Phantom M3: The Best BMW They Never Built
The ultimate touring machine

You don’t need to look far these days to see the extremes people are willing to go to in their personal pursuit of #JoyOfMachine. We’re rather partial to crazy creations that push the boundaries of power and challenge the laws of physics of course, but in the same breath, show us a build that’s been well thought out and perfectly executed, and you’ll have our attention.

But what about a vehicle built from the ground up that largely resembles something you could buy in factory form. That couldn’t possibly be interesting. Or could it?

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-28

Let’s get it straight here though: I’m not talking about a Ferrari built on a SW20 Toyota MR-2 or Pontiac Fiero chassis, or anything to that effect, but a humble BMW sports wagon turned into the high performance machine that BMW didn’t – but really should have – made. Say hello to an unoffical E91 M3 Touring.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-24

In light of like-minded Autobahn stormers like the Mercedes C63 AMG Estate and Audi RS 4 Avant, who knows why BMW didn’t put an M3 E91 wagon into production, but for Nick Pritchard – the owner of this bespoke creation – mating an ’07 318i M Sport Touring with a E90 M3 donor car made perfect sense.  

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-1

Before we get too deep into this story though, it’s probably worth pointing out that this isn’t the first ‘M3 wagon’ to have been cooked up by an enthusiastic owner, but I’m pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to find one as thoroughly and meticulously pieced-together as this one Paddy has hunted out for us.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-13

It’s also worth noting that Nick isn’t the original owner of the car. One of his friends commissioned the build initially, but ended up moving before it had been seen through to completion. Having followed the transformation to that point, Nick stepped in, took over and completely finished it off, but not before adding some of his own personality along the way.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-73

Not only is the finished article very cool, but it’s totally believable too. Sure, you’d probably take a double look if you crept up on it in traffic, but unless you knew that an M3 Touring doesn’t exist in production form, there’s no way you’d pick it out, let alone be able to guess just how much work went into creating it.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-47

From a visual perspective, creating an OEM-style wagon version of the M3 was both a straightforward and rather complex proposition. Most parts bolted right up with ease, while others required some not-so-subtle surgery in order for them to fit just right.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-53

The standard E90 (sedan) and E91 (wagon) share the same front end treatment, but the E90 M3 sedan shares its pretty face with that of the E92 coupe, meaning everything needed to be replaced. Along with a genuine E90 M3 bumper and vented aluminium bonnet, the purposeful-looking front end has been accentuated through blacked-out BMW Performance grilles and a BMW CRT (Carbon Resin Technology) splitter below the lower intakes to pull the whole look together.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-2

To match up with the front bumper, M3 guards were prerequisite too, and it’s here that you’ll find the first of many E91 ME GTS-style BMW Feuer Orange details, which are a nice touch.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-46

While the front-end facelift might have been a bolt-on affair, translating the M3 look to the 318i M Sport wagon at the rear took a little more thought, and some cutting and welding…

All in the details
BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-29

It’s impossible to tell given the way it’s been finished, but equipping the E91 with the pumped rear guards that set M3s apart from their lesser-performing siblings, required the three quarter panels to go under the knife. Essentially, the 318i M Sport’s arches were sliced off and E90 M3 equivalents were stitched on and smoothed out.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-44

That of course required the rear bumper – originally an E91 M Sport item – to be reinvented with an M3 bumper so the guards had somewhere to meet up. The rear end aspect was then finished off with black powder-coated BMW Performance exhaust tips for all four outlets.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-25

We all know that wheels can make or break, and although Nick could have played it safe with a set of factory M3 alloys, this is one area of the build where he decided to stray off the OEM path. The Breyton Race GTSR-M wheels in 20×10-inch fitment – featuring a gloss black and polished undercut finish – were a good choice, and with their M3-specific offset and suitably-sized Falken tyres, they fill out the fenders nicely, close to flush at the rear and slightly tucked at the front.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-26

