The legendary E30 BMW M3 was the first generation of a car that redefined what a fast sports sedan was supposed to be. Produced between 1985 and 1992, it is claimed to be the most successful touring car ever, clinching titles in DTM and BTCC, among others. The video above is the first of five-part series detailing the evolution of the M3, giving an insider’s look into its development and engineering.

Outwardly similar to its regular 3 Series counterpart, the E30 M3 came with different body panels designed to improve aerodynamics and flared wheel arches to accommodate a wider track and larger wheels. It is powered by the race-bred S14 2.3 litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder engine, originally producing 195 PS – sent to the rear wheels, of course.

The gearbox is a Getrag 265 five-speed manual unit that came with overdrive for the US market and a dog-leg first gear and a 1:1 fifth gear for Europe; a limited-slip differential was also fitted. Under the skin, the M3 gained a much stiffer chassis and tweaked front suspension with added castor and redesigned stabiliser and steering, resulting in improved responsiveness, steering feedback and stability at higher speeds.

Over the years, the E30 M3 went through several different revisions, namely the Evolution and Sport Evolution, each adding aerodynamic, performance (the Sport Evo gained a stroked 2.5 litre mill that pushed out 238 PS) and handling improvements.

Although only 5,000 units of the road car needed to be sold for homologation purposes, BMW ended up selling nearly 18,000, despite it being one and a half times more expensive than the most powerful of the regular 3 Series at the time, the 325i. A legend indeed.