Can a massive V8 save the BMW 3 Series Compact?
Back in 1999, German tuner Hartge did unspeakable things to this little BMW
It’d be fair to say that the BMW E36 and E46 3 Series Compacts split opinion. They’re Marmite cars – some love them, others love to hate them. Can one with a massive V8 shoved up front however, win over those of you who think the Compact should be shot into the dark recesses of space?
Step forward, Hartge's Compact V8 4.7. Yep, a 4.7-litre V8 in an almost comically-short-wheelbased car. That’s a recipe for... intrigue.
The work was carried out in 1999 by the now extinct German tuners Hartge. The Merzig then Beckingen-based company was famed for transplanting the engines from bigger BMWs into smaller models, although this is believed to be one of only two V8-engined Compacts built.
This wasn’t just a simple engine swap either, as the V8 started life as a 4.4-litre M62B44 – used in both the 540i and 740i of the day – but Hartge bored it out to 4.7-litres and upped power to something around the 335bhp mark.
Not content with that, it also fitted the six-speed manual gearbox from the M3, Bilstein adjustable suspension, a new rear axle, a wide-arch body kit and those rather lovely 90s alloys.
The interior is something to behold too. The E36’s plastic wood remains, but there’s also a Recaro drivers’ seat and an impossibly cool gear knob – and it’s not often we say that.
And now for the best news, because the little 4.7 will cross the block at the RM Sotheby’s Essen sale (which has just been postponed until June 2020). With less than 24,000 miles on the clock and single ownership until 2019, how much do you reckon this could fetch?
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