If you’re just discovering the magic of the E30 BMW M3, the one that started it all, you’re probably too late. More than a few of these have crossed into six-figure territory years ago, with the “average” price for a proper “standard” example sitting around $75,000 nowadays. Just writing these numbers makes me sad and what can we do when we’re in such a state? Find solace in art, of course. Well, we’re in luck today—Chris Labrooy just unofficially breathed some new life into the BMW art car with his E30 M3 renderings!
Back in 1975, when BMW’s Motorsport division was just a few years old and had not yet released its first road car—the mid-engined M1 of 1978—French racer and auctioneer Herve Poulain commissioned his friend, American artist Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car.
Many such projects would follow over the decades, with the list of top artists that have expressed themselves over the sporty lines of Bavarian road and race cars including David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol—you’ll find a 16-minute summary in the official BMW YouTube video at the bottom of the story.
With at least 20 cars in the BMW Art car garage, the official project, panel of international judges and all, continues in this digital era. Nevertheless, now that more people have what they need to express their creativity and wraps make it simpler to play with high-end cars on your own, it feels like this initiative could use some help to stay on the public’s radar.
With that in mind and as mentioned in the intro, Scottish artist Chris Labrooy’s 3D work on the E30 M3 is not an official BMW Art Car piece, nor has it landed on a real car, at least not yet—Porsche has built real-world versions of the artist’s 911 flamingo. In fact, the Neunelfer is part of Labrooy’s logo, which you can even see on his BMW. Oh, the controversy…
However, while original, the style in which Labrooy played with the lines of the 1980s homologation special that is the E30 M3 Coupe reminds us of the “golden era” machines done by some of the masters mentioned above.
For the record, there were two E30 M3s of the sort, colored by aboriginal Australian painter Michael Nelson Jagamarra and his countryman Ken Done.
Perforated metal and raw fiberglass make this E30 M3 unique
Nevertheless, Labrooy went one step further, virtually modifying the Bimmer and experimenting with various materials/textures. For starters, the DTM-inspired big arches of the actual car have made room for an unconventional widebody. We have what the artist labels as a “rear light slab”—once you lay eyes on this, you’ll never look at a light bar in the same way again, at least not until some carmaker puts something like this on an EV.
As far as materials go, the striking effect of the vast perforated metal surfaces is only matched by that of the raw fiberglass bits. And these lightweight pieces make full sense since BMW itself put the original M3 on a serious diet back in the day—this is why the S14 N/A four-cylinder’s 200 hp output was more than enough, at least for the era.
There’s also a sleek rear wing, which, together with the said widebody, gives the E30 M3 a timeless look. Of course, some of you may argue the car had this all along, but I dare you to find a more accomplished take on these boxy 80s styling cues.
PS: Head over to the comments section of Labrooy’s Instagram post below and you’ll find Khyzyl Saleem (aka The Kyza), a digital artist who used the E30 M3 as inspiration for his Live To Offend (LTO) E30 3-Series widebody.