1995: BMW M3
“The decision to import the M3 didn’t come as easily as you might expect. In fact, in January of 1993, BMW of North America was ready to trash the entire project. Price was the problem. In Europe, the M3 was nudging up against the $50,000 barrier, and, as one BMW official said: ‘At that price, we didn’t see the point. The volume would be so small.’
“BMW AG is smarter than that, though, for when it realized BMW of North America wasn’t interested in a $50,000 M3, the sleeves were rolled up and a mutually agreeable alternative was found. Money was sucked from the Euro M3 in any way possible. Expensive and over-engineered pieces were scrapped – most notably the costly cylinder head and the fancy injection system that features an individual throttle for each cylinder. When the engineers finished, what they had was an M3 right for the US market, a well-planned balance of performance and price, and a true value.
“We spoke to our local BMW dealer not long ago, and he told us he currently receives one M3 a month. He sells it the very day it arrives. Equal parts marketing masterpiece and banzai automobile, the BMW M3. Is it the one car we most want in our driveway. Damn right. Is it good enough to be the 1995 Automobile Magazine Automobile of the Year? Without a doubt.”
-Mark H. Schirmer