Better late than never.
This is the year that marks 30 years of BMW's iconic M-Cars. The first E30 M3 in 1986 quickly became the benchmark for performance and that's still the same today. Comments like "but how does it run against an M3?" are often heard when new competitor performance models are released. Over the years, M cars have been precision-tuned, packed with tech and are as at home on a racetrack as they are on the road. So to celebrate 30 years of M, BMW has released four M3 prototypes that almost made production, but didn't. And yes, some should have.
At BMW Motorsport, employees liked the '86 M3 and wanted to use one to transport goods in the premises, but the sedan wasn't set up for it, so they swapped everything into an E30 cabrio shell and carved a load bay into the rear end. It also eventually ended up with a 2.4-liter, 200 hp engine. The one-off creation served at the factory for 26 years before retirement four years ago, essentially an M workhorse. Then came the E36 M3 Compact in 1996, regarded as the forefather to today's M2 with great power output and a smaller size. The idea was to try and tempt younger buyers into the M car fold. We'd have bought one, even though it may have sported less power than the sedan, it would still be heaps of fun.
The car that should have been, the E46 M3 Touring. This one was seriously considered for production, journos were even given a drive in it. It was built for "in-house" purposes, basically BMW made it to prove to itself that it could be done. Simple tooling changes were all that was needed, the rest fitted like a kid's Lego toy. Such a pity we missed this one. The last oddity to be revealed is the E92/3 M3 Pickup. This was created pretty much just to replace the retired E30 version, an out with the old, in with the new kind of thing. It makes 420 hp and can carry a load of almost 1,000 lbs. A great combination of all that M cars stand for along with added practicality. Interesting stuff.