BMW 2002 Turbo

13 Awesome BMWs We’d Love To Drive

BMW is regarded as one of the leading manufacturers in the world of high-performance luxury cars. Even the brand’s entry-level models are often very driver-focused.

Picking just 13 models from a company that’s been making cars for over 70 years is no easy task, especially when they’ve produced so many excellent driver’s cars.

Still, we’ve given it a shot, and included a mix of super-rare classics, limited edition homologation specials, and grand tourers. 

BMW 507

BMW 507 1958
Image Credit: Lothar Spurzem/WikiCommons.

Let’s start with one of the most beautiful BMWs ever made, the 507 Roadster. BMW introduced the 507 in 1956, and production only lasted four years. During those four years, some of the world’s richest and most famous people, including Elvis Presley and Fred Astaire, ordered one.

While it sounds like it was hugely successful, the 507 nearly bankrupted the Bavarian carmaker. Built to compete against the Mercedes 300SL on the American market, the handbuilt, aluminum-bodied 507 was far too expensive, and only 252 were made, making it a very rare sports car. Still, we’d love to take one of these beauties for a spin, just to hear that 150-horsepower 3.2-liter V8 engine roar.

BMW 2002 Turbo

BMW 2002 Turbo
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

While it’s fair to say the regular BMW 2002 was a bit underpowered, the 2002 Turbo was a very different beast. One of the cars I learned to drive in was a BMW 2002 Turbo, so I may be biased, but I think it’s one of the coolest-looking German cars from the 1970s.

With 170 Bavarian ponies and 181 lb-ft of torque, it was a proper BMW performance car before the M division even existed. It also received a more aggressive body kit, including wider arches, and featured the classic BMW tricolor shade of dark blue, light blue, and red to show it meant business.


Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

As impressive as the 2002 Turbo was, it still lives in the shadow of the awesome BMW 3.0 CSL “Batmobile.” It got its nickname from the massive rear spoiler, which wasn’t legal for use on German roads, so BMW just put it in the trunk for owners to install themselves.

Early cars had a 3,003cc engine, but in 1973, it was increased to 3,153cc, or 3.2 liters. With 203 horsepower in a lightweight body, the 3.0 CSL was a proper high-performance car.


Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The BMW M1 could’ve been one of the greatest cars to ever emerge from Germany, but due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, it never achieved the fame it deserved.

Designed by Giugiaro, the mid-engined BMW M1 was supposed to be built by Lamborghini. The Italian supercar manufacturer faced financial difficulties, so a group of former Lamborghini employees founded Italengineering and finished the M1. However, due to the delays, it was no longer eligible to race under the rules it had been developed for. In the end, 453 BMW M1s were built, 399 were road-legal, and 53 were made for racing.

BMW M3 Sport Evolution (E30)

1990 BMW M3 Sport Evolution III
Image Credit: axisboldaslove1/Flickr.

Many BMW enthusiasts will tell you that the e30 M3 is still the best. Developed as a homologation special, it became one of the most successful touring cars ever. 

The “regular” e30 M3, with its 192-horsepower 2.3-liter 16-valve engine, is no slouch, but the Sport Evolution turns everything up to 11. It was a special edition, lightweight model with a larger 2.5-liter engine that churned out 235 horsepower. It also had adjustable front and rear spoilers, upgraded suspension, and other goodies. Only 600 were made.

BMW M3 Lightweight (E36)

E36 BMW M3 Lightweight
Image Credit: Mr.choppers/WikiCommons.

As good as the e36 BMW M3 was, it doesn’t get the same praise as the e30 and the e46. Our guess is that it’s down to looks, as there wasn’t much that separated it from the regular 3 Series models. 

If you want something a bit more special, there’s the US-only M3 Lightweight. BMW made sure it lived up to its name and took the weight-saving measures to the extreme, losing 200 lbs of unnecessary flab. It still has the same six-cylinder engine as the regular M3 but without the top-speed limiter. Strangely, BMW struggled to sell the Lightweight models. These days, however, they fetch a premium.

