BMW Engineers Built The M3 Wagon Before They Got Approval

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This is how the long-awaited M3 wagon came to be.

Last week, BMW M released a video on YouTube that explained a little bit of the company's history with the concept of the M3 Touring. Therein, we learned that, although a full, working concept was built, the E46 M3 Touring was too much of an expensive technical challenge to bring to market and was ultimately canned for feasibility reasons. But with more modular construction defining the cars of today, such challenges are less difficult to overcome. Nevertheless, bringing the station wagon version of the iconic BMW M3 to market presented many challenges, which the below video begins to unpack. As the second in a series of short videos covering the birth of the M3 wagon and its journey to the Nurburgring, BMW is subtly announcing that a full reveal is drawing very close.


Christian Karg, who is "responsible for the overall concept" of high-performance M models and special M editions, explains that the idea of pursuing an M3 Touring concept came about in Sweden in the winter of 2019, while testing of the G80 and G82 was still ongoing. Testers of the vehicles realized that the M3 and M4 would be too good not to be further exploited, and thus the idea was born. The biggest challenge was creating enthusiasm for the vehicle within the company, or so it seemed in the early stages.

As it turns out, BMW M management and the other decision-makers at the company needed little prodding to be convinced that this car was a good idea, but for them to have such a positive response, a secret team of engineers first had to decommission a G80 test vehicle and strip it bare.


They then had to do the same thing with a G21 (station wagon) 3 Series. After plenty of secret development, a show car was created and presented to the higher-ups, who (thankfully) agreed that this car simply had to be made.

Fitting the G80's wider-track axles to the G21 was a challenge, and although the front end of the car would be relatively easy to swap over, other challenges would present themselves. Hubert Weichselbaumer is responsible for the construction of all test vehicles and prototypes, and after Karg explained that he wanted a show car as an internal persuader, the work swapping the G80's parts over to the G21 began. The C-pillar was especially difficult to create, as was the rear bumper. But eventually, the chassis and body were modified to look like they belonged on a full M car.


After the car was finally complete and ready for presentation, the efforts of all involved in this skunkworks project were rewarded with the approval they sought. The car's internal codename - Bielefeld - could finally be changed to G81, signifying that it was fully authorized to become a mass-produced M car.

However, a G81 cannot simply look like one. It needs to drive and behave like a true M car, so the next video will cover the development process of making this drive like a real M3.


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