At this point in BMW’s history, there’s pretty much a Bimmer for all of your needs. Track? M2, M3, or M4. Hauling the dog and the family? X2 or X3. Towing? X5. Commuting? 330e or 330i. You get the jist.
But what happens when you need a pickup truck?
As the flagship of the German automaker, the 3 Series has seen many forms, such as coupe, convertible, sedan, wagon, and compact. But besides the 1986 E30 M3 prototype and 2011 E9X M3 April’s Fools concepts that we’ve seen over the years, there’s never been an official E46 variant to split the 3 Series pickup truck lineup. While the rather-recent X7 crew-cab concept that debuted last July during BMW’s Motorrad Days is also worth mentioning in this discussion, it isn’t exactly in-line with the 3 Series pickup’s history.
While I’ve seen people use their E21 Baurs and other convertibles to haul the occasional piece of plywood, a BMW with a truck bed isn’t a common sight.
The first generation of the iconic M3 bore witness to BMW’s M Division 1986 E30 M3 pickup truck—a modified E30 M3 convertible that proved to be just as fun to row some gears in as it did to transport parts between manufacturing sites. BMW claimed that the birth of the E30 M3 pickup wasn’t merely a “gimmick” or “engineering exercise”—in fact, the fully-functional prototype went about its duties on site at BMW’s Munich factory for over 26 years, before retiring in 2012.
History repeated itself in 2011, when the same masterminds behind the E30 M3 decided to create a worthy successor: the E9X M3 pickup. While you could refer to it as an E92 or E93, BMW argued that the quad-exhaust-equipped S65-driven Munich monster with a 992-pound payload capacity was more aptly described as an unlabeled, “fourth variant” of the M3 lineup. Similar to its predecessor, the 2011 M3 pickup was based on the convertible variant of that generation, due to its built-in bracing. Although the existence of the M3 pickup was meant to be an elaborate April Fool’s joke at the hands of BMW, many journalists and enthusiasts alike bought into the “spy” photos of the V8 pickup going through “testing” on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit. BMW’s commitment to the joke proved to be fruitful in capturing the media’s attention, and some enthusiasts even seemed willing to buy a production model with something akin to excitement, although others didn’t exactly share the same sentiment.
To the dismay of those willing to consider buying such an oddity, Munich brass admitted that the prototype, though fully-functional and road-legal, was built solely as a one-off “workshop transport” vehicle—just like its forefather E30 El Camino of sorts.
Now back to the original question: If you can’t buy a Bimmer in pickup form, what do you do? Well, you’re out of luck—unless you’re this person, that is.
While BMW themselves have not released another pickup prototype since 2011’s April Fool’s reveal, it appears that many enthusiasts were inspired by their creations. Just a few weeks ago, Auto Addiction captured a video of what appears to be an Estoril Blue E46 M3 coupe-turned-pickup taking a spin around the Nürburgring on a rainy day. Although details of the peculiar performance pickup build remain largely unknown, it can be inferred that this M3 started life as any other in the production run. Besides boasting a new rear window, the blue truck also appears to have a metal firewall and a lined bed behind the cab—saying cab in reference to any BMW just feels wrong.
Although it is hard to tell through the video’s audio (from 1:47 to 2:09) whether this enthusiast’s creation is still driven by the original S54 engine, we do know one thing: This Bavarian anomaly is one seriously interesting creation.—Malia Murphy
[Photos courtesy BMW AG and Auto Addiction on Youtube.]