One of the oldest BMW tuners in the business is also one of the least known outside of Germany. Hartge has been tuning BMW models since 1971 and has been in the business nearly as long as ALPINA.

Unfortunately, we haven’t head a lot from them lately because their business went bust. Yet, their amazing creations from over the years are still found in all sorts of places around the world, just like secret gems.

One of those hidden gems is this 1997 BMW 3 Series Compact. This is basically BMW’s first attempt at making a compact model for the masses, a 1 Series predecessor if you will. The aim here was to create a smaller car with a lower price tag, for those looking to own a BMW.

The E36 platform was the first one used as a test bed for these ‘Compact’ cars and the end-result was a car that had a lot of parts from the E30 3 Series model.

While the initial idea was to offer a ‘budget’ BMW, some people decided this platform could be used to create perfect sleepers. Hartge was among that category and they created this monster which uses a 4.7-liter V8 under the hood, good for 350 HP and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque.

If the 4.7-liter capacity doesn’t sound familiar that’s because the engine was actually a 4.4-liter M62 which was bored and stroked by Hartge to get more power out of it.

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The engine is just a small part of what the overall upgrades on this car. The suspension was also changed as was the gearbox and brakes. There’s also a new exhaust on and a new set of wheels in the typical Hartge design.

The end result can be drooled over in the photo gallery below. The price tag is around €75,000 equivalent today and a 0-62 mph sprint that took under 5 seconds.

And it can all be yours, as this particular unit is going under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s Essen auction on March 26-27.

[Note: Not the actual car sold at the auction]