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Last year BMW unleashed its coupe powerhouse, the limited-edition M2 CS. It boasted 444 horsepower from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six, lifted from the belly of the M4. It’s a track-focused M2, with performance brakes, a locking differential, and adaptive suspension. The CS can even come with a manual transmission. 

It’s a proper track car, with forged aluminum control arms and a carbon-fiber transmission tunnel. Of course, BMW is no stranger to building performance cars. Throughout the years it has produced intense and frightening machines. These are just a few that illustrate the brand’s rich history.

Classic track beast: 1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution

The E30 M3 rests as one of the most iconic sports cars ever made, and the Evolution took it one step further. BMW gave this boxy coupe a wide body with sway bars, stiffer springs, and uprated shocks. Beneath the hood bellowed the S14B25 inline-four, bred from a 2.3-liter, stroked to 2.5-liters and new internal parts. It made 238 horsepower at 7,000 RPM. Other characteristics included thinner glass and extra cooling ducts. The Evolution also got an adjustable rear wing with three settings. Its “Monza” setting leveled out the rear wing, while its “Normal” and “Nurburgring” settings bent the last inch or so in an incline. 

One of the fastest sedans in the world: Alpina B10 BiTurbo

Two years of R&D and $3.2 million dollars got Alpina one of the fastest sedans in the world as of 1989. It used a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six, sending 360 horsepower to a 25-percent limited-slip differential via a five-speed manual transmission. The turbochargers had water-cooling and used electronic wastegates. The car also got upgraded suspension, including springs and sway bars, and beefier brakes shrouded in 235mm tires at the front and 265mm in the rear. Inside the car was pure race-spec, with Recaro seats, a Momo steering wheel, and a gauge for everything, even the axle oil temperature. Alpina still makes impressive performance cars.

What may have been: the legendary M8 prototype

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments of the 1990s was BMW’s failure to bring the M8 to the assembly line. Denied for decades of its existence, the M8 was finally unveiled in a museum in 2010. It featured a naturally aspirated 6-liter V12 with an 11:1 compression ratio to make 640 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. 

This powerplant supposedly got the car to 198 mph. BMW made other changes to the exterior, including integrating the headlights into the bumper. BMW used glass-reinforced plastic for the body panels, which allowed the car to weigh less than 3,200 pounds. It wasn’t all for nothing, as the 850CSi was released to the public as a detuned M8. Luckily, BMW released the 2021 BMW M8 to the tune of $130,000.

More special editions to come

bmw m2 cs shown at automobility in LA
BMW M2 CS Coupe is shown at AutoMobility LA | David McNew/Getty Images

The Most Reliable BMWs

BMW has made outstanding performance cars for decades, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Its most recent special edition car, the M2 CS, is a proper addition to its lineup, and well on its way to becoming another legendary BMW performance car. It’s always a safe bet, to expect a perfect driving machine from BMW.