The M3 GTR name is most closely associated with BMW‘s V8-powered, E46-based racer of the early 2000s and the subsequent road cars. As far as millennial car enthusiasts go, Need For Speed: Most Wanted can be blamed for that.
There was an E36 GTR long before that, though. It’s even rarer than the E46 GTR since BMW only made four. There were a couple made for the ADAC GT series, one for endurance racing, and one road-legal example built for homologation purposes. BMW still owns the lot of them, as far as we know, but if you’re desperate to buy one, this is the next best thing.
Originally a European-spec E36 M3 road car, this ‘GTR Tribute’ was comprehensively rebuilt between 2018 and 2020 into an FIA-spec racer. Every single one of the original body panels was binned in favour of composite panels modelled on the real GTR, and there’s a spare set plus the moulds included in the sale. Sitting on the boot lid is an adjustable carbon fibre wing.
Under that lightweight skin is a set of Öhlins three-way adjustable dampers, working with Wisefab suspension components allowing for comprehensive suspension geometry adjustment. Punchy stoppers from Compbrake have gone in at each corner, along with a new pedal box from the same company that sits in front of a Sparco Circuit GRP Light seat with a six-point harness. There’s also a faster steering rack and a new electric power steering setup.
A set of 17-inch Team Dynamics wheels shod in Michelin slick tyres round off the chassis changes. Where the real party starts is under the bonnet - there’s an S50 inline-six which has been enlarged from 3.0 to 3.2 litres, now matching the bore and stroke of the E46 M3’s S54.
Inside it are beefed-up internals from Artman racing, including higher compression pistons and a forged stroker crankshaft. Thanks to that custom carbon fibre intake, it’s also an immensely good-looking engine. Feeding it all is a pair of fuel pumps and a 120-litre FIA-certified fuel tank.
According to dyno results, it’s good for 388bhp at 7500rpm, with the peak torque sitting at 301lb ft - a very healthy output for a car weighing 1192kg despite packing a chunky steel roll cage. Decent power, low weight and all those chassis mods and aero make for a supremely fast car on track, with the ‘Tribute’ steered around the Audru Ring by former Estonian Formula 4 champ Sten Pentus in 1min 16sec not so long ago.
That’s a second off a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, and a mere five seconds shy of the lap record, currently held by a Ligier LMP3 machine.
Having sunk around €150,000 into the GTR, the current owner doesn’t seem to have used it a whole lot. It did a couple of test days in Estonia, after which it had an engine rebuild. Collecting Cars is auctioning the M3 online, with the bidding currently on €16,000 with 32 hours to go (ending on the evening of 30 April).
What tracks would you want to take this beast on?