Respect Your Elders, An E30 BMW Love Story

Write-up by Rick Jensen. Video by Owen Craft.

For the enthusiasts in Owen Craft’s "Respect Your Elders," trailer, the answer always starts with an M—but it sure as hell ain’t a Miata. This documentary gives a unique look into the fascinating love-fest with the BMW E30, the run of 1982-1991 3 Series and M3 cars that one owner explains as, "Literally as pure as you can get.”
Like the ubiquitous Japanese sports car, the E30 was purpose-built to convey a pure and balanced driving experience. Curb weights were around 2,500-2,900 pounds, with smooth, balanced handling and great road feel. And as the 1980s weren't exactly a pinnacle of power potential, the E30’s sub-100 to near-200 hp ratings only added to the car’s overall balance. "You're not going to beat anyone in a straight line, but it always keeps you happy," one non-M3 driver quips.

BMW’s simplistic approach to these cars resulted in what one owner says is "the best car that BMW ever built.” There are platitudes. The word legendary is bandied about. And some old dude’s dry joke about using the street drug "E30 M3” is so, so lame.
But they make a point: It takes a damn good car to create devotion like this, and by building the minimalist E30 3 Series, BMW turned an entire generation on to sporty cars. And while many of today’s performers may be equal parts numb and capable, there’s no question that these razor-sharp pioneers paved the way for today’s bursting sports sedan market.

No, BMW didn’t invent the everyman’s performance car—pure sports cars were delighting their drivers decades before the E30 danced around corners. And yes, mainstream BMW drivers still absolutely deserve their reps as snooty, clueless motorists.
However, Craft’s trailer is a beautifully shot tribute to the early 3s, and the purists who love them.

In just over two minutes, Craft manages to mix in spirited street driving, some cool GoPro action, on-track racing shots and interesting interviews with gushing fans. It’s an entertaining preview of the full film, which will go live on September 21. If you’re a fan of pure, unadulterated motoring, you’ll want to check it out.


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Rick Jensen (Turboguy)

Rick's a Turbo Buick and EFI GM nut who was born in Nebraska, then reborn on the mean streets of Queens, NYC. Spent high school and college wrenching and racing before moving to NYC and spending 13 years as the editor-in-chief, editor, and writer for some of America's best automotive magazines, websites, and ad agencies. Favorite moments include running low 10s in my Turbo Buick, Exposing GM's weak-assed early CTS-V drivetrains, road racing Corvettes and Camaros, and doing high-boost launches to make my kid laugh.
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