Art of the BMW M3

Photos From the First 25 Years of the Quintessential Sport Sedan

Do you know the only reason people have for not liking the BMW M3? That everyone else loves it and they're sick of hearing about it.

Well, prepare, our friends, to hear more about it. You know why? We, too, love it. And we would even if the bylaws of auto writing didn't require it.

How much do we love it? So much so that when BMW says it's celebrating the 25th anniversary of this automotive icon, we create this lovely photo gallery of the history of the model, now four generations old. This despite the fact that the North American market didn't get an M3 until the 1988 model year, making the 2011 model year its 23rd anniversary (an anniversary that even our wife couldn't convince us is a significant one). Also, there's the little matter of the U.S. not having a BMW M3 on offer between the model years 1992 and 1994. We will forgive this, as (most) owners have forgiven BMW for turning its raw-boned homologation special into a model line within a model line, one that contains something as antithetical to the original car's spirit as a — gasp! — retractable-hardtop convertible.

So now we chart in pictures both the evolution of the BMW M3 and the love affair its devotees have with it. Each generation of this car has inspired positively evangelical zeal. And each new generation of this car is assumed to be heretical by true believers. (You know, it's too big, too many cylinders, et cetera.) For they so loved it that they could conceive of loving no other. That is, until they really drove the newest one. Then they invariably fall in love all over again.