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The BMW 3 Series is a compact executive car manufactured by the German automaker BMW since May 1975. Successor to the BMW New Class, it has been produced in six different generations and in five different body styles. It is BMW's best-selling model, accounting for around 30% of the BMW brand's annual total sales (excluding motorbikes). The BMW 3 Series has won numerous awards throughout its history.
BMW released its E21 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, nearly doubling BMW's worldwide auto sales figures in three years. The 3 series has also maintained BMW's racing heritage. The M version of the 3 series, M3, debuted in 1988.
There have been six generations; their respective chassis codes are:
BMW E21 – (1975–1983) 3 Series
BMW E30 – (1983–1991) 3 Series
BMW E36 – (1991–2000) 3 Series
BMW E46 – (1999–2006) 3 Series
BMW E90 – (2005–2011/EUR, 2006–2011/US) 3 Series saloon
BMW E91 – (2005–2011/EUR, 2006–2011/US) 3 Series Touring (Sports Wagon)
BMW E92 – (2007–2011) 3 Series Coupé
BMW E93 – (2007–2011) 3 Series Convertible
BMW F30 – (2012–) 3 Series saloon BMW F31 – (2012–) 3 Series Touring (Sports Wagon)
The first generation was a two-door saloon model only. A factory authorised cabrio version was also built by Baur.
The cockpit design of the E21 marked the introduction of a new design concept for BMW, with the center console angled towards the driver. This feature has become part of BMW’s interior design philosophy for many years. As a sign of passive safety, all edges and control elements within the interior were rounded off and padded.
Initially, all models used the BMW M10 four-cylinder engine. In 1977, the BMW M20 six-cylinder engine was added to the lineup.