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Clash of the Titans

Project M3 vs. Ducati 748

Feb 25, 2003
0304_10zoom+1995_bmw_m3_coupe+top_front_right Photo 1/1   |   Clash of the Titans

"Power is nothing without control."

No single quote ever described a project car so accurately. And while there are worse things than too much torque, the fact remains Project M3 is having serious issues off the starting line.

2016 BMW M3
$63,500 Base Model (MSRP) 17/26 MPG Fuel Economy

Through basic mathematics, our BMW should be capable of eclipsing the quarter mile in 11.7 sec. with a trap speed of some 121 mph. Unfortunately math pays little attention to real-world situations, especially when it comes to street tires--despite the stellar performance of the Pirelli rubber underneath, we are literally vaporizing the tires through the first three gears.

Our "problem" came to light on a deserted airstrip where Project M3 faced off against the European-bred bad boy, the 750cc Ducati 748. Sporting some 98 hp at 11000 rpm, the Ducati will rocket to 60 mph in about 3 sec. and cover 1,320 ft in 11.5 sec. at 119 mph. Pretty good numbers, indeed. Why test a motorcycle against a car? Why not? It's a classic showdown where the power of lightness can tip the scales against sheer tire-smoking horsepower.

Well, the Ducati kicked the M3's ass, off the line and across the finish--11.5 sec. at 119 mph versus 12.8 sec. at 118 mph. But look at those trap speeds! It was obvious once the M3 hooked, all its 400+ hp was being put to good use. We tried it again, this time a roll-on start at 25 mph, the M3 in high-boost mode (15 psi) in second gear. The Ducati and BMW were dead even until 100 mph when the M3 began to nose ahead. At the top of fourth gear (about 120 mph) the Ducati was left sucking M3 exhaust.

In a way, it's a shame to reduce cars like Project M3 to mere numbers. Sure, we could make it a dedicated drag racer with a tubbed rear end and gigantic Mickey Thompson slicks (that sounds pretty cool actually), but the M3 is so much more.

Stay tuned.

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