The BMW M3 turns 30 this year and to celebrate BMW has let some of its M3-based one-off Frankenstein creations out into the sunlight.
The E46 M3 was a favourite here at MOTOR. It won our 2002 Performance Car of the Year contest and was victorious in pretty much every comparison test it took part in between 2001-2006.
It paired a razor-sharp 252kW 3.2-litre inline-six with one of the friendliest and most balanced sports car chassis ever created. We even ranked the hardcore CSL version as our 10th greatest performance car of all time.
However, it did present a problem for the enthusiast with a family, as like the original E30 M3 it was only available as a coupe and a convertible, the four-door variant which appeared with the E36 range being dropped.
As it turns out, BMW was investigating a practical version of the E46, with this Touring (BMW-speak for wagon) prototype built to investigate the feasibility of offering a production model.
Specifically, the prototype was built to ensure that the standard 3 Series Touring bodyshell and its rear doors could incorporate the flared rear wheel arches of the M3 coupe without the need for expensive additional tooling.
Judging by the existence of this one-off, the project was a success and looks fantastic, but sadly BMW never pressed the go button for production. It did, however, create a ‘Touring’ version of the V10-engined E60 M5.
BMW's M3 '30 Jahre' anniversary model goes on sale later this year.