Feature Flick: BMW Presents History of the 3 Series in New Video

The BMW 3 Series is the one to beat in its class, and it’s enjoyed that distinction for some time. BMW shows you just how far back the model’s history stretches in this video, which covers all six generations of the 3 Series.

Beginning production almost 40 years ago, the E21-generation 3 Series arrived in Europe by 1975 as a replacement for BMW’s venerable 2002. The first 3 Series shared a few design cues with its predecessor, including the single round headlights and slender two-piece grille. Later in the E21’s production run, the model would adopt the familiar dual-round headlight look, which remains one of BMW’s trademarks today. Six years after the E21’s introduction, BMW produced its 1 millionth 3 Series. By 1982, the E30-generation model arrived. Though this generation is now famous for serving as the basis for the first high-performance M3 model, BMW also notes the E30 evolved the 3 Series’ styling with rounder (though still boxy) lines, and marks the introduction of the wider, flatter dual-kidney grille. The E30 was also the first 3 Series to be offered with a diesel in Europe.

With the E36 generation in 1990, the 3 Series received a more streamlined profile, and enclosed its dual-round headlights in a glass (or plastic on U.S. models) housing. The E36 M3got a high-revving inline-six engine, while non-M models grew the 3 Series’ body style range to include sedan, coupe, convertible, wagon, and hatchback versions. The E46 evolved the model’s styling, as well as its performance and tech features when it was introduced in Europe in 1998. That generation is also notable for producing the first all-wheel-drive 3 Series.

Things begin to look more modern with the arrival of the fifth-generation 3 Series, the E90, in 2005. With a rounder design, and more powerful engine options across the range, the E90 brought the 3 Series up to date for the mid-2000s. That brings us to the present day, and the 2012 BMW 3 Series. Though the new model has just arrived, it already appears it may become another benchmark. Check out the video below to learn about the full history of the 3 Series.

Source: BMW via YouTube

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2012 BMW 3-Series

2012 BMW 3-Series

MSRP $47,600 328 i Convertible

0-60 MPH:

5.5 SECS


23 City / 34 Hwy

Horse Power:

240 @ 5000