The E30 M3 might be the most popular classic BMW going, such is its cult appeal, performance and handling. However, it's only now someone has gone to the trouble of combining two of the E30's most desirable body shapes, the two-door and the touring to create an 'M Wagon'.
The five door E30 3 Series touring was actually something of a first for BMW, being their first true 'estate' car, featuring a box-like rear accessed by a top-hinged hatch. True, some 2002s wore a 'Touring' badge, but would not be considered an 'estate' in modern parlance, adopting more of a fastback appearance.
Despite this tradition of two door 'Touring' models, BMW never decided to produce a two-door version of their new E30 wagon.
By the mid-eighties, two-door estate cars were becoming far less common than they had been in the '60s and '70s, understandable as the practical gains of having an extended boot are at odds with the inconvenience of only having two doors on a four seat car.
Nonetheless, the 'shooting brake' body style (sometimes less glamorously referred to as the 'bread van') of the two-door estate remains an appealing silhouette to many, as evident from many custom conversions to other two-door cars. The XJ derived Lynx Eventer is a case in point.
Indeed one Dutch company is rumoured to have produced an extremely limited run of E30 two door wagons, while one-off jobs are also in existence.
Something about the elongated 'two-box' lends an aerodynamic appearance (although it may or many not reduce drag in reality) in many people's eyes. For this reason, the E30 Touring is much sort after not just for its practicality, but also simply for its appearance.
However, there is something inherently un-sporty about having four doors. If sportiness is about focusing on the handling and performance of the car, at the expense of practicality, then two extra doors weighing you down make little sense.
In the US however, Griot's garage have solved this problem, by creating an 'M Wagon', purporting to be the first E30 M3 'shooting brake'.
The company began with a standard specification E30 Touring, removing the rear doors and adding the longer doors from the two-door E30. Griot's then fabricated new, M3 like, flared wheel-arches at the front and rear to complete the appearance.
The company haven't confirmed if the body was shortened, but we suspect a couple of inches were taken out of the middle of the car as well.
Under the bonnet, the 'M Wagon' is fitted with a 4.0 litre M60 V8, sourced from a mid-nineties 540i. Indeed most of the powertain from the 540i was carried over, including its 6-speed manual gearbox.
While undoubtedly now a serious performance machine, producing 282 bhp in its current state of tune, the 'M Wagon' is of course very different to an actual E30 M3, what with its V8. Many regard the high-strung 'fizziness' of the E30 M3s four-cylinder engine crucial to its character, so it is a shame an S14 couldn't have been fitted.
Whether it is fair to really call it the first E30 'M Wagon' or not, is perhaps up to interpretation. However, the car is an interesting build in any case and offers the perfect high-performance, load-lugging eighties solution.
Griot's promise to release more details on how they put together the machine in the future, so do check their website for future updates.