BMW kicked of the M3’s 30th anniversary celebrations back in late May with the limited-run “30 Jahre M3” for Europe. Several months later, the equivalent U.S. version was announced with the same Macao Blue paint and the Competition Package as standard. BMW was in a festive mood once again towards the end of September when it revealed some interesting concepts from the past to mark the M3’s important milestone. These included the E30 and E92 M3 pickups, the E36 M3 Compact, and E46 M3 Touring, all of which are being featured in the attached videos alongside the 30 Jahre M3.
In chronological order, the E30 M3 Pickup was the first to see the light of day and was built back in 1986 based on the 3 Series Convertible. That’s why it was engineered with the narrower body of the lesser model rather than the beefy body of the M3. Dubbed the “Italian M3,” in its initial specification it had a 2.0-liter engine pushing out 192 horsepower, but later on it made the switch to the original 2.3-liter unit with 200 hp. It was used by BMW at the factory for more than 26 years before being retired in 2012.
In 1996, BMW had the wonderful idea to do an M3 Compact envisioned as the entry-level M model targeting a younger audience. According to Jakob Polschak, head of vehicle prototype building and workshops at BMW M Division (best job ever?), the M3 Compact is to a certain extent the “forefather of today’s BMW M2.” He goes on to specify that if it had gone into series production, the engine’s output would’ve been dialed down, but in the concept it had the entire 321 ponies in a car weighing a mere 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds).
The M3 Touring was built in 2000 strictly to serve in-house purposes and to demonstrate that it would have been technically possible to give the 3 Series wagon the full-blown M treatment. The only obstacle would’ve been reshaping the rear doors in order to make them compatible with the beefy rear wheel arches, but other than that, the transition from a concept to a series production car would have been pretty much smooth sailing.
Some of you might remember BMW’s April Fools’ Day prank from 2011: the one and only E92 M3 Pickup. Developed to serve as a replacement for BMW’s aging E30 M3 Pickup workhorse, the E92-based utilitarian version of the M3 also used the underpinnings of the regular 3 Series Convertible. BMW originally wanted to keep the conversion work under the radar, but then someone from the company’s marketing team came up with the idea to introduce the car on April 1. To make it seem like the real deal, the M3 Pickup was described in the original press release issued by BMW as being the “fourth body variant” alongside the sedan, coupe, and convertible.
Looking into the future, an all-new M3 is expected to hit the streets around 2019 taking into account the next-gen 3 Series, which has already been caught on camera multiple times, will be introduced by the end of 2017 or early 2018.