Pickups have exuded appeal for BMW, and it’s made several one-offs throughout its history, but the idea of putting one into production always seemed distant. As cool as it would have been for BMW to offer pickups, the company’s profile, image, and perception have ultimately ended up negating any pickup plans that it may have had. We won’t know how serious BMW was about putting a pickup into production, and the last of its one-off pickups was the closest to a potential series model. But let’s start with the beginning: the E30 M3 convertible-based pickup that BMW’s Motorsport engineers challenged themselves to create.
The First Pickup Truck Based On The E30 Convertible
It was revealed in 1986 as a vehicle to haul parts around the then-new BMW Motorsport grounds, but also as a novel way to attract attention to (and promote) the first-ever M3. However, it was built on a regular E30 convertible body, so it didn’t have the M3’s characteristic wide, squared-off fenders, and its four-cylinder engine had 192 horsepower at first, although it was replaced with the M3’s 200-horsepower S14 at some point after it was revealed.
BMW only built one of these Frankenstein E30 M3 pickups, but it inspired others to copy the formula. Most of the projects it inspired didn’t use the cabrio body, though, but they retained the overall shape and idea of the original M pickup. The E30 is probably the most common BMW to be converted into a pickup, and the original Motorsport one-off ute started it all.
The E93 BMW M3 Pickup
The second official BMW pickup was another M3-based project, this time using an E93 M3 (also the convertible version) as a base. Revealed on April 1, 2011, it was evidently meant as an April Fools’ joke, but it still had a 450-kilogram (922-pound) load capacity, and unlike the E30-based pickup, it retained the M3’s widebody and stock engine, in this case, the 4-liter S65 V8 with 420 horsepower.
In the press release announcing this new supposed production model, BMW jokingly announced that the M3 E93 pickup had elevated the “relationship between race-oriented driving pleasure and everyday utility to an entirely new level. This unique vehicle has already completed extensive test and set-up drives on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife.” BMW only made one E93 M3 pickup, but just as with the E30-based pickup, the newer one also inspired others to recreate the vehicle. There is one documented recreation of the E93 pickup from South Africa, and it looks a bit better than the original thanks to a better design for the B-pillar area and a more OEM-looking black bed lining.
BMW X7 Pickup
The third and final BMW pickup project, the X7 Pick-up, revealed in 2019, was very different from the two that preceded it. Instead of using a relatively small 3 Series as the base, BMW opted instead to turn its largest offering into a pickup. The result was a vehicle that many desperately wanted the manufacturer to put into production, but BMW had no such plans. In this respect, the X7 Pick-up was just like the other two, but that’s really where the similarities ended.
Unlike the two pickups that preceded it, which were just created purely for amusement and didn’t look like high-effort projects, the one based on the X7 was far more credible. It is the only one of the three whose body has been modified to suit the pickup shape, and it works really well, giving the rear end an almost Rolls-Royce-like feel. There was also no involvement from the M division in the X7 Pick-up project. It was the work of 12 BMW vocational trainees who worked with the Concept Vehicle Construction and Model Technology divisions at the BMW Munich plant, and the philosophy behind it was different. They wanted to create a more realistic rendition of what a modern BMW luxury pickup could look like.
Starting off with a long seven-seat SUV, they were able to keep two rows of seats but also give the vehicle a 1.4-meter-long bed (55 inches) that could be extended to 2 meters (78.7 inches) with the tailgate down. Its body was 10 centimeters (4 inches) longer than the production X7, and it was all extra rear overhang to accommodate a usable-size bed—that’s why its proportions look so right, and why the design as a whole is cohesive.
Whether an X7 pickup would actually sell is debatable, but BMW isn’t taking any chances putting it into production. When we spoke to BMW Design Chief Adrian van Hooydonk at the start of 2023, he told us pickups were not an obvious fit for the company, but he didn’t say a clear no to the prospect of one being launched in the future when offering a pickup would “be somewhat believable, authentic also to the BMW brand.”