BMW launched its first E21 3 Series model back in 1975. The original generation of the 3 Series was sold through 1983, while a second generation, internally called the E30, was launched in 1982 as a 1983 model.

While the E21 pioneered many features still found in the 3 Series, it was arguably the E30 models that won the affections of enthusiast drivers, solidifying BMW’s claim of building the “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Unlike the E21, which came in coupe and cabriolet forms only, the E30 was available in coupe, sedan, wagon and cabriolet variants. E30 buyers could also choose between rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive, while the E21 was rear-drive only.

The E30 was produced from 1982 through 1991, although the cabriolet version soldiered on through 1993. While the E21 largely emphasized fuel economy, the E30 focused on performance, and ultimately gave rise to cars like the 325is and the first-generation BMW M3, originally developed to race in the DTM series.

To honor three decades of the BMW E30, Germany's E21/E30 BMW 3 Series Club will hold a gathering on June 16 at the BMW Museum in Munich. Over 50 cars are expected to be on display, and club members will be on hand to field questions relating to the E21 and E30 models.

A tour of the BMW Museum is also planned, including access to the normally-restricted BMW Group Classic display. If you find yourself in Munich this weekend, it may be worth dropping in just to check out the time capsule cars on display.