BMW E30 M3
The BMW E30 M3 signaled war against the Mercedes Benz 190E2.3/16V in the DTM (Deutsche Tourenmeisterschaft) race series. Both models were the pinnacles of the highly contested entry level German car business of the mid to late 80's.
This was a true fight against two direct competitors only separated by a stretch of Autobahn between Swabia and Bavaria. The FIA mandated a minimum of changes but allowed modifications to the drive train, engine and body.
BMW easily sold all 5,000 production M3's required to enter DTM. They even sold a few special editions like the M3 Evo II & III that took the formula even further. Engine displacement increased from 2.3 liters to 2.5 liters pushing 238hp. They also added enlarged wheels, spoilers, and fender flares to improve grip, stability, and drag.
On the racetrack, the M3 won many races and held the honor for the employees at BMW Motorsports Division. Don't forget these are some of the same individuals who helped develop the M1, M5, and the V10 F1 engine, which has shown that they can beat their competitors like Mercedes, Ferrari, and Ford (Jaguar) on a regular basis.
What does this all mean to its road going competitors of the day like the Lancia Delta, Cosworth Ford, and the previously mentioned 190E2.316V? It meant from a driving standpoint this car was superior. Ex F1-driver and newly hired Mercedes DTM racer Jean Alesi once rated the E30 M3 as one of most enjoyable best handling road cars he has ever owned.
Balance is instantly recognizable due to its 48/52-weight distribution. The steering is telepathic in choosing the correct line. The chassis is alive giving the car a personality, which is missing from many of today's mundane cars. With only 2600 lbs to move around, the quick and responsive maneuverability of this vehicle can quickly put a smile on one's face.