Engine swaps don't get much more unexpected than this.
When BMW decided to shove a big V8 lump under the hood of the E92 M3 back in 2007, not everyone was happy. After all, this broke a long tradition of inline-six engines powering one of the most revered BMWs of them all. Most critics were silenced once they experienced the S65's glorious V8 howl, though.
But it's not BMW's V8 that's the subject of this story - it's a Ferrari-Maserati V8. That's because a BMW M3 Convertible owner decided his Bimmer needed a V8 sourced from Italy, not Germany, under the hood. The reasons for this are unclear and it certainly ranks among one of the strangest engine swaps we've stumbled upon, but it only takes one look at this M3 to warm up to it.
Outside, this custom M3 - a project three years in the making - has a noticeably widened Pandem body kit, darkened headlamps, massive 19-inch black wheels, and a hard-to-miss spoiler. It rides on a self-leveling air suspension and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, making it all the more engaging to drive. That's a big deal considering Ferrari has ditched the manual gearbox on all its offerings.
As the presenter from South Africa's cars.co.za elaborates, the V8 engine uses a cross-plane crankshaft configuration which gives it a different sound to the Ferrari-only versions, which used a flat-plane crank. As a work in progress, the builders of this once-off M3 are looking to utilize individual throttle bodies and add twin turbochargers to it in the future.
The turbos should help the engine deliver more than the 300 or so horsepower it is currently tuned to deliver, with an aim (before turbocharging) of about 335 hp. When the car is fully complete, it should be a monster, but just listening to that V8 scream in the shell of an M3 is plenty of entertainment on its own. Inside, the custom M3 has (part of) a steering wheel from an M3 CSL and special racing seats.
We thought that an E46 BMW M3 engine in a first-gen X3 SUV was a pretty strange engine swap, but at least that motor and body both came from the same stable. The Ferrari-powered M3, on the other hand, is like nothing else out there and, at the very least, deserves top marks for originality.