car with rear wheel drive. The BMW M3 series was initially introduced on the E30 platform of new cars released in 1982 which was replaced by the E36 in 1990. BMW continued producing the cabriolet and convertible and touring range of E30 cars until 1993 and 1994 respectively.

The cars were powered by a range of inline 4 cylinder and inline 6 cylinder petrol powered BMW engines. The E30 BMW M3 was fitted with a high revving 4 cylinder petrol engine, the S14, which produced 175 kW and 235 Hp. The E30 3 Series was produced as four and two door "coupe" saloons for the South African market.

The BMW M3 utilized a widened and heavily redesigned variation of the 2 door body style. The M3 shares few parts with other E30 models and many M3 parts can be used on the other body styles and are interchangeable .

At the launch of the E30 range in 1982, the 316 used a 1766 cc M10 fueled by a carburetor and producing 66 kW and 89 Hp. It was this engine that allowed BMW to offer a cheap entry level car in the line-up. The 318i had the same M10 engine, but with Jetronic fuel injection, increasing the power output to 77 kW or 103 Hp.

In 1987, the E30 range was updated. At this time, the M10 four cylinder engines were replaced with the new, belt driven cam M40 engines, which also incorporated Motronic fuel injection. The 316 was replaced by a 316i, which used a 1,596 cc version of the M40, producing 75 kW or 101 hp.

In South Africa the old BMW M10 powered 316 continued until 1991, gaining the new plastic bumpers for the old chrome bumpers when the range was updated. After 1987, the 318i had a new 1796 cc engine M40B18 with a 85 kW or 114 Hp.

The 318 i.s was released in 1989 and this model featured a new engine, the chain driven DOHC M42 engine which was a 1.8 L 16 valve cylinder head engine. This was the most updated and sophisticated engine available in BMW’s E30 range. The engine has also been used in early 318i E36’s.

In total, seven transmissions were available for the various models of the BMW E30 which was made up of four manual gearboxes and three automatic transmissions.

A 4-speed manual was available for the 316 and 318i namely the Getrag 220. The 316 and 318i also had the option of a common 5-speed manual namely the Getrag 240 gearbox, while the 323i and 325i had a stronger 5-speed manual gearboxes, namely the Getrag 260 gearbox. The Getrag 220 does not have synchromesh on reverse as all other models had.

The M3 was fitted with a Getrag 265, 5-speed manual gearbox. This featured the world famous 'dogleg' gearbox shift pattern.

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