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Like most of you already know, the new E92 BMW M3 was not the first BMW M3 powered by a V8 engine, but it is actually the first mass-produced M3 with a V8 engine. A V8-powered M3 existing in the past in a very limited 10-unit run that costed 250,000 Euros a piece back in 2001, probably worth more now as with all collector cars. That car was the E46 BMW M3 GTR. Check out the full story and video after the jump.

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The M3 GTR was produced because the American Le Mans Series required at an entry to be a production car, that can be bought by the public. Homologation rules stated that at least 1 unit must be sold, but the Germans decided to go ahead and make 10. Once that was over and done with, they entered their own race M3 GTR into the competition, and went on to win both the Drivers’ Championship and the Constructors’ Championship in the very year they entered the race.

Now, this pissed all the other participants because a 10-unit run is treading on a very fine line between production and prototype, so in 2002 the ALMS changed the rules to require at least a 100-unit run. If the car did not meet these regulations, it would receive a weight penalty of 450kg and 20% larger air restrictors. BMW had their fun, and so they pulled out of the race once these new rules were in place.

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The BMW M3 GTR based was a two-seater, and used carbon fiber body parts including the front and rear skirting, rear spoiler, as well as the roof. All form of comfort equipment was stripped off, this means no heater or air conditioner. All the weight reduction resulted in an empty weight of 1,350kg. The track version entered into the ALMS had an even lower weight – 1,100kg, which was the minimum weight in the rulebook.

On the track, it was powered by a 4.0 litre V8 engine with a 90 degree cylinder bank angle made over 450 horsepower, but road-legal specification called for reduced emissions and noise levels so the V8′s power was detuned to about 350 horsepower. Gearbox was a 6-speed manual unit with a twin-disc sports clutch, and there as also a Variable M Differential. The suspension was exceptionally low and was set up for pure track usage.

After the BMW M3 GTR’s exit from the ALMS, private teams continued to race the M3 GTR on the Nurburgring. It remained the most powerful M3 to come out of BMW’s factories until 2003, where the more powerful and lightened 360 horsepower inline-6 based E46 BMW M3 CSL took that throne.

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Video: BMW M3 GTR 4.0 V8