The true and hidden history of the BMW M3 GTR, the M3 V8 that really did not exist

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BMW M3 GTR 2001 Strassenversion next to the model of the ALMS. The BMW M3 GTR 2001 is one of the chapters highlights of the history of BMW. Story in 2016 complies precisely 100 years since its foundation and also 15 from the German brand to develop the that it was the perfect weapon for the circuits of the American Le Mans Series, in addition to a compulsory version of street that, to date, is the M3 more radical and exclusive manufactured ever by the signing of Munich, besides being the first BMW M3 street on mount a V8, years before the arrival of the generation E92 M3.

But if the successes of the racing version of the M3 GTR are well-known, the history of the M3 GTR Strassenversion is full of mysteries and above all, as we will see in this report, misinformation and misunderstandings. That after three decades since its birth, have become the true biography of the model into a myth, formed by beliefs and idealized images that do not necessarily correspond with the reality.

To better understand the trajectory of this model we must going back until the end of the TWENTIETH Century, when BMW decided to launch a racing program in north America in the category of Gran Turismo with the M3, entering into a direct battle with the unbeatable 911 Porsche. This adventure began in 1995, and after years of being in clear disadvantage compared to the model of the signature of Stuttgart, BMW decided to take a step forward for the 2001 season. Until that time, the M3 had a inline six-cylinder 3.2-litre and the 911 with its famous flat-six 3.6-liter, but in spite of the clear difference of displacement both should share the same flange of admission, hampering the possibilities of the M3 GTR, which also had a center of mass higher.

so that BMW Motorsport used all their technology and relying on a thorough reading of the rules of the ALMS, created a completely new engine of eight cylinders and 4.0 liters called P60B40, derived from the V10 used by the brand at that time in Formula 1. This new method was not only more powerful, in addition to weighing less than the 6-cylinder in-line above and helped to lower the center of gravity of the vehicle.

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Derived from the V10 in Formula 1, the brand, the new P60B40 V8 weighed less than the 6-cylinder in-line 3.2-liter.

All that effort of technology if it is to be noted, however, the most amazing thing of all is that despite participating in the category GT, derived from models of street, BMW just had to make 10 units of the model in order to homologate the racing version. As a rule allowed to use an engine not derived from the model of series must make a cortísima print run of copies, and here is where the birth of the M3 GTR V8 Strassenversion, 2001.

The success of the racing version is very well documented, despite not participating in all the races of the season and having only a few units in front of a horde of Porsche 911, were victorious in 6 of the 8 testing calendar, obtaining in addition, 5 pole positions and of course, the championship and trademark riders. However, the known history of the road version, one of the models most radical presented by the brand, is riddled with inaccuracies which are universally accepted by media and fans.

Defined by the brand itself as the “real ultimate driving machine”, the note of official presentation of the M3 GTR stated in September 2001 that as of January 2002 would begin the manufacture of the street units, with a few specifications, strikingly more radical with respect to the M3 conventional. With the profusion of elements in carbon fiber, its weight in vacuum was 1,350 pounds, and in his vain front had a version something decaffeinated block P60 aluminum, delivering more than 350 horsepower to 7.250 rpm, about 100 horses less than the race version but without specifying the final number.

Counting with this exquisite mechanical rack-lightweight, in addition to the history of sports which it is derived, is the BMW M3 manufactured by hand by the operators themselves who were responsible for mounting the M3 GTR racing, was one of the models more rare and exclusive that we could find at the beginning of the TWENTY-first Century.

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His price was higher than the Ferrari most expensive available of its time and similar to the Lamborghini Murcielago, which was born shortly after.

And with an official price of 250,000 euros he was also one of the most expensive. At that time the Ferrari most expensive that was available was the 550 Barchetta Pininfarina limited edition, built as only 448 copies at a price of about 248.000 euros, and shortly after came the Lamborghini Murcielago, with a price that started from the 250,000 euros, both already registered in Spain.

Its rarity and price almost cuadriplicaba the M3 E46 coupe turned him automatically on object collection, as many media claimed since that time, adding that just some a few select customers of the brand could be done with one of the ten copies that BMW would manufacture the model.

however, the past fifteen years, the inconsistency and, above all, the disparity of the known data of the M3 GTR Strassenversion was that in this writing we asked a few months ago, where are those copies?.

This simple question arose after having a, so naive, conversation about the model with a reader and friend of this publication, Paul C. S., that he sent us a link to a recent article about the road version of the M3 GTR, because until that time the above-mentioned reader completely unaware of the existence of the model.

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The M3 GTR that appeared briefly in a dealer in Dubai.

After reading the article and during the conversation we see with amazement and in various media is claimed to conflicting data and by force, wrong, this version of the limited production of BMW. What made us to take an interest in the subject, starting what ultimately was to become a comprehensive research on the net about the mysterious model.

By doing a simple Google search appear dozens of recent articles about the M3 GTR, both in its version of street racing. This is because after years of staying hidden to the eyes of the public, BMW agreed to display these specimens in the exhibition ‘Legends of the Autobahn’ held in the summer of 2015 during the big week in Monterey, when the Pebble Beach Concours dElegance. In the event of the californian coast were exposed to one of the copies of competition newly restored team PTG, which had the decoration of stars and stripes you used in the last race of the year, the Petit Le Mans held at the circuit Road Atlanta. Next to this, was also exposed one of the M3 GTR Strassenversion.

Our search began among the dozens of articles on this event, checking each medium consulted proclaimed various data on the production figures of the Strassenversion. While some said they had been 10 manufactured in 2001, others claimed that the final figure came in at six, while others claimed that only they had been three copies built, giving also a different date, in 2002.

