Back in the 90s amidst a moment of brilliant madness, BMW produced a 3.2-litre inline-six-powered M3 Compact. It was effectively a forerunner to the M2, but never made it past the prototype phase. A real shame, but one even madder 3er Compact did make it onto the road.
It wasn’t an official BMW effort, rather the work of now-defunct tuning house Hartge. And it didn’t use a ‘puny’ straight-six. Nope, Hartge squeezed a 4.7-litre V8 in the Compact’s diminutive frame.
The engine started life as BMW’s M62 4.4-litre V8 before Hartge enlarged it to extract around 340bhp, which was sent to the rear wheels via an E36 M3 Evo six-speed manual gearbox. For an N/A engine in 1999, that’s an impressive output, particularly considering the relatively lightweight car it powered.
It’s also a lot for something with a smattering of ancient suspension components carried over from the E30 3-series. Thankfully, Hartge’s work extended beyond the lunacy under the bonnet.
The car received Bilstein adjustable suspension, a bespoke Hartge rear axles and a much-needed brake upgrade. Thanks to a body kit, a new exhaust system and some multispoke wheels that look hilariously oversized for Compact, there’s no mistaking it for stock. The finishing touch was a set of Hartge dials, including a speedometer that goes up to 300kmh.
The cost of all that was high - the completed Compact 4.7 was sold for 146,000 Deutsche Mark, which works out at just over €100,000 when adjusted for inflation. A niche prospect, then, which is perhaps why only two are thought to have been made.