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How the most-desired V-8-powered 3-Series came to be.

BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition

The cards were always stacked against the E92-generation BMW M3. Introduced in 2007 on the eve of a worldwide economic recession, the iconic performance sedan didn’t receive the first-year sales bump usually awarded to desirable new performance cars. That lack of initial sales would lead BMW to create one of the coolest, most America-coded M3s of all time: The Lime Rock Park Edition

Tom Plucinsky, head of communications for BMW North America, recounts how the Lime Rock Park Edition was born.

“In the later part of the [car’s] lifecycle, [BMW] was trying to boost sales, and special editions really worked for that,” he told Motor1. “Lime Rock Park was a track we sponsored at the time; We were good friends with Skip Barber. We got into a discussion with him, and [Skip] was like ‘let’s make a Lime Rock Park Edition.'”

And so they did.

It’s well known the Lime Rock Edition’s now-legendary Fire Orange paint was borrowed from the M3 GTS, a track-focused variant of the E92 with a bigger engine only sold in Europe. But that wasn’t always the plan. “The original color was supposed to be Valencia Orange,” says Plucinsky. 

If you’re familiar with BMW color codes, you’ll know Valencia Orange was also used for the 1 Series M coupe, introduced just a few years earlier. According to Plucinsky, BMW’s legal team weren’t fans of the two cars sharing the color, as the company had marketed Valencia Orange as a color exclusive to the 1 Series M. 

The North American product team got as far as building a proof-of-concept vehicle painted in Valencia Orange. When the legal implications came to light, the team pivoted. 

“They flex-painted it with Fire Orange and showed it to the product strategy committee,” says Plucinsky. “The execs signed off on it and that’s how we ended up with Fire Orange for the Lime Rock Park Edition.”

It’s not just the color that makes the Lime Rock Park Edition special. You can’t put the name of a storied race track on a car without a few performance upgrades. The $10,000 premium got you carbon fiber fangs in front to spice up the splitter area, as well as a carbon lip spoiler for the trunk. Tucked below the rear bumper is an Inconel-titanium exhaust. 

The fancy exhaust might not sound like much of an upgrade on paper, but it makes the car special. That 414-horsepower V-8 sounds good with any piping, but it’s especially good with M’s own upgraded trumpets. The way this exhaust highlights the E92’s 8,500-rpm engine, with a ferocious note at every single rpm, is proof the Lime Rock Park Edition’s value doesn’t come solely from some paint and a plaque.

Inside the M3 LRP, you’ll find a flat-bottom Alcantara steering wheel and a numbered plaque. The Competition package, usually a $2,500 option, came standard. That means every Lime Rock Park M3 got the bigger 19-inch wheels and the three-level adjustable damping system.

All of this stuff, optioned out on a normal M3, would’ve cost you far more than the Lime Rock Park’s $10,000 upcharge. Think of it sort of like Porsche’s GTS trims, which bundle the best high-performance goodies into a single trim, but with a bit more flare.

Like a lot of fast-appreciating naturally aspirated performance cars, the Lime Rock Park Edition wasn’t very popular when it launched, despite its flashy color and low production numbers. 

The way this exhaust highlights the E92’s 8,500-rpm engine… is proof the Lime Rock Park Edition’s value doesn’t come solely from some paint and a plaque.

“It was pretty universally panned by the media,” says Plucinsky. 

The Lime Rock Park’s $70,995 MSRP was, at the time, considered steep for a car that had already been on sale for six years and was about to be replaced by an all-new, more powerful model. But all 200 examples sold, and now, they’re some of the most desirable M3s ever. 

“It really resonated with the market, and now they’re worth much more than a regular, similarly equipped M3.”

With so few Lime Rock Park Editions in existence, they rarely come up for sale. At the time of writing, I could only find four active listings, three of which reside at Enthusiast Auto Group, a dealer that specializes in desirable M cars. All three cars have an asking price north of six figures. Back in 2022, a six-speed Lime Rock Park M3 (one of just 55) with just 229 miles on the odometer sold at auction during Car Week at Pebble Beach for an astronomical $263,200, more than $100,000 north of estimates. Further proof these are the most-sought V-8-powered M3s in America.

There’s an obvious reason why the Lime Rock Park Edition is now so universally loved, and it’s not just because of the color. It’s because the M3 Lime Rock Park Edition is America’s M3. It was created by BMW’s American arm, named after an American racing mecca, and sold only to American customers. It also came during the time when the M3 had a fire-breathing naturally aspirated V-8 engine—a nice coincidence that also happens to be a cornerstone of any truly patriotic performance car. If America can take ownership of any German-built car, it’s this one.

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