The M3 GTR Might Be the Best-Sounding BMW on the Planet


BMW has built some phenomenal-sounding vehicles. But we think the M3 GTR race car of the mid-2000s might take the cake for best-sounding BMW on the planet.

Unlike the E46-generation M3 street car, which used a straight-six engine, the GTR was given a race-ready version of the naturally aspirated 4.9-liter V-8 found in the then-new E39-generation M5. Not only did this give the car more power, but it made it sound a whole lot better (and considering the original straight-six sounded so good, that’s saying something).

In addition to creating a great noise, the M3 GTR was pretty successful, too. BMW won its class in the 2001 American Le Mans Series championship before they were eventually forced to take out the V-8 for homologation reasons. 

The M3 GTR in this video, shot by the NM2255 YouTube channel during a historics event at the Mugello circuit in Italy, was originally fielded in the 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series by Tom Milner’s Prototype Technology Group, where it won 10 of 12 races. It still has its original eight-cylinder engine and Hewland six-speed H-pattern gearbox.

From the onboard footage we can get a good sense of just how loud this M3 must’ve been for drivers during the Rolex 24 two decades ago. That Hewland transmission requires speed and accuracy to get right; if you’re slow and careful, you’ll upset the car. 

Of course, it’s the exterior shots you’re here for. From the outside this M3 sounds more like an old Can-Am car than a European exotic racer, with a deep, blaring roar coming from its quad side pipes. It’s safe to say this is the best-sounding BMW we’ve heard … ever.

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