The rivalry between the E30 M3 Sport Evolution and the Mercedes-Benz 190 Evolution II during the Eighties and Nineties was huge. Everyone has their favourite — I was on the blue and white roundel’s corner. BMW Motorsport had built only four road-legal models in the mid-Eighties (the M1, E9 CSL, E12 M535i saloon and the M635 CSi) before the E30 M3, basically a racecar for the streets, came along.
In the historic DTM, it didn’t just give Merc a torrid time but Ford too; the Sierra Cosworth couldn’t keep up with the 380bhp M3, in fact none of the field could as it won countless races and spread the BMW Motorsports Division name all over the world in the process. It didn’t just dominate DTM, it stole the show at the World, British, French, Italian, and Australian Touring Car championships, becoming the most successful Touring car of all. The Sport Evolution, designed as a homologation special for the 1990 DTM car (just 600 units were made — the red bumper stripes make them easy to distinguish) had a 2.5-litre 16 valve DOHC inline four (it used sodium-cooled exhaust valves, a larger intake tract and signature red spark plug wires) mated to a quick but notchy five-speed manual. It had a screaming 7,300rpm redline, produced 238bhp and could hit 100kph from rest in around six seconds. It was as close as you could get to the actual competition car; it’d tear up a twisty road thanks to a kerb weight of just 1,200kg and a firm chassis (it featured uprated springs, gas-pressurised dual Boge dampers with Sport, Normal and Comfort settings and thicker anti-roll bars front and rear) and with a near 50:50 weight distribution it was ever so agile. It also came with an adjustable front apron and rear wing while the cabin got suede controls and Recaro seats.
It might not have had AC or electric windows but that mattered little to enthusiasts who snapped up the Sport Evo.
If you want one today, you need two things; lots of luck in finding one and lots of money as they can sometimes fetch close to the Dh500,000 mark.