After the success of the E30 M3, BMW began developing an all new M3 based on the E36 platform. Unlike the E30 which was primarily designed for competition use, the E36 was designed from the outset as a GT road car. It was also one of the first cars BMW built primarily using computer software. In February of 1992 the E36 M3 made its debut at the Paris Motor Show and by November that year it was delivered to the dealers showrooms.
The E36 was the first M3 to utilize the S50 3 litre inline-6 engine, which produced 282 bhp. Although originally only available as a coupe, BMW went on to produce the M3 as convertible and a saloon as well as 6 further special edition models. In September and November 1995, the M3 coupe and saloon, respectively, were upgraded to 321hp with the 3.2 litre S50B32 engine. At the same time, the cars received clear indicator lenses, new wheels and a 6-speed gearbox. The convertible did not receive these changes until February 1996.
AC Schnitzer is a third party tuning company based in Aachen, Germany specializing in BMW and MINI cars. Founded in 1967, the company is an evolution of the Schnitzer Motorport team. Since the 1960s, the Schnitzer team has been mainly active with BMW and BMW M cars in Touring car racing like the European Touring Car Championship, the Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft, the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft and the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).
The AC Schnitzer CS (or ‘Coupé Silhouette’) objective has always been to reinterpret and enhance the shape of the BMW bodywork. To save weight standard panels came off with new wide-body carbon fibre front wings and rear quarter panels fitted, dramatically altering the appearance of the car and allowing wider 9 x 17 inch wheels to be fitted to the front and 10 x 17s at the back. Schnitzer’s adjustable suspension, in conjunction with Bilstein, offered a dynamic edge over the standard car. In the context of the period, these alterations alone were exotic enough to justify the increased price tag above the cost of a standard M3 cabriolet. More traditional materials went into the aerodynamic colour-coded, heated side mirrors and front and rear bumpers, which the brochure claimed improved downforce at both ends of the car while side skirts visually link the wider wings and give the car a more aggressive look.
AC Schnitzer Parts
Pedals and foot rest, Gear knob and linkage, Alcantara wheel, Production plaque, Handbrake in Billet Aluminium, Exhaust, Carbon Strut brace, 9 / 10 x 17 Type 1 Racing wheels, Adjustable suspension, Titanium filler cap, Carbon front and rear quarter panels, CS Fibreglass front and rear bumpers
BMW Standard fit / Options
Fully Automatic hood, BMW Business Loudspeaker system, Prep for Hardtop fitting, Automatic AC, Polished burr Walnut trim, Rear headrests, OBC, Roll over protection, First Aid kit & Triangle, Smokers package, Auto dimming rear view mirror, Electric windows, Heated windscreen washer nozzles, LSD, Steering column adjust
The standard E36 M3 was always revered as a technically accomplished car, although in some circles the only problem was the lack of a flagship equivalent of the previous generation car; enter the Schnitzer CS and CLS widebody variants. Built with either Kevlar composite or fibre glass quarter panels, these evolutionary models were built on the box arch concept and made available to the BMW main dealer network as Schnitzer production vehicles – this particular car being No 1. Finished in the stunning Dakargelb, this CS features complete carbon composite panels with blended rear quarters to showcase a sublime styling exercise.
AC Schnitzer – ”The launch of the current BMW 3 series – the E36 – introduced an equally technically perfect model to continue the national and international success of the first M3 without interruption. A genuinely fine series, but for most BMW enthusiasts lacking a model, which in its evolution and combination of race-proven technology and style, was as ground-breaking as the E30 M3. A real challenge to the AC Schnitzer development department”.
The interior specification features a smattering of Schintzer detail with a stunning Alcantara clad wheel the centre of attention. The short shift gearbox, complete with Schnitzer helmet design motif, sits proudly atop the gear lever whilst more standard fare – handrake handle and drilled pedals – divert attention from the predominately black leather cabin. The fully automatic roof, an expensive option from new, has been retained and replaced at great expense to ensure commitment to original specification. The smart sports seats present in excellent condition and maintain good colour and contour, whilst the rear bench looks factory fresh.
The interior plastics and surfaces still look and feel new, completely free from any fading or damage. All of the switch gear still feels solid to operate and the electrics are working exactly as they should.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
This M3 variant features the updated 3.2 S50B32 engine and at the first turn of the key the engine fires into life, idling correctly up to temperature with a meaningful engine note thanks to the period correct ‘swept’ Schnitzer exhaust. The rear silencer promotes the inline 6 on test beautifully – a sharp bark upon load without any unnecessary boom or drone entering the cabin.
The 6 speed ‘Short Shift’ manual gearbox feels tight and precise, providing smooth gear changes and commanding the engines 321hp perfectly.
WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES
The gorgeous signature Type 1 Schnitzer 3 piece rims are fitted in a staggered configuration with 9”x17″ wheels on the front and a mammoth 10”x17″ on the rear. They present in pristine condition having recently been refurbished with no kerb marks or lacquer peel to be found. Premium rubber all round shows plenty of tread depth.
With a a complete system overhaul with BMW Barons of Hindhead the ventilated disc brakes and pads feel strong, pulling the car to a stand still quickly and smoothly.
Ordered through Chandlers of Hailsham this was to be the first of two CS Cab’s that the then boss of Norwich Union specified with this Dakar example followed by an Estoril blue car in 1999. Photographs in the history file show the first owner collecting the car from the showroom in Germany after the car rolled off the BMW production line straight to AC Schnitzer, where Dirk Lohr and Frank Breuer (named on that same plaque beneath the handbrake) rebuilt the M3 into a CS. Just one car was completed prior to this, the black left-hand-drive prototype car used in Schnitzer’s brochure photography.
Having been stored since 2007, BMW Hindhead have painstakingly restored the car to it’s former glory with a raft of invoices supplementing work carried out.
The history file is choc full with every piece of original Schnitzer literature whilst spare keys, a full book pack and original Spec sheet complete the folder.
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