For me, the number 3 has always been a lucky number.
I was born on the 3rd, my first BMW was a 333i, and I had 3 wives…. (no, I’m just kidding on that last bit).
When coupling the number 3 to the BMW badge, it enlightens a fact that is hard to miss. Even if you are not a BMW nut, you will admit that the 3-series BMW is a force. A force that is respected, and in some cases respected so much that car-fans of other brands would secretly agree that it is one of the best line-up of vehicles ever produced.
It all started with the E21, the first ever 3 series model. In Europe and the USA, it was a big hit, providing young and upcoming executives a chance at owning a slice of elegance. This 3-series provided elegance in a compact form. The styling was simple, yet it stood out pleasingly. The 6 cylinder variants were especially popular because of the boy-racers that live within all of us.
The recipe of the 3-series is today just as it was with the original E21. It might not be the same compact/small size anymore, a trend that is followed by all car-makers alike…whether this is because people are actually getting bigger and bigger all time I am not sure…(but that is a personal analogy and another topic for discussion all together). The 3-series is still simple yet visually appealing. It still provides class and drivable brilliance. And it is still a benchmark that many aspire to.
Now when attaching an ///M symbol next to the 3, it tells a different story, actually it adds a sense of magic to already pleasant tale. It adds a road going Motorsport heritage to the elegance. And the result is refined force.
Here in this feature are 3 beautifully immaculate samples of the M3 line-up starting with the E36, the first M3 that was brought to the South African market.
This 1994 model belongs to Rowen Singh and it is in a breathtakingly beautiful condition.
The pics (without taking anything away from the top-class photography) do not do this car justice. It looks as if it belongs on the Sandton BMW showroom floor.
Next, this super-clean E46 M3 is a 2006 SMG model.
Owner is Des Moodley and credits to him for keeping this sample untouched, and in a condition that allows one to truly appreciate a milestone in BMWs era - in building Sports coupes that can be easily used as a daily drive. A true example of ///M brilliance.
The E92 M3 pictured here belongs to Nicolas Zentelis.
It’s an almost brand new 2013 DCT Spec, and it’s in the most appealing colour. To anyone that ever doubted BMWs ability to combine style & elegance with performance & handling need to look no further than the E92 M3. As I have said before, the competitors ‘equivalent’ cars in this segment and price range do not cover the basis of a sports car as well as the M3.
These 3 fellows have brought 20 years of magnificence together to showcase a tribute to the legendary M3 label.
Yes, the M3 will still live on, but the 'M3' label will be reserved for the four door variant of the 3 series, and the 2 door versions, will be labeled M4. It’s a change that BMW themselves chose to go ahead with. Some of us are not comfortable with change and are therefore not happy with this and find it strange that BMW would make such a drastic alteration to their most successful label.
Change is inevitable. It is a constant. Everything in life changes. Some changes happen over a period and some happen in a split-second. We as humans change - in growth, in appearance in mindset etc. The weather changes. Even George Bush turned black…..
It’s just how we adapt ourselves to a new wave of change.
I think BMW have their reasons for changing the M3 to M4, probably to clearer identify their ever-growing model line-up.
However, this not the only change made to this new incoming model. The motor will no longer be a naturally aspirated one as has been for the last 30 years. Following the tradition started with the F10 M5s/F13 M6s, the new M3/M4 will also be turbo-charged.
And here so, we enter into a brand-new era with the car-maker that we have followed and learned to love for all these years.
I do however find it amazing that the change in smaller capacity engines coincide with the massive change that is happening or has happened in the Formula 1 circus.
F1 cars will be running 1.6litre Turbo V6 motors from the 2014 season, phasing out the current 3.5L V8 engines. Although BMW no longer partakes in this sport, it just shows that they are in-tune with happenings in the future of the automobile industry.
Do we think that the name change and smaller capacity engine will make the M4 slower or less capable in handling than its M3 predecessors? I certainly think not.
So we anxiously await the arrival of the ‘new benchmark of Automotive Engineering’ and the most successful and dearly loved of BMWs entire production line-up.
If you are still unhappy about the changes made to the new car, then as these pics show, the M3 coupes’ are still alive and kicking, be it a year old or 20 years old car. Find yourself a truly magnificent sample and enjoy Motoring Perfection. The magic will still shine.
A huge thank you to Sanjay Adjodia of Sandton Auto for offering up space for us to do the photography at this BMW dealership.
“Sandton Auto dealership is situated in the heart of Sandton, the epicentre of commerce in South Africa, and sells more than 100 new and used vehicles each month. In addition, it services 70 vehicles per day.
Sandton Auto was first dealership to be awarded 'M Certified' status and has achieved its targets in all areas of operation and has consistently been ranked among the top five in the BMW network.” Daytona Group
On the day, I had the fortunate opportunity of a brief 30 minute chat with General Manager Steven Lowth.
Steven has been manager at Sandton Auto for the last 2 years. We asked him some BMW related questions:
Q:What are your thoughts on BMW as an automotive vehicle maker?
“A BMW is a fanatics car. It is built by passionate people for passionate drivers. It is a cult car, and older models are becoming more sought after and classical.
A strong case of point was the E46 330i, It was bulletproof and became very desirable with tuners.
When cars fall out of motorplan it gives fanatics extra room to play with in terms of aftermarket tuning and additions. And parts are available.”
Q:Tell me about BMW SA.
“BMW SA wants their brand protected. They have taken a long time to build it to where it is. But, they should acknowledge that it is their followers that have created the extent to which the brand is at today. Without customers and clientele they have nothing. Customers should adhere to standards.”
Q: Your history with BMW cars?
“From the past my highlight was definitely the classics of which I had 3 x 2002’s and 1x 2800cs coupe.
However, my favourite BMW by far is the F10 535d. Its like driving your lounge with the matched torque of any sports car.”
With a laugh and a smile, Steven jumps to relating a true story about a diesel-powered 5 Series.
“I was driving a 535d, with my wife in the passenger seat. We were on the R21 from Gilloolys, and we were passed by a white Maserati Quattroporte at around 250/260kph.
Traffic slowed down after a bit causing me to catch up with him at the Marlboro Rd dip. I then managed to line up next to him at a red robot. My wife then turns to me and says “Don’t even think about it!” Oh, and did I mention she was 9 months pregnant?.
I left the vehicle settings in ‘Normal Mode’ and as soon as the lights turned green we floored it. We arrived at the next robot neck & neck. At this robot I changed the settings to ‘Sport Mode’ and gave this Maserati the hiding of his life. I think that driver was unpleasantly surprised. A V8 sports saloon being beaten by a comfortable diesel family car.”
Q: Tell us what you think about the future of BMW?
“There is certainly a very bright future ahead. The BMW team is pioneers in their thinking. They strive to guarantee Best Quality, Innovative Designs & retain the ‘feel good factor’ that their products offer. And with striving for a better future, they are still sticking to their basic roots of building ‘Drivers Cars’.”
Q: Your thoughts on the new M4?
“Well, I think they should have kept it as an M3. The M3 label has a huge cult following.”
Q: Any release date & pricing on the new M4 model yet?
“Not as yet, we all still await”
Another stunning M3 joined us for the photoshoot. This E92 coupe belonging to Megan Moodley is simply delicious. It is garnished with a set of 20” Vossen Wheels and full Akrapovic Exhaust system. We thank Megan for making the time and effort.
We were also graced with the presence of a gorgeous model, Shawnee Tracy Reid, who is truly gifted with a beautiful personality.
see more pics of Shawnee here
Thanks to Tyrone Noble for the breathtaking photography, and a big thanks to Mohammed Sheik Rassool for arranging the setup for the day
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