Because of their dark hue, the Breytons serve to highlight what’s been snuck in behind them too – big Brembo brakes. Although factory-spec E90 and E93 M3 stoppers would have got the job done, an upgrade in this area was always on the cards and to that end, the six-pot front calipers, four-pot rear calipers and two-piece 380mm discs at all four corners have transformed the way the wagon stops. Those with an eye for detail might have also noticed that wheel bolts have been swapped for M3 GTS-style steel lugs and aluminium nuts.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-6

Given that the E91 was originally powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder engine good for only 140hp, any upgrade under the bonnet would have been an improvement. There was only one engine that could possibly get the job done though – and the E90 M3 donor car lent its V8 heart to the cause too.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-20

Apart from RPi ram air intakes which are visible through the grilles on the previous picture, the 4.0L quad cam S65 remains totally stock. Of course, given that there’s 414hp and 295lb/ft available out of the box, there was little need to try and extract any more output out of the high performance, naturally aspirated, 90-degree bent eight.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-22

Right throughout the build, many of the M3’s finer details have been retained, like only having one properly functioning bonnet vent. It’s those little nuances that really help sell this bespoke package as a real, factory-built thing.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-36

Along with the rest of the E90 M3’s mechanical underpinnings, an E90 M-DCT double-clutch automated manual transmission is in the mix, and it’s been given a hurry up through an M3 GTS software re-flash. That means swifter shifts with less slip at high rpm, and even a faster-engaging reverse gear for quicker getaways.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-57

The suspension is factory M3 fare too, save for the shock absorbers and springs at all four corners which have been replaced for KW Variant 3 coilovers. Perfectly suited for fast road work, the V3’s dual level valves allow for separate compression and rebound dampening, and threaded perches too set up the ride height just right.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-68

Not only does the wagon sit well on the road, but you can bet it handles too. There aren’t any major differences between regular E90-series suspension and the stuff reserved for the M3, but a whole bunch of M-department tweaks combined with the KW gear has definitely set the wagon on the right path.

Sitting pretty
BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-55

As you’d expect, the M3 conversion continues into the interior space, where it’s mixed with a few other select BMW Performance and aftermarket upgrades.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-39

The entire dashboard was switched over from the donor M3 – something I can’t imagine would be an easy job – and then the driving experience further enhanced through an AC Schnitzer pedal set and BMW Performance Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel. A Schnitzer hand brake lever and some extra carbon-look detailing is a nice touch too.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-34

Some more subtle GTS-style Feuer Orange detailing has found its way into the cabin too, first on the trimmed band indicating 12 o’clock on the wheel, and secondly through the colour-coded Verstrabe extended-length DCT, CNC-machined and laser-cut aluminium shifter paddles.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-35

Remember how I talked about the little details before? Well, here’s one that swings the other way – this time the M3’s digital interface showing a wagon graphic. The system’s been fully updated with CIC hard drive satellite navigation and COMBOX for seamless mobile phone integration.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-41

You’re not likely to find a panoramic roof on any other M3, but it fits the bill nicely here. And so too do a pair of heated BMW Performance Alcantara sports seats by Recaro. I’ve had the pleasure of parking myself in these reclinable race seats before, so I’m pretty sure they’re one acquisition Nick is pleased he made, regardless of the dent they might have made in his wallet. Along with E90 M3 door panels and trim, the rear bench was also borrowed out of the donor car, requiring only some re-trimming on the rear side of the seat backs to match in with the wagon’s factory boot trim.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-15

As a complete street package that mixes form with function, I think it’s fair to say that Nick’s creation ticks all the right boxes.


Sure, there’ll be some purists out there who believe the M3 moniker is best served in coupe or sedan form, not a wagon, but if you ask me, here’s all the proof needed that BMW should have stamped its M-badge on the E91 chassis.

BMW E91 M3 Touring PMcG-63

For Nick, there’s more stuff planned too –  supercharger included, which will ultimately push power output well beyond the 500hp mark. This is very cool, but that will be awesome!

