The M brand has a massive following especially in North America, with many models sporting the famed three-striped badge. However, this was not always the case. In the early 90s, BMW Motorsport was not a brand known in America.
Because of that, many E30 M3s sat in dealership lots as most buyers failed to see the luxury and comfort they expected from the brand instead of the motorsport prowess these cars exuded.
Mr. Karl-Heinz Kalbfell was the head of BMW Motorsport GmbH, he made a trip across the Atlantic hoping to convince BMW North America to bring the then-new E36 M3 stateside. BMW USA met him with plenty of backlash, noting that the new M coupe was quite pricey. That all changed when he met with Tom Plucinsky, product planning manager for BMW Canada.
Plucinsky felt there was a sales opportunity present considering the sales history of the E30 and agreed with the proposal from Germany. Through a series of loopholes, BMW Canada found out that European vehicles certified for use in Norway could be imported in low volumes.
In late 1993, forty-five cars were placed on order. With 43 of them already spoken for at a base price of about $60,000 Canadian, later arriving on the shores of Nova Scotia in January of 1994. Each car could have a full range of options available to the Euro-Spec models, including the entire colour palette. An individualized plaque was affixed to the inside of the glove box door and owner's manual cover to denote this unique model.
Powering these M3s were the S50B30, an iron-block 3.0 liter straight-6 equipped with an aluminum cylinder head, variable valve timing, and individual throttle bodies. Due to being a European spec engine, the S50 had a higher compression ratio of 10.8:1 and received a higher capacity oil pump with dual pick-up tubes.
The six-cylinder produced 282hp and 236lb/ft of torque. Backing up the exotic engine is a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic, which sent power to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential. The S50 helps push the M3 from 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds, through the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds, and onto a top speed of 250km/h (155mph).
Underneath the motorsport-bred coupe was independent suspension at all four corners with Macpherson struts at the front and BMW's unique "Z-Axle" multi-link at the rear. Braking is handled by vented discs all around with single-piston calipers and further assisted by ABS and an available traction control system.
17" aluminum wheels produced by BBS covered the braking package and were wrapped in 235 wide tires.
After the original forty-five car run, BMW M's new head of operation axed the idea of a continuous production run. Canada would later sell the neutered US version to satisfy the public and the elusive Canadian E36 M3 now goes down in history as the rarest production 3-Series ever made.