In an age of honest sports cars, the late 1980s provided some of the most iconic cars that have ever been built. If you think back to that era and you’re asked to name a German sports car, chances are pretty great you’ll come up with one of these two. The fact is, despite being built in the same country at the same time, these two cars could not be more different. Porsche had already been building the 911 for a quarter century at the point they introduced the G50 gearbox, but BMW’s homologation special touring car racer for the street M3 was their first proper effort at this formula. Both are filled with character, but the Porsche provides more engagement and needs deliberate communication. This is a battle of wildly different ideologies; aircooled vs. watercooled, front engine vs. rear engine, sports car racer vs. DTM.
In this comparison, we might see the 911 as being the clear victor here, because it has more power, a more nimble chassis, and driving dynamics that we all adore. The BMW, however, is a lightweight rev-machine that has gone on to produce several generations of fanatics as well. On the other side of our coin, the BMW guys are looking at their much-vaunted E30 M3 as the clear winner in this battle. A 911 is a car you have to come to an agreement with before you get in and drive away. It’s a car that you need to know intimately before you hustle it down a mountain road. The BMW, on the other hand, is a nimble and lithe sedan with a well-balanced chassis that feels instantly familiar as soon as you shake hands with the gear lever.
In this video by Everyday Driver, the pair try to determine which driving experience is worth the cost of entry. Being that both of these cars have ballooned in value across recent years, the comparison is an apt one. One of the hosts, Todd, has a sentiment that we’re completely on board with when he says “[The 911] is a driving experience I think every enthusiast should have.” But we’re not sure we agree when he follows that up with “I don’t know that it’s an ownership experience everyone should have, though.”
So which would you rather have, the 911 or the M3? It’s a question that provokes a different feeling in everyone you ask.