Our initial search yielded more questions even of those that we had in the beginning, but we made it clear that something strange must have, so we proceeded to search for other channels, including our own sources close to BMW, and the auction houses most prestigious on the planet, taking into account that with the amount of time elapsed since then, some trace we should be able to find any of these units.

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At the back we find a spoiler of carbon fiber.

But the surprise was great when we discover not only our own sources knew no more data than the official model, but after 15 years there was not a single track or footprint sale, either directly or in public auction, of any of these copies.

In this scenario, we proceeded to make all the inquiries possible in all potential information channels to exhaust all possibilities and gather all existing data before taking it to official channels. What led us to dive in all the social networks, forums and specialized publications well-known, which may contain material of any sort that might shed a bit of light to our questions, and although we do not find all the answers were able to determine the following.

there are No photographs or videos no copy of the M3 GTR Strassenversion belonging either to an individual or institution that is not one’s own BMW.

No any report delate sale, either through a dealer or in any of the major auction houses known, of any unit of the model in these 15 years.

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The M3 GTR to the left of the image, next to an M3 in regular production.

There has never been no statement or report from someone who has seen the model in the streets, in any part of the planet. However, there are a few specimens of the M3 E46 coupe conventional transformed to mimic the measurements of the M3 GTR Strassenversion.

Any means of communication seems to have tested the road version ever. We have not been able to find not only any article of test or tests, nor does it appear that I had any photo session, or even a static model. In fact, the only existing photos of the M3 GTR are the official ones published by the brand in 2001, and the rare occasions in that BMW has publicly shown any drive of the road version. Interestingly though, some of the media yes that came to test in his day the racing version.

The occasions on which it has been exposed to one unit of the M3 GTR street have been scarce. The last of them and that more time has been exposed to the model it was precisely during the exhibition ‘Legends of the Autobahn’ during the last edition of the Pebble Beach Concours dElegance 2015. Previously, the M3 GTR street had just been exposed on a couple of occasions, the first of them during the celebration of the Petit Le Mans in 2001, the last race of the ALMS at the circuit of Road Atlanta. Where according to various sources the vehicle was uncovered for only an hour after being re-covered with a tarp, loaded the truck and taken back to Munich immediately. The second occasion was at a dealership of the brand in Dubai, a few years later.

In total and have only been able to identify what appear to be four copies of the BMW M3 GTR V8 Strassenversion. The first of them the drive that appears without license plates at the official photos, the second one with the license plates “M FH 3924”, which also appears in the official images, and that was the specimen exposed at Petit Le Mans 2001, the third is the one that appeared in the dealership of Dubai with the plates covered and finally, the exposed in ‘Legends of the Autobhan’ the past year 2015 lucia to the plates “M 4477 Z”.

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The interior is very similar to the BMW M3 CSL E39.

All of them with body-colour Titanium Silver with the inside black skin.

After weeks of unsuccessful searches on the net, and with more questions than answers to the disparity of data on the model we decided to have our colleagues from the publication specializes in the German firm BMWBlog, whose extensive and specific knowledge about the brand and its history. could give us a new perspective on the mystery that seems to wrap this exclusive model.

although in principle the conclusions of our inquiries prior to the took of surprise, after a few days of expert analysis in the field were able to find what we had been searching fruitlessly since last month of march, the first statements of the own BMW on the actual production and ultimate the spectacular and rare M3 GTR street.

in one side of the profile officer of BMW USA Classic’s Tumblr, the division of BMW North America, LLC. in charge of the preservation of the BMW historic in the united States and the events related to the history of the brand, you can see several images of file of the model published in 2014, and in the legend of these snapshots the own BMW claims that only made 3 copies of the model, which remain the property of BMW AG in Germany, . And on the other, a press release from BMW USA is announcing the exhibition of the racing version and street in the exhibition ‘Legends of the Autobahn’, where even states that if occurred initially 6 copies, the first three were developmental prototypes, which were then destroyed.

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The M3 GTR in the paddock at Petit Le Mans 2001, at Road Atlanta.

so despite what has been universally accepted during these fifteen years, or were made ten copies initially planned, neither came to be placed on sale. Despite the fact that the specimen was exposed in Dubai sported a suspicious sign that read “sold”.

The reason for this disparity of opinions and data during these years is very simple. Copies of street were to be made from the month of January of 2002, but that date coincided fatídicamente with the change of plans for the new season. The Automobile Club de l’ouest, the body that governs the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series, changed the rules forcing BMW to build not only 100 units of the street instead of the 10 envisaged, but also that this had to manufacture 1,000 units of the engine P60B40 and enter both the mechanical as its elements in the parts catalogue official of the firm, that turned the program of the 2002 M3 GTR in the ALMS in a sports experience impossible undertaking for the brand, having to leave, despite being the dominant force of the moment. An advertisement later BMW summed up perfectly: “2001: Us we override the history books. 2002: They rewrote the rule book”.

This caused the program to full-out cancelled, making the effort of the development of the M3 GTR Strassenversion in-work vacant that was also removed, before arriving at the figure for planned production.

although until the day of today have come the successes of the racing version and those first data and information on the GTR Strassenversion, what is certain is that the premature death of the street units was never properly publicized, causing many media to give by the first valid official version, dated in the second half of 2001. So everything that has been written after that time has been on information, in part, wrong in part certain, which resulted in the merger of data that you called our attention a few months ago.

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Announcement from BMW of the time, ironizando their exit from the championship ALMS in 2002.

Currently, we can say that the M3 GTR was the sports limited edition, more exclusive and radical developed by the German brand, one of the most expensive of his generation, although ironically we can also assert that neither went on to manufacture as was originally planned or came to make the sale never, and that was in the shape of a few units that not have come to be seen together. Until the mark decides to post a picture of the only 3 survivors who were called to be the BMW’s most desirable of the story but that were mere prototypes, a sad reminder of the past glories.