Last month, Toyota announced two limited-edition versions of its GR Yaris named after its recent WRC champions Sebastian Ogier and Kalle Rovanperä. It’s a lovely gesture on Toyota’s part, and one that few manufacturers take part in these days. Mercedes, for instance, has never named one of its models after Sir Lewis Hamilton, nor has Honda done anything with its new golden boy Max Verstappen.
When carmakers do choose to mark the achievements of their factory drivers with a limited-edition car, said models are typically rubbish. Remember the Sebastian Vettel Edition Infiniti FX? Or the Fiat Seicento Sporting Schumacher Edition? These are drivers with a combined tally of 11 F1 World Championships, which you’d think would warrant something a little snazzier than dolled-up superminis and SUVs. Unless you’re a rally driver (they always get the good stuff) there’s little chance your paymasters are going to name a car after you no matter how many championships you win.
Somehow though, back in the late 1980s, touring car ace and former F1 driver Johnny Cecotto managed to sidestep the dodgy special edition curse when BMW decided to tie his name to a new limited-run M3. Launched in early 1989 to honour the Venezuelan’s talents behind the wheel of M3s in touring cars, the Johnny Cecotto Edition was marked out by a host of visual changes and an uprated engine that would form the basis of the E30 M3 range from then on. At the heart of the Cecotto Edition is the same 2.3-litre inline four S14 motor that featured in the standard M3, only with power dialled up to 215hp over the base car’s 200hp output. While not quite as punchy as the Evo II, Cecotto Edition models all came with catalytic converters, which would later appear on future iterations of the E30 M3.
Though it was a few horses down on the Evo II, BMW raided the model’s parts bin to give the Cecotto Edition a racier look over the standard M3. The deeper front bumper and the reworked rear spoiler were plucked from the Evo II, while the rear glass was thinner to reduce weight. The rims, meanwhile, were stretched to 16 inches and finished with metallic black centre painting that, at the time, was unique to the Cecotto model. It shared the same body colour palette as the Evo II as well, but only Cecotto Editions received valve covers painted in the same colour as the exterior. If the wheels weren’t much of a giveaway, the engine compartment certainly will be.
That, and the fact that each Cecotto Edition was marked with a plaque containing the build number in the centre console. Well, all but those destined for the Swiss market. These cars were visually identical to the Cecotto cars other European nations received, only power was slightly reduced to cater for Switzerland’s tougher emission laws and the build number isn’t noted inside the cabin.
But the car we have here is the full-fat model, as the plaque reading number 240 of the original 480 production run confirms, with the remaining 25 cars named after the touring car ace Roberto Ravaglia. We didn’t get either edition in the UK and they were both sold exclusively as right hookers. And with so few built, they naturally command a pretty penny. This example, with an impressive 98,000 miles on the clock, is up for £149,925, which is actually the most inexpensive E30 M3 on the PH classifieds with a listed price. It’s not often that the, er, least expensive model up for sale is one of the rarest. That sounds like a good enough reason snap it up if our maths is anything to go by.
SPECIFICATION | BMW M3 (E30) JOHNNY CECOTTO EDITION
Engine: 2,302cc four-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 215@6,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 170@4,600rpm
MPG: 32 (Evolution)
Year registered: 1989
Recorded mileage: 98,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £149,925
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