Brad Lord

Photos by Paddy McGrath
Twitter: @PaddyMcGrathSH
Instagram: speedhunters_paddy



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Gianluca FairladyZ

Nice work, rethought and built up to the last detail! That's how it got to be!


GREAT car - the attention to detail is superb and I love the fact that most people wouldn't even realise anything was up with this. The pictures are great too - it's amazing how a silver car can look so good against the drab, grey, city background.


Wow! A conversion like that takes some serious skills, also keeping in mind the car is packed with electronics, thumbs up!


I guess they underestimated how much paint they needed to mix once they got to the rear bumper....




@Jebediah  Strange comment. I can promise you that you won't find a flaw on this car's paintwork. Anything you think you see is just a trick of the light.


love the build..!


Great find guys! Amazing attention to detail. Love this car.


PaddyMcGrath  @Jebediah Using the last shot in chapter one as an example, you'll see how the lower half of the rear passenger door is also slightly darker. However the panel gap between the bumper and rear quarter accentuates the effect. The shots were taken on the roof of a car park on a flat day, so that darker band is a direct effect of the walls surrounding the location. 

I wouldn't normally bother to explain such a thing, but when presented with such an immaculate build, put together with incredible attention to detail and taste, it makes me wonder at the mentality of the person who can only criticise.


koko san  It melts my mind to think how you go about doing a conversion like this, straight up modification is far simpler. That wagon logo on the display is quite possibly my favourite part!


got a Nürburgring Sticker, what was the time on the clock?




Looks perfect, I always asked myself why BMW doesn't sell the M3 in Touring version, Mercedes has the C Estate AMG and no competitor from BMW...

Here in Spain we have one build exactly like this one, except the M3 engine.


@Fido  Unless you're in a race car or on a private track day, you should never time yourself on the 'ring. It won't end well. He has been if that's what you're asking :)




Fantastic car and article!

Seeking Perfection

This car is really close to what someone could call 'textbook perfection'. I am guessing that the 20inch wheels are a necessity to clear the 380mm discs, but from an aesthetic standpoint, 19inch BBS FI wheels would look more appealing together with the OEM BMW badges instead of the black ones (bonnet and trunk). These are barely complaints, just my opinion, because I am genuinely impressed by this car. The details that I love the most are the super expensive BMW Performance seats and the custom paddle shifters. Good job. It is for sure one the most meticulously modified cars posted in here.


Wow, this is amazing. Put this car on TE37SL's and give it a manual and you'd have my ideal, fantastical, never-going-to-happen daily driver.


@Seeking Perfection  You'll be happy to know that he also runs a set of BMW 19" M3 Competition wheels when daily driving. The Breytons are his show wheels as such. I think it's the most complete car we've featured in quite a long time, but I'm biased.


This is unbelievably nice. Well done Nick!


Stunning. Absolutely stunning! BMW...take notice!


this has too be one of the best bmw's ever built :) although i would have choosen red or black instead of the orange highlights


Isn't Birmingham beautiful?


I think I'd rather have this than an E60 M5 Touring. Completely in love with this build, amazing.


Certainly a beautiful machine executed extremely well but is this a ground breaking conversion?  I recall a Konzept: Euro x Stanceworks build that looked almost identical minus the orange bits, roof panel and right hand drive.  Were these cars built at the same time, similar components? Is one based off of the other? Granted they are both unbelievable vehicles, just curious of their relation if there is one.


Tinj  The one you've seen on Stanceworks is a 335i dressed up as an M3. It's a beautiful build, but this is a complete conversion and is as close to an E91 M3 as there ever could be. I don't believe there's any relation between the two cars as one is in Spain, and this is based in the UK.


todd_d  I love the E60 M5 but never liked the E61 Tourings. I think the back of them is just too big. I would definitely choose this over one!


mk4 lew  It's been a long time since I was last in Birmingham during the day, the area we were in was really nice.


