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Where were you in 1987? For me, I was busy being born. But if you were old enough to remember, you more than likely would’ve been sporting the coolest mullet in town or wearing brightly coloured leg warmers while dancing to Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth.

Yes, there were a lot of cringeworthy moments in the ’80s, but there was also some moments to be proud of.

If you turned the television on in 1987, and after adjusting the aerial, you would’ve been watching a new music program called Rage. An instant change of the channel and the Australian Touring Car Championship may have been on when 11 manufacturers were on the grid.

Step back to 1986 for a moment, and one of those cars was the JPS Team racing an E30 BMW 325i. This model was to be the platform for the first BMW M3, which we saw a year later with Jim Richards and Tony Longhurst behind the wheel. Richards went on to win the 1987 championship.

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Fast forward to now, and well, BMW is nowhere to be found in what is now the Supercars championship, but the Australian GT Championship features the BMW M6 GT3 raced by Steve Richards.

It has been 30 years since the BMW M3 launched, and the German brand has marked the occasion with the 2017 BMW M3 30 Jahre (German for ‘years’). And to add another factor of 30 into the mix, only 30 will make it to Australia, out of 500 worldwide. Lucky country, indeed.

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The 30 Jahre costs an additional $9715 over the standard M3, stretching the before-on-roads price to $154,615. For that money, you get leather Merino bi-colour cabin trim and ’30 Jahre M3’ embroidered in black/silverstone on the front headrests. The most significant addition is the stunning Macao Blue paint, which was the same that was available on the original E30 M3.

It’s a tad gruntier than the original too, producing 331kW of power from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six engine, a significant increase over the E30’s 143kW 2.3-litre inline four.

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So, what was life like back when the first M3 was seen in 1987?

Well, visiting your local BMW dealership would have been disappointing as the E30 M3 was never officially sold Australia. The most expensive 3 Series at the time was the $72,600 325i sedan.

For context, the average annual wage was $26,910, and with that money, a house could’ve been bought for $89,400. That’s pretty much today’s average annual wage!

Overseas though, the M3 was on sale for around $40,000. If you were lucky enough to get behind the wheel, the M3 could reach 100km/h in 6.7 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 235km/h. Way off the pace of the current car, which dispatches the 0-100km/h sprint in just four seconds.

To achieve that kind of acceleration back in the ’80s, you would need a Lamborghini Countach, yours for a lazy $375,000, with a 3.7-second race to 100km/h. The newly-introduced Ferrari F40 was 0.9-seconds slower with a higher price-tag of around USD $400,000.

Luckily, filling up the petrol tank was cheap, paying around 50-cents a litre.

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The first mobile phone call was made in Australia 30 years ago, and it was on a phone that weighed more than half-a-kilogram and didn’t even send text messages. Oh, the humanity.

Surprisingly, GPS did exist, only if you were willing to cart around a tripod mounted receiver with a ‘portable computer’, and fork out $40,000 for it.

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But what else has changed around our city since we first saw the M3?

After finding some Melbourne photos from 1987 on the interweb, we replicated the exact photos, but with the M3 30 Jahre in shot. And as you can see, a lot has changed since then, and in some surprising cases, it hasn’t.


100 Collins St, Melbourne 

Positioned between Russell and Exhibition Street facing North-West, this 30-year old photo looks like it was taken yesterday. Those green windows are still there, minus the air-conditioners, to the left, the ‘100’ street sign still exists, and it looks like the tree was recently chopped down in the present photo.

Frederic Muller hair salon still exists and has moved just down the road to 123 Collins St. Ronald Bernarde was a hat shop and was in Collins St for many years. Note the BMW E28 parked behind the Holden Kingswood.

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655 Bourke St, Melbourne

Taken between Spencer and King Street facing South-East, this building was erected in 1876 and housed Hudson’s Hardware Store for many years, until they moved to Highett St, Richmond in the ’80s. Apparently, a cafe called The Bourke Armoury is there, but it looks pretty shut to us. This building is a Heritage Inventory Site.

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Dover St, Cremorne

Snapped facing north down Dover Street towards the Swan Street Bridge, this was taken from the Australian mini-series, The Great Bookie Robbery. Thankfully, the trains have changed since then (just), but it’s the mural that has stood the test of time. It was painted in 1984 and was sponsored by the Cremorne Gardens Residents Action Group.

The house on the right has now been replaced by a business, and it’s cool to see the two power poles still stand. Further down the road, you’ll find the CarAdvice office. Oh, and we’re pretty sure that red Ford Laser is still there!

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Luna Park, St Kilda

The only noticeable difference here is the typical grey Melbourne sky. Looking South-West on Carlisle Street, you can see the median strip has been removed and the palm trees have grown very slowly.

Still standing is the building to the right, which is the Palais Theatre, and the wooden power pole next to it. The entrance to Luna Park has been added on too.

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The Shrine of Remembrance, Kings Domain

Looking straight down Swanston Street, it’s like playing Where’s Wally looking for the M3. The vegetation has remained and grown quite a bit, but the sky has almost disappeared. Skyscrapers tower over St Paul’s Cathedral and they have swallowed the Arts Centre.

The city of 2017 looks much prettier too. Namely, the image of indigenous leader William Barak on a 32-storey apartment block, and the rectangular gas and fuel buildings have gone, opening the city up.

The cigarette sign in the centre of the photo, Benson and Hedges, has been replaced by a beer sign, and the Prince Henry hospital in front of the Arts Centre was knocked down and replaced by the Melburnian Apartments in 1994.

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Clarendon St, South Melbourne

What a difference 30-years makes. Taken south-west just down from Crown Casino, you’ll see the overpass is long gone and in its place is the number 96 and 109 light-rail tram.

The Tea House brick building to the right was built in 1887 as a warehouse for Fergus and Mitchell, a manufacturing stationer, and was for many years, the tallest building outside of the CBD. As you can see, it still stands, and now is the home of a massage and beauty business.

In both photos, it’s still easy to tell Australians can’t get enough of their Holdens! One thing for sure is, we are glad colour co-ordinated rear window sun-visors are out of fashion now. I’m looking at you, Holden Torana.

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River Quay, Southbank

A Holden Camira. When was the last time you saw one of those?

This photo was taken easterly from Southbank Boulevard, down the road from Eureka Tower. It seems Budget’s premises was around here judging by the two trucks, and note the parking meters to the right.

Allen’s Lollies is no more, and more trees have covered up the new buildings. The facade of the brick building to the right remains, with a modern apartment now above it.

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It’s been a momentous 30-years for BMW, which has seen the German brand go from strength to strength, with not only design, but technology – just like the city has. It will be exciting to see what the next 30 years will bring.

Please note, the original images used in this story remain the copyright of the photographers.
100 Collins St: Butler, Graeme. First Glass Box. 1985 – 655 Bourke St: Butler Graeme. When we had a Hudsons Store in the city. 1985 – Dover St: Nine Network. The Great Bookie Robbery. 1986 – Luna Park. St Kilda Historical Society. SKHS Buildings. 1981 – Shrine of Remembrance. Klakegg, Oystein. Shrine of Remembrance. 1984 – Clarendon St. Langford, Weston. Port Melbourne Line. 1987 – Southbank. Username, Deebs. Skyscraper City. 1986.

Click the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.






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