Who really hates Beemers? BMW has a rich history of making one of the best performance saloons on this planet. The German giant churns out volumes of cars everyday from its Munich-based plant. One car however is loved by many, mainly for its relatively affordable price tag, practicality and just pure brand value, yes we’re talking about none other than the versatile 3 Series. There have been many iterations of the 3 Series – a sports sedan, wagon and the recently launched GT. But there was one more variation in the 3 Series that BMW wanted to put out, but thankfully didn’t. That was a BMW Pickup.
It was in 1986 that BMW’s factory personnel came across this need for a compact, multi-utility parts hauler for their ‘M’ division, here the idea of a pickup took shape. The car that was put to duty was the 1986 BMW E30 M3. BMW Motorsport thought that the versatile M3 would make a great platform for a pickup. A convertible body shell was chosen for two reasons, as explained by Jakob Polschak. Firstly, they happened to have such a model in perfect condition at their disposal. Secondly, the convertible’s built-in bracing made it the ideal choice for a pickup conversion.
Initially the BMW pickup was equipped with a 2.0-litre emission-restricted engine that pumped out 192 horsepower. But soon need for more power kicked in and hence it received an upgrade in the form of a new S14 four cylinder engine that produced around 200 horsepower. This was the same engine also used in the original M3. So did it gain popularity? Obviously, although kept as a secret, this project soon got leaked and Beemer fans went head over heels. It was unusual in design but yet had an uncanny appeal. However, enthusiasts mourned as BMW called it off as one-of-a-kind prototype. But some crazy blokes got their hands dirty and made their very own 3 Series BMW pickup and this trend just kept going on.
In 2011 BMW pulled off a massive Aprils Fools prank for its fans. They pulled the wraps off another pickup based on their convertible sedan. This time the vehicle was yet another 3 Series, but the version was based on the E92 series of BMW’s M3. No, it wasn’t meant for production and just to spice up things BMW pulled some hot laps around the Nurburgring to entice spy photographers and auto journalists, before its official unveiling. Kay Segler, the head of BMW’s M division at that time was in full praise of the car’s capabilities. It housed the M3’s 4.0-litre V8 engine, churning out 414HP. To add to that, the car weighed 150 pounds (68kg) less than the base coupe, making it the fastest targa top pickup at that time. The company also touted about its 990 pounds (449kg) payload capacity and its removable trailer hitch. Although after BMW announced it was an April Fools prank, some of the grief-struck true-blue Beemer fans took the concept and made their own custom M3 pickups!
Recently Mercedes’ leaked renderings of the X-Class pickup have created quite a stir. Many have showed interest in this premium utility concept, and it would be an icing on the cake if it also is a great drive experience. BMW although turned down the offer of entering into such a niche. Hendrik von Kuenheim, BMW group’s senior vice president of Asia, Pacific and South Africa, once said “pickups don’t suit our brand image and culture, so we won’t come up with such a body style.” He admits that there is lot of potential in this segment but BMW “is not ready to change from the ultimate driving machine to a company belting out volumes of pickup trucks.”
This can be called contradictory as BMW, a longtime manufacturer of sports sedans, introduced SUV’s such as the X5, X3 and the X1 which became incredibly popular. But to this, Keunheim replied “It wasn’t much of a departure as many would have thought it to be.” BMW could always change its mind in future, but for those who have been waiting for it, will have to shift their attention towards other brands offering similar products. We honestly, would love to see a BMW pickup, but as of now its probably better that the German recognises its own limits.