BMW M3 CSL (E46)

e46 BMW M3 CSL
Image Credit: Jake Thomas / Wiki Commons.

In 2003, BMW released another lightweight M3, this time in the form of the e46 M3 CSL. The “Coupe Sport Lightweight” name was borrowed from the aforementioned 3.0 CSL, and like the e36 M3 Lightweight, the focus was on removing anything deemed unnecessary.

The e46 BMW M3 CSL used carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic for the roof, bumpers, door panels, and center console. Along with other weight-saving measures, BMW stripped off 243 lbs. This time, they also added more power, and the 3.2-liter inline-six pumped out 360 horses, 17 more than the standard model. 

BMW M5 (E39)

BMW E39 M5
Image Credit: donincognito/Flickr.

Thanks to the e28 and e34, the BMW M5 was already known for its speed, power, and comfort by the time the now-iconic e39 rolled off the assembly line. However, dyed-in-the-wool BMW fanatics will tell you the e39 was on another level, and many believe it’s the best M5 ever made.

Thanks to a 5.0-liter V8 that produced 394 horsepower (and a glorious soundtrack), it destroyed the competition, leaving both the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG and Jaguar XJR in its dust.

BMW 1M Coupe

BMW 1M Coupe
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Enthusiasts fell in love instantly when the BMW 1M Coupe arrived in 2011. It was almost like a modern-day version of the legendary e30 M3. This compact coupe offered rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission. Once upon a time, that was the standard, but nowadays, cars like that are as rare as unicorns.

BMW only planned to make 2,700 1Ms, but during its single production year, it ended up selling 6,331 cars instead. 

BMW 850 CSi

BMW 850 CSi
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

BMW introduced the 8-series in the early 1990s, and this flagship model was one of the best-looking cars on the market at the time, complete with pop-up headlights.

At the bottom of the totem pole was the 282-horsepower 840Ci with a 4.0-liter V8 engine. Then there was the 850i, which had a 296-horsepower 5.0-liter V12, the 850Ci, with a 322-horsepower 5.4-liter V12, and finally, the 850CSi. They were all good, but the 850CSi was the most desirable, with its 5.6-liter V12 pumping out 376 wild horses.

BMW M Coupe

BMW M Coupe
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

We’re the first to admit that the BMW M Coupe isn’t the best-looking Bimmer. In fact, it’s commonly referred to as the Clown Shoe. Looks aside, it’s actually an absolute gem of a sports car.

It’s a better driver’s car than its soft-top sibling, the Z3, and it also looks more aggressive. Under the hood, early cars had the 240-horsepower 3.2-liter from the e36 M3, while later models received the e46 M3’s 315-horsepower lump.

BMW M635CSi / M6

BMW M6 / M635
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

In 1984, BMW decided to drop the M1’s six-cylinder engine into a grand tourer and created the Euro-spec M635CSi. The North American market had to wait until 1987 to enjoy it, and there it wore an M6 badge and had to make do with a less powerful engine than the European model.

It was nicknamed the Shark thanks to its styling. With 286 horsepower, it would reach 62 mph in just over 6 seconds and went on to a top speed of 158 mph.


BMW Z8 Alpina
Image Credit: Thesupermat/WikiCommons.

The BMW Z8 was built to celebrate the BMW 507 and even appeared in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough. Its 400-horsepower V8 engine allowed it to reach 60 mph in less than five seconds, and it managed a top speed of 180 mph, except that BMW limited it to 155 mph. 

It was a solid German sports car that consistently outperformed many of its competitors, but some journalists and owners complained that it was too track-focused. When Alpina took over production in 2003, it became a more relaxed grand touring car, and some say that version is much better for daily use.

Andre Nalin

Author: Andre Nalin

Title: Writer


Andre has worked as a writer and editor for multiple car and motorcycle publications over the last decade, but he has reverted to freelancing these days. He has accumulated a ton of seat time during his ridiculous road trips in highly unsuitable vehicles, and he’s built magazine-featured cars. He prefers it when his bikes and cars are fast and loud, but if he had to pick one, he’d go with loud.

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