The M3baru Is an All-Wheel Drive M-Swapped BMW E46 Wagon That Thinks It’s a Subaru
It's a manual-shift BMW wagon, made to be fast, made to be off-roady, and still manages to look halfway classy. What's not to love?
I plucked this blog’s headline straight out of the YouTube channel capturingthemachine‘s caption for its latest video, because it’s perfect. And so is this car. Check out this surprisingly cinematic 12-minute clip documenting an M3-powered all-wheel drive BMW wagon’s construction and Oregon adventure!
This channel belongs to Kevin McCauley, an automotive photographer and enthusiast based in Texas. His IG is excellent if you like looking at pictures of cars (I even have a print of this shot in my office) and he’s been messing with YouTube a bit more recently with some cool instructables on car photography.
This video is more of a story format, though. It shares a bit about how this car came into existence, and largely serves as an excuse to share breathtaking shots of a cleanly customized German wagon ripping across ragged country. It’s a manual-shift BMW wagon, made to be fast, made to be off-roady, and still manages to look halfway classy. What’s not to love?
“The main reason why I didn’t buy a Subaru,” owner Daniel Sloan tells the camera “is, I love classic BMWs, and I love the S54.” Must be a lot of love to have put in this much work!
The “M3baru” is custom on quite a few levels. We never got a performance-spec E46 Wagon, so just swapping in an M3 powerplant to one of these is a very cool project on its own. Developing the vehicle to still support all-wheel drive and run a robust suspension system is downright incredible. And really, it’s a mashup of more than just two BMW models, as you’ll see in the video and spec sheet. I mean dang, I would have just slapped on those steelies and Hella rally lights and sent it. This build is extremely creative and… extreme, but it’s remarkably reserved and simple in its appearance. This whole video’s shot with a similarly simple-yet-huge feel to it and I’m not just sharing it because McCauley and I are buds — this is one of my favorite car edits of 2021 so far for sure.
If you want to see more of this car, Sloan (the owner) can be found on Instagram @dslovn.drives. Here’s the rundown on this 2001 BMW 325xi Touring’s new specs for you to ponder while the video plays:
- Orient Blue Metallic paint
- 3.2L S54 engine (from a 2004 M3)
- aFe Cold Air Intake
- Custom high-flow exhaust
- Custom Tune
- E46 330xi six-speed manual transmission
- Z4M clutch & flywheel
- 3.91 Wavetrac limited-slip differential
- 3.91 X3 front differential
- 325xi brakes with steel-braided lines
- KW V1 Coilovers set to the