Did BMW ever build an one-off E36 M3 3.2 Compact?

BMW M3 | February 6th, 2010 by 17
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And the answer is yes. The history of M cars is fascinating and sometimes older information are hard to come by, furthermore, some things are …

And the answer is yes. The history of M cars is fascinating and sometimes older information are hard to come by, furthermore, some things are being lost in the past.

How many of you were aware of an E36 M3 Compact model? If you raised your hand, then this article might not relate to you, but we have to admit that this one has slipped through our knowledge of BMW history.

The 3.2-liter E36 M3 was first shown at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show, but the North American-spec version did not appear until the 1996 New York International Auto Show. The E36 M3 3.2 was immediately produced in coupe and convertible forms, as well as a four-door sedan. Like the original 3.0-liter E36 M3, 3.2-liter models were equipped with two different powerplants, one for North America (S52) and a second for Europe and the rest of the world (S50 B32).

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Now here is where it gets interesting. BMW M Division built an an extra model, an one-off car in a Compact form, hatchback as we call it here in the States. What it’s even more interesting is the fact that BMW built this one single unit in honor of the 50th birthday of the german Auto Motor und Sport magazine.

The E36 BMW M3 3.2 Compact was powered by the S50 B32 european engine and featured a Getrag six-speed manual gearbox. To make it stand out even more from the regular M, the car featured a special quad-tip exhaust configuration that previewed the similar arrangement that would later appear on the E36/7 M roadster and E36/8 M coupe.

E36 M3 3.2 Compact model also included an M-tuned suspension, M3-spec brakes and 17-inch forged M Double Spoke alloy wheels. An M-Technic aero package, M aerodynamic rear-view mirrors and clear turn signal lenses dressed up the Bright Red (314) exterior, while the interior was treated to the M3 instrument panel, Recaro racing seats in black cloth with red four-point seatbelts, plus an Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob.

The car was featured in the AMS magazine back in 1996 and a scan of the article can be seen below.

We hope we enjoy this and stay tuned for more BMW history flashbacks!

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[Source: bmwmregistry and AMS ]

Hat tip to Anthony M.!

17 responses to “Did BMW ever build an one-off E36 M3 3.2 Compact?”

  1. LMendez says:

    I feel uneasy everytime I see the normal one for I think it’s hideous :(

  2. Brandon says:

    Very cool car. I’m guessing it’s the same wheelbase as all E36?
    If I could have BMW build me a car it would be an E30 M3 Touring.

  3. E31fan says:

    That’s pretty cool, not a fan of compacts though.

    How about an article about the M8 prototype that was featured in some BMW magazine for this month? I’d like to see that but I can’t find the magazine for sale anywhere locally.

  4. Jaime says:

    Excelente article!!!!!

    Firts news for me!!!


  5. viper says:

    old stuff…

  6. bob says:

    thanks for the x-post.

  7. Alvin Wong says:


    The E36 design just looks so good. Still does.

  8. Auday says:

    nice article and nice car!!

  9. Kyle says:

    I always liked the E36 318ti so this is right up my alley

  10. Tom Hegedosh says:

    i built one a few years ago. it was pretty fun but a lot of $$$ for the full conversion including front suspension

  11. ralph says:

    yep i like 3.2 compact . im after a e30 with a e36 3.2 m3 conv anybody out there who,s got 1 for sale please

  12. ralph says:

    yep like the 3.2 compact . im after a e30 with a e36 3.2 conv, anybody out there who,s got 1 please

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