This car makes me want to jump for joy. Amazing, meticulous, genius, and stunning. Perfecto in every aspect.


BMW really should hvae taken notice to this!


Beautiful car & a great article!

Im all for creating to suit your own needs! Im doing the same myself, but trying to replicate a concept car that never saw production.


there must be a engineer in the BMW offices saying " see, i told you so"


@truhidden  You know that!


@Brandon Anthony  Come on then, which one? We must know! :)


CharlesLau1  Pretty much my exact reaction when I first saw it :)


It's missing a GTR emblem...


I remember following the build log for this. Seriously impressive.
Nice to see a build like this. Nothing is over the top, but everything is SO well thought out and executed. If it wasn't for the wheels and orange accents (which I personally do like), the car looks like it could have rolled straight off the production line.


"But what about a vehicle built from the ground up that largely resembles something you could buy in factory form. That couldn’t possibly be interesting. Or could it?"

With all my daydreaming of builds that I should do at some point in my life, this is the key concept they're based on.

At the moment, I'm mooting what it would take to swap the 4.7l V8 from a Maserati GranTurismo and the 6sp manual transaxle from the 3200GT into an Alfa 159 Sportwagon to make the M3-fighter Alfa should have made.

It's also the premise behind my current Triumph Spit6 build. Lightest chassis Triumph had in the 70s + most powerful engine available = perfection :)

Basically, if any of the manufacturers I like the most had an AMG-like bunch of rabid engineers caged up in the basement, playing with the various factory bits they had available to them, what would they have created?


Really cool. I recognize the landmarks, the photos were taken in Birmingham,UK.


Reading this feels oh so familiar yet so much better. From big things like the obvious body and colour, to small things like the BMW air freshener and how Nicks carbon trim on the centre console goes left to right and the top section goes right to left (something I need to fix so mine all matches).
This is truly the car I wish I had, but don't.
Well done making Birmingham look good Paddy ;)


This car is unique in every way. Why didn't BMW make this in the first place, but I think they allowed builders to dream and show what they can do. But they sure would have sold many of these, just like if they made more for the E9x, it would have sold quick and a lot. But, this build shows function and form in all aspects. Nice job Paddy and Brad for bring this build to us. PaddyMcGrath  & @speedhunters_Brad


I love this thing








Yeah I just made a mess


Gorgeous! Nice find Paddy.


I love the whole package, this whole car screams "drive it like you stole it". 
My only complaint is the transmission, I just see this having a 6 speed shifter. Guess I'm just old fashioned, lol. Great build and post.


this is the answer to the c63 amg wagon that bmw should have built. i love that this is more than just a front end swap and some trick body work, its a complete conversion. so yea its added a few pounds but the convince of being able to haul all your crap and then some... its the ultimate sports car disguised as a family wagon. i remember even seeing jonsibal's sketches of this waaaay back n thinking how cool it would look if someone did that... and although the internet proves there are others... even v10 swaps... its cool to see any one of those m3 faced wagons featured in SH.


Superb job! Congrats!!


Cool car. Just wondering about the cost. Could we see a photo of the....invoice? :)))


greenroadster  Now, now... It's not about the money is it? ;) Nick told us in confidence an approx figure and it wasn't as scary as you might think, he's very capable when it comes to doing a lot of the work himself, plus when Paddy and I were asking how much to buy it, that theoretical figure was reasonable too.


A friend of mine did a similar job to his 120i hatchback. A total 1M conversion, making it the one and only 1M hatchback in Indonesia!


fredyka  That is pretty damn cool :)


d_rav  The M3 front conversion is pretty popular on the E91, and for good reason too. I think Nick was showing me a German tuner with a similar car but with the M5's V10. I've seen others with the M3 body conversion but I don't think I've seen another one with all the M3 running gear too. Although, I think that BMW may have built one as a mule at one point...


kphillips9936  To their credit, SMG II 'boxes are GOOD. Definitely one of the best dual clutches out there and with the M3 GTS software, it's definitely the fastest option. I do get where you're coming from though.


Daode  You are correct :)


MatthewDear  You know what needs to be done with your E91 next ;)


BiTurbo228  That 159 sounds epic, make it happen!


Hotcakes  I think that's the beauty of it. There's a lot of people trying to figure out why we've featured a near-stock M3 Touring...


speedhunters_dino  It's V8 you've fallen for Dino, you just don't know it yet...


PaddyMcGrath Someone spied this test mule ages ago, but nothing ever came of it. Certainly sounds V8-powered.

At the moment it's a bit beyond my financial reach, but it's something I really want to do. Hopefully once I've finished it Speedhunters can come and have a look :)


The Hatchback is awesome and we also published the car at our KW website...


Ha yeah sure, like I have the spare money to pull that off! I'll just keep drooling over it at shows..


fredyka  mantap brooo :D


PaddyMcGrath kphillips9936Not knocking it, trust me. Wouldn't mind taking it around the block/track to see for myself.


Speedhunters_Bryn greenroadster  So what is the theoretical sales price?


This wagon was the inspiration for my very own build.  Mine is the first in the US to build the E91 M Conversion painted Porsche GT3 RS Gray Black.  I didn't complete the project with the engine since the car is currently for sale, but hopefully the next owner will decide to finish the final and most exciting part of the conversion, being the drivetrain and performance aspects.


As a E90 BMW owner myself I was very excited to post the link to this article on the, only for the mods to merge it with the original post by the owner of this car himself! 
Don't you just love it when the interweb comes together? :)


Ghost Rider would appreciate this.


Wow, I never know M3 has hatchback, lol


LukaLuka_bmw は、鼻血があw




LukaLuka_bmw 顔とかは見たことありましたが、まさかのV8とはww これはキチガイっすw


Ericw2k It's a station...


The attention to detail on this is incredible. Saw this on THRLL too

77 that you i see?!!! :p


Zombiiiiii_ juancruzcpda .


zainbassage Now that's clean! I like the touches of orange.


MDenz18 his attention to detail is better than anything bmw could have done making an M wagon


Speedhunters_Bryn  Nothing major, it's kind of been an odd obsession of mine. Not the rarest / nicest car in the world but its the Hyundai Accent SR turbo concept, the ONLY car in the hyundai line that didnt recieve a 2.0 model.

Oliver J H Rose

Could this be the most complete and fantastic car ever 'created' ? I have to admit, I read this article and it just amazes me!


How did i miss this??? perfect family wagon/sleeper for the street prfect


Why didn't BMW ever make an M3 estate!? :'(


Volvo kicked it off in the early 90's with the 850R estate, Audi and Mercedes make some sheer bonkers family wagons, so why on earth did BMW not follow suit with the M3 AND M5? I would absolutely kill for an F12 M5 V8 in an estate variant. Hell, even an E46 M5 wagon would be brilliant!


I. LOVE. E91.

And wagons aren't cool, so more E91 for me!


turbom you missed it, probably because you go with crowds! I got one, everyone thought I was mad. They call her the "panty dropper'


KrisMoffatt 335i  not enough engine for you? What are you, Stirling Moss or something? 

The racing Moffats have one 't'...


European speed wagons are amazing in any form. This one is a unicorn. This guy truly created something amazing...!


Tuned estates are really cool in my eyes.
Audi RS4/RS6, VW Passat R36, Ford Mondeo ST220, Volvo T5, Ford Focus ST.... there's a whole host of cool estate cars, so why BMW hasn't M-Divisioned the 3-Series estate boggles my mind, especially considering they gave the treatment to the 5-series.

What Nick's done with this motor though... is unreal. Top job.
BMW, take note!


The new Audi RS4 Avant is pretty similar in body style