There are rare BMWs, and then there are rare BMWs. The E31 M8 prototype from the BMW Classic video a few weeks ago qualifies as one of these exceptionally rare BMWs, and so does the E46 M3 GTR. Built as a homologation special so its race car stablemate could compete, the M3 GTR made it beyond the prototype stage (unlike the original M8), but not much further. BMW promised to build ten road-going (strassenversion) units, but it’s believed that only six were actually made, half of which were development testbeds. Manufactured alongside the race car in Plant Regensburg, none have come up for sale or auction in recent memory, and its specialized status make the M3 GTR one of those fantasy cars that more often exists in the dreams of enthusiasts than in tangible form.
The racing version of the E46 M3 GTR proved a force to be reckoned with on the circuit, winning the 2001 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT category at the hands of Jörg Müller, but the success was short-lived. For 2002, ALMS regulations were updated to require 100 homologation units be produced, and the M3 GTR, with an MSRP around 250,000 euros, faded into obscurity. The racing version would see action again from 2003 to 2005 at the Nurburgring and other circuits, where it was driven to victory in 2004 and 2005 in the 24-hour race by Schnitzer Motorsport, but by the then, the next best thing was already on the way.
Instead of the high-revving S54 inline-six of the conventional E46 M3, the GTR is motivated by the BMW P60B40, which is a 4.0-liter flat-plane crank V8 that revs beyond 7,500 with 444 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque in the race car, and a conservative rating of 350 horsepower in the road car. Other unique qualities of the GTR include a lightweight treatment with carbon-fiber used for things such as the hood, bumpers, roof panel, and more. There’s no radio or A/C, which further set the GTR apart from the CSL, which could be ordered with such options.
In a recent YouTube video, BMW Classic offers a rare look at a road-going M3 GTR. The video is just a few minutes in length, but you’ll want to watch it at least a few times, not only to catch every detail about the M3 GTR, but also to catch a glimpse of some of the exceptional vehicles lurking in the background. We spotted a McLaren F1 GTR and the one-off X5 LM which shares its V12 engine.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]