The 7 most iconic BMW cars of all time

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4. BMW Z8
Launched: 1999
Claim to fame: This brings us to the roadster that was built as the spiritual successor to the 507 Roadster – The BMW Z8. Introduced at the turn of the millennium, it is hard to believe that the stunning roadster was in production for just four years between 1999 and 2003. Designed by world famous Danish designer Henrik Fisker, the BMW Z8 is considered as one of his finest creations. In fact, the Z8 earned him an international reputation overnight. Powered by a 4.9-liter V8 that made 400 horsepower and 370 lb-ft, the Z8 was priced at $128,000 making it exorbitantly expensive. In addition to the appealing exterior design, the high-performance roadster featured a number of interior design innovations such as center-mounted dials in the cockpit. Only 5,703 of these roadsters were ever made and it also starred in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

3. BMW M3 E30
Launched: 1986
Claim to fame: This is where the legacy of high-performance versions of the everyday saloon cars built by BMW’s M division all began. The first-generation M3 holds a hallowed place in the history of BMW and even after three decades, it is considered as the king of all M3 models produced till date. Designed in the mid-1980s, the E30 M3 is an absolute legend amongst automotive enthusiasts and BMW fans. Originally, the M3 was created for homologation purposes in the DTM racing series. Nestled in an unassuming 3-Series shell, the shortened-stroke M3 motor put down more power than the 325 making people discover their love for higher performance. The 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine in some of the street-legal M3s made as much as 220 horsepower from the factory. However, in full race trim, the naturally aspirated S14 engine produced approximately 300 hp. But it was not all about the engine upgrade alone; starting life as a 3 Series coupe, the M3 received upgraded aerodynamics, suspension components, drivetrain parts and brakes.

2. BMW M1
Launched: 1978
Claim to fame: The M models of the Bavarian carmaker are legendary for sports fans worldwide, and it all started with this car – the BMW M1. It is the first car produced by the BMW’s M-division and also the company’s only mid-engine vehicle to date. Introduced in 1978, the mid-engine M1 sports car is one of the most visually striking cars ever to come from BMW and many might even mistake it for a Lamborghini or a Lotus. That is because the legendary Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro designed it and BMW originally commissioned Lamborghini to work out the details of the car’s chassis, assemble prototypes and manufacture the vehicles. It was hand-built between 1978 and 1981 under the Motorsport division of BMW as a homologation special for sports car racing. The BMW M1 has earned itself a legendary status and considered as one of the most iconic cars ever built. The Giugiaro-designed styling and the fact that only 453 were ever built make the BMW M1 a very rare and desirable collector’s car. A BMW M1 in good condition can fetch as much as a million dollars.

1. BMW E9 3.0CSL
Launched: May 1972
Claim to fame: This brings us to the last BMW model on this list, one of the most legendary racing cars the Bavarian automaker has ever built – the BMW E9 3.0CSL. The early efforts by BMW in competitive racing, run mainly by independent tuner Alpina, were not too successful. However, the introduction of this particular car, which was based on the E9 two-door coupé built for BMW by Karmann from 1968 to 1975, changed the fortunes of the German marquee. The ‘L’ in the name stands for leicht (light) as the company was able to reduce the weight by more than 300 pounds (140 kg) from the E9’s curb weight using thinner-gauge steel, plastic windows, and many aluminum parts. The weight saving measures along with the wild aero kit developed by BMW and Alpina turned it into a very competitive car. The wild-looking array of wings and spoilers earned it the nickname ‘Batmobile’. It won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1973 and went on to dominate European racing until 1979, four years after it went out of production. It won five European Touring Car championships and was highly successful in various U.S. events as well, seriously challenging Porsche’s dominance. The CSL’s greatest achievement was to help firmly establish the company as the maker of the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’. A few days back, BMW introduced the modern interpretation of the car, aptly named 3.0 CSL Hommage R, to pay tribute to its legendary race machine.

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