Fact: station wagons are incredibly cool, and few car makers make cooler station wagons than BMW.
But one station wagon that BMW never made was a M3 Touring version of their iconic E46 3 Series. Produced from 1997 to 2006 (and from 1999 to 2005 in ‘Touring’ wagon form), the E46 remains one of the most successful and popular vehicles the German marque has ever made: boasting the perfect combination of modern aesthetics and safety/quality-of-life features with old-school rawness and simplicity. Moreover, the E46 M3 is widely considered one of, if not the greatest M car of all time, Road & Track relates.
Yet BMW never made a Touring version of their best M3, barring a one-off prototype built in 2000 as a feasibility study. This, in many revhead’s minds, was a massive missed opportunity: imagine a version of the best ‘ultimate driving machine’ that you can also do the shopping in? (BMW finally bit the bullet this year and introduced a M3 Touring with the G20 3 Series.)
Thankfully, one enterprising revhead has done what BMW never did and created their very own E46 M3 Touring. Currently on sale on Gumtree, it might just be the best second-hand car currently on sale in Australia… But there lies the catch.
So spit it out already! The 2004 model year car might be listed for sale in Fitzroy, Melbourne but it’s actually in New Zealand. But before you walk away, it’s not that simple. Yes, it’s in Aotearoa, but the owner’s willing to help ship it Down Under. On top of that, it’s easily one of the best-executed of what’s a very small number of M3 Touring replicas/tributes/projects (can you call it a replica when they never made the thing?) on the planet, and one of apparently two in right-hand drive.
This isn’t a bodge-job, either. Built in 2015 by respected Auckland BMW specialists Hellbm Motorsport using a donor M3 and a 318i M Sport Touring, this speedy wagon “has M3 everything, from [the] rear view mirror to [an] M3 spare wheel well… It is as close to the concept M3 Touring as you will get but better,” the seller relates.
It has a whole host of tasteful supporting modifications as well. Some highlights include Bilstein coilovers with adjustable front camber/caster plates; Porsche Brembo brake calipers both front and rear; Recaro front seats trimmed in M Sport fabric; and Fuchs M Double Spoke wheels, an extra cost option back in the day. The build thread on the NZ Bimmersport forums is a real odyssey.
It’s hard to figure out how powerful the car is. In coupe guise, the E46 M3 made around 248kW and could do 0-100 in 5.1 seconds. An M3 Touring will no doubt be much heavier, but considering the supporting mods and tune this beast has received, there’s a good chance it’s more powerful and even faster.
The real kicker is the asking price: only $60,000 (and that’s Aussie dollars, not Kiwi). That’s not an unreasonable price for a standard E46 M3, but then when you consider how unique this car is – and the no doubt insane investment it’s received to get it to this level of ~mwah~ perfection – it’s quite good buying.
Sure, shipping it over from NZ is a bit of a pain, but it’s probably worth it. Hell, it’d be worth it to ship it even further afield, to the UK or Japan or something – or even be the excuse you need to pack it up and move to NZ rather than the other way around. It’s pretty choice, bro.
Check it out on Gumtree before we decide to put it on a boat ourselves.