BMW M3 Convertible

This is the first generation BMW M3 that is available as a convertible or cabriolet model. At the time, this M3 was one of the first to reach the U.S. shores because until 1988, M-cars were treasures reserved for European buyers. Four months prior to the M3 Convertible’s release stateside, the M5 and M6 had made their way into the hands of American enthusiasts. The hand-built BMW M3 Convertible was limited to only 786 units ever produced, making this M3 a rare gem.


Based on the 1986 BMW 3-Series E30, and although it looked relatively similar in many ways, shared very few body panels except for the hood and the roof. Most of the new pieces are made of steel, though the trunk lid, rocker panels, and the front air dam have been molded out of plastic in order to reduce weight. The windshield has been bonded flush with the surrounding bodywork in order to improve aerodynamics. The convertible top adds some weight and reduces the trunk space, but allows for the enjoyment of open-top driving.


Inside the 1988 BMW M3 Convertible, its comforts list would do the most luxurious cars proud. Included standard are power windows, power mirrors, a power sunroof, and power locks. Also standard is air conditioning, a three-spoke, leather-wrapped Motorsport steering wheel, a nine-function trip computer, and a premium stereo system. Leather adorns the two front and two rear seats as well as the door panels and dash. Everything is in typical BMW fashion; the white-on-black analog gauges are easily visible and may be considered among the most legible in the industry.


Under the hood sits a naturally aspirated, 2.3-liter version of BMW’s impressive, turbocharged four-cylinder Grand Prix engine. This hand-built engine has four valves per cylinder, a tuned air intake and exhaust plumbing, and a new ML3 Bosch Motronic engine-management system just as a cherry on top. The 1988 BMW M3 Convertible has 215 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Hitting 60 mph takes just 7.3 seconds and can reach a jaw-dropping 148 mph, making it the fastest four-seater cabriolet at the time.


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