The first M3 GTR was built for the GT class of the 2000 American Le Mans Series, powered by a tuned, strengthened version of the E46 M3 road car’s 3.2-litre straight-six engine. Despite winning its class at the 10th round of the season, held at Laguna Seca, and with Prototype Technology Group’s Hans-Joachim Stuck and Boris Said at the wheel, come the end of the year it was third place for the BMW behind two 996 Porsches. The car went back to the drawing board, and for the 2001 season the straight-six was out and a fat V8 was in.
A 4.0-litre V8 with 440PS (330kW), the difference in pace was noticeable, very noticeable. During the second half of the season, the GT class was dominated by a factory M3 GTR with JJ Lehto and Jörg Müller at the wheel as well as the car of Stuck and Said from PTG. Many noses were put out of joint, and although BMW had built 10 road car versions to homologate the race car (yes, there are 10 factory-built V8 E46 M3 GTRs out there), the ALMS got so much grief from the likes of Porsche that the rules for 2002 were changed, stipulating that 100 road cars had to be built rather than 10. That was the end of the road, or rather track, for the GTR, but thankfully the cars are still running and being driven hard. At places like the Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, for example. And goodness, would you listen to that V8.
Now, let’s find one of the road-going GTRs… And if you like shouty V8s, remember to tune in for Goodwood SpeedWeek on 16th-18th October!