25.BMW E36 M3 LIGHTWEIGHT
BMW introduced the E36 generation M3 in 1992, as the second iteration of the wildly successful and popular M3 model line. Besides the styling changes, the E36 added two cylinders, VANOS valve timing, and even a four-door variant. For American market E36 M3s, power was up to 240 horses and either 225 or 240 lb-ft of torque depending on model year. But the most important aspect of the car was its incredible handling and balance.
Today, slicktop E36 M3 examples are highly sought after, but probably the most desirable edition is the M3 Lightweight. Quickly identifiable thanks to distinctive BMW racing decals on the front and a large rear wing at the rear, the E36 M3 Lightweight reduced the cars heft by around 200 pounds thanks to the use of aluminum in the doors, less sound deadening and insulation, radio, and sunroof deletes, as well as forged alloy wheels, a special 3.23 limited slip differential, and carbon fiber trim pieces. Only around 125 Lightweights were ever produced, and amazingly, Paul Walker owned seven, allowing him to enjoy one while keeping the rest in close to showroom condition. One even had less than 100 total miles on it, making it possibly the best example known.
24.BMW E30 M3
BMW’s E30 M3 is the first in a long line of upgraded 3 Series cars that have become some of the best loved and most sought after sports cars in the history of the world. Today, BMW churns out an M variant of most of its cars, but when the E30 M3 debuted in 1986, it was only the third M car at the time after the inaugural M1 and the M5 sports sedan.
The E30 M3 proved a capable competition racer and a highly desirable road car for the lucky few able to daily drive them.
Upgrades over the standard E30 cars included easily identifiable and dramatic box flares, an S14 engine that upped displacement to 2.3-liters and cranked out up to 197 horsepower out of only four cylinders, limited slip differentials, and an optional dogleg transmission. Bigger wheels featured a five lug setup, while suspension geometry was revised with increased caster, sway bars, and aluminum control arms. Only just over 16,000 examples were ever produced – less than any other M3 model since then, and it should come as no surprise that Paul Walker, who loved his lightweight sports cars in real life as well as on the screen, owned an E30 M3.
The M1 is the aptly named first M car that BMW ever produced, and today is one of the most collectible cars on the planet. Originally built to satisfy homologation requirements, the M1 is truly a race car built for the road, and was originally proposed as a joint project to be developed by BMW and Lamborghini. The final outcome was entirely BMW, however, and set the stage for the German manufacturer’s future automotive products.
The M1 is the first of only two BMW models to feature a mid-engine layout (the other being the i8) and was powered by an inline six engine which cranked 273 horses to the rear wheels. While those figures may not sound impressive today, during the M1’s 1978 to 1981 production run, pairing that kind of power with the handling that a mid-engined BMW could offer proved to be a successful combination – especially in competition tune when the engine could crank out up to 470 horsepower way up at 9,000 RPM. Only 453 M1 cars ever came out of the factory, and a fair amount were used in competition, and many M1 examples now sit in premier collections around the world. Paul Walker’s M1 featured a classic BMW paint scheme – white with BMW’s iconic M car racing colors.
Paul Walker clearly loved his BMWs, and seems to have preferred them exclusively in white. For any fan of the German manufacturer, Walker’s collection includes some of the greatest highlights the brand has ever produced. Included in the wide range of his BMWs is Walker’s 850CSi, the top of the line when it comes to BMW’s touring coupe. Rather than create a production vehicle based around an M8 concept car, BMW decided – likely because of a high curb weight over 4,000 pounds – that the car couldn’t quite live up to the M badge’s high performance standards, and instead produced the 850CSi.
With a version of the other 8 Series cars’ V12 under the hood that was refined so extensively that BMW even changed its designation code, the 850CSi offered 375 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque, while suspension revisions firmed up the ride, lowered the center of gravity, and greatly improved upon the otherwise disappointing handling of the rest of the 8 Series lineup. A six speed manual transmission was offered, and its probably safe to assume that Paul Walker chose to find an 850CSi with the stick shift given the rest of his incredible collection, as well as the focus that clutch pedals and shifters received throughout the Fast and Furious franchise.
The Saleen S7 is widely considered America’s first true supercar. Though Saleen is most commonly known as a tuner – mostly of Ford Mustangs – the brand also manufactured their own purpose-built race car from 2000 to 2007, with a variety of versions also available as road-going production vehicles. The S7’s dramatic styling may seem excessive, but every fascia and vent on the car has a distinct purpose, and at the time of its introduction the S7 represented the pinnacle of automotive technology. That long and low body is built mainly from carbon fiber, while the chassis is a honeycomb construction space frame design. The mid-mounted engine is an aluminum version of Ford’s 7.0-liter overhead valve V8 that produced 550 horsepower initially.
Eventually, Saleen released a twin turbocharged S7 that upped output to 750 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque, dropping a 0-60 run down to only 2.8 seconds. Further improvements to aerodynamics allowed the S7 to produce is own weight in downforce at high speeds, and the S7 was estimated to reach 248 miles per hour. The final iteration of the S7 was a competition package on the twin turbo variant that further bumped power up to 1,000 horses, an insane stat considering the car’s sub-3,000 pound weight.