The four prototypes that BMW is remembering on this feast day are:
- 1986 BMW M3 Pickup
- 1996 BMW M3 Compact
- 2000 BMW M3 Touring
- 2011 BMW M3 Pickup
As we stated earlier, all four vehicles didn't make it past the prototype stage due to various reasons. The oldest – and in our opinion – the best is the BMW M3 pickup from 1986. While the E30 M3 has been commended for its driving capabilities, BMW's Motorsport department also saw the sports car's potential for transporting parts and work equipment, though it didn't have enough room. That's where the concept of a pickup came in.
The truck started life as a 3 Series convertible with the "Italian M3" engine, which was a smaller 2.0-liter unit that made 192 horsepower. The engine was eventually replaced by the original 2.3-liter four-cylinder motor that generated 200 horsepower. The M3 Pickup was used as a transporter for roughly 26 years before the vehicle was officially retired in 2012.
The next prototype, and arguably the most boring is the 1996 M3 Compact. The vehicle was meant to appeal to younger customers as an entry-level model into the wonderful world of M cars. When making the vehicle, BMW planned to reduce the 3.2-liter inline-six's output for road use, but the prototype still puts out the full 321 horsepower.
Fast wagons aren't a thing in the US, but the touring body style is a hit in Europe. And while every enthusiast loves a high-performance wagon, automakers apparently like the body style as well. The 2000 M3 Touring was built to serve in-house purposes. Essentially, BMW built the vehicle to prove that it could be done with little difficulty. We have a feeling that an E46 M3 Touring would have done extremely well.
Lastly, and more recently, is the 2011 M3 Pickup. The build, just like the original prototype, started with a convertible model. BMW, though, got the cruel idea to play a prank on enthusiasts and decided to use the pickup as an April Fools' joke. Spy shots of the vehicle running around the Nurburgring surfaced and BMW even went so far as to release a press release for the vehicle. In a similar fashion to the original prototype, the pickup is used as a workshop transport car, but is licensed for road use.
As we pointed out in our first drive of the 2015 BMW M3, the sports car has a playful side that makes the vehicle extremely enjoyable to drive. While the latest F80 M3 may not be as lovable as the prototypes that came before it, the high-performance sedan takes some inspiration from some amazing prototypes.