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Joke is on BMW’s M3 ute

Beaut German ute: First M3 pick-up will also be the last, says BMW.

Jig is up for M3 super-ute as BMW officially lets April fool's joke out of the bag

BMW logo2 Apr 2011

APRIL fool’s jokes were flavour of the month among auto-makers this time last year.

Perhaps that familiarity bred contempt, or maybe many car companies simply aren’t in a jovial mood right now, during the still-uncertain aftermath of Japan’s devastating earthquake just three weeks ago.

For whatever reason, BMW was one of only a few attempting an April 1 gag this year – Kia was another, campaigning against bird droppings on dealers’ forecourts in the UK – but sadly the Bavarian brand’s elaborate 2011 hoax was exposed as just that more than a week earlier by BMW itself, after spy shots of this logic-defying M3 ute emerged from the Nurburgring in mid-March.

Asked by Autoblog to explain, BMW Munich product communications chief Dirk Arnold reportedly said on March 22: “Ah, yes, everyone’s been talking about that pick-up. But, no, this is... how you call it, an April fool’s joke.

“It is hugely doubtful that BMW will ever during our lives produce such a vehicle, in any segment,” said Mr Arnold, letting the cat out of the bag in no uncertain terms.

14 center imageNeedless to say, the admission took plenty of wind out of the sails of the BMW M3 Pick-up’s “world debut”, which was duly announced via press release more than a week later on April 1, although the Nurburgring spy shots that circulated the internet had indeed tricked more than a few observers into believing a tray-backed M3 was indeed destined for showrooms.

Nevertheless, the official images of the gas-axed M3 Coupe, which turns out to be a genuine runner, reveal the extraordinary lengths to which BMW’s M skunkworks has gone to produce a bona fide M-division pick-up truck, even if it attempted a similar concept in the 1980s and Aussie golf pro Stuart Appleby has been there and done that with his converted E39 M5 ute a few years back.

For posterity’s sake, BMW’s M3 Coupe-based two-door ute is powered by the same sublime 4.0-litre V8 as the production M3 sedan, coupe and convertible, delivering the same 309kW at the same stratospheric 8300rpm to its rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

No official performance figures have yet been released for “the world’s fastest pick-up”, but BMW says its testers saw 300km/h during extensive testing at the ‘Ring in the rapid cargo carrier, which the company claims has undergone all the modifications necessary to be street-legal in Germany, where it is officially classified as a truck.

At the same time, the fourth body style derivative to wear the hallowed M3 moniker is claimed to undercut the M3 Convertible’s 1885kg kerb weight by 50kg, despite extensive rear body and suspension modifications to accommodate a cool aluminium chequer-plate rear tray that is claimed to handle up to 450kg or some 20 standard golf bags – the largest cargo capacity any BMW model has ever offered.

What’s more, BMW says its self-indulgent super-ute, which features a targa-top roof that can be removed to lower the centre of gravity by 20kg, recorded an aerodynamic Cd factor on par with the M3 Coupe at the BMW Group’s Aerodynamic Test Centre.

Naturally, BMW’s first ever ute is also the first M3 in the history of the iconic nameplate to come with a towbar – and a flip-down tailgate.

BMW came clean on its sophisticated prank in its April 1 press release, however, by revealing the M3 Pick-up will “retain its status as an exclusive one-off” and will be pressed into action as a workshop delivery vehicle for BMW M GmbH.

Inside the M3-based cabin is a carbon-fibre dashboard strip and a special badge to commemorate the project.

BMW’s M maestros revealed another unique badge for another April fool’s joke on the same day, this time from BMW Britain in the form of a limited-edition M3 Coupe to mark the upcoming wedding of Prince William.

“Now available to order from dealerships across the country, the Royal Edition of the popular M3 will be available in a choice of three exclusive colours – Regal Red, Bridal White and Imperial Blue,” said the BMW UK press release.

“It is resplendently upholstered in Windsor White Dakota leather and adorned with a commemorative ‘Will’ emblem.” The ‘Royal M3’ follows similar previous antics by BMW UK, including the BMW Political Roundel Attachment Tag, which let owners show their partisanship during the UK general election, and the Canine Repellent Alloy Protection, which allegedly stopped dogs from relieving themselves on customers’ wheels.

This year’s Will-edition M3 gag was accompanied by a convincing mock advertisement complete with a clever ‘Will’ badge that attracted plenty of double-takes.

But it was far less extravagant than BMW Munich’s M3 utility project, which – if nothing else - shows the remarkable automotive ingenuity that brought us motoring marvels such as the M3 and M5 is alive and well and at BMW.

It’s just a shame those bright Bavarians had the temerity to produce such a tasty truck, then keep it all to themselves.

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