The contagion

The E30 M3 celebrates its Silver Jubilee at Pocono Raceway, and the enthusiasm is infectious.

August 31, 2012
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On the weekend that the irresistible E30 M3 was to celebrate its 25th birthday at Pocono Raceway, Hurricane Irene came bumping and grinding north, snapping off trees, torching transformers and floating the family SUV down Maple St. to the Burger King drive-thru.

But Nick Plakis is nothing if not unstoppable. The founder of the S14 Motoring Club, the 25th anniversary’s host, Plakis negotiated a rain date with Pocono; sure enough, two weeks later, 31 E30 M3 junkies streamed in from North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Canada—even Uzbekistan, for all we know. The S14 Motoring Club (named for the “S14” four-cylinder engine that powers the E30 M3) staged a concours d’elegance with catered food and live music. Twenty-five trophies (25, get it?) were awarded for Judges’ Favorite, Peoples’ Choice, Farthest Distance Traveled, Favorite Engine Bay, Most Sensible Footwear…on and on. Raffle prizes valued at $2,500 (25, heh-heh) were provided by S14, Turner Motorsports and VAC Motorsports. Everyone went home happy except the guy in the Corvette. (Which is just as it should be.)

But the Pocono weekend’s centerpiece was a track day. Perfect. The E30 M3 never looked more at home. Merely at idle, it seems to blur past at 90 mph–make that 130. Manufactured from 1988 to 1991, this coupe is one of the best reasons BMW gets away with calling itself The Ultimate Driving Machine.

We didn’t have to look far to find people besotted by the E30 M3—Nick Plakis owns six!—so we decided to gather some case histories from these victims of E30-Dependency, or “E30D,” as they’d say in clinical psychology. Surely some Twelve-Step program will come to the aid of these helpless addicts in their E30-obsessed lives!

Or maybe not.

The E30 habit

Roy Wicklund of Petersham, Mass. smiles when he relates his story. He took the slide into E30D innocently enough, he says. For his 50th birthday some years ago, his loving wife gave him a three-day pass to the Skip Barber Racing School. Like others before him, he headed to Barber having no idea how it would change his life, sapping him of non-E30 friends and dictating wild swings in his finances. (Isn’t that the way…) Still powerless to stop himself, today he owns two E30 M3s (1991 and 1989), three E28 M5s (both ’88s), an ’85 Alpina B7 Turbo, an ’85 M635 CSi and a hot-rod ’72 2002 with an M3 drivetrain.

Also from Issue 110

  • Former BMW Design Chief Chris Bangle
  • Drifting the 560-hp F13 M6 Coupe
  • F13 650i Coupe road test
  • First drive F30 ActiveHybrid 3 Series hybrid
  • Buyer's Guide to $8,000 BMWs
  • First drive 208-hp JCW MINI Coupe
  • Gavin Collier's big-bore 1976 2002
  • Don Dethlefsen's 1956 503 Cabrio Werk Shop
  • Art Deco 1937 R7 motorcycle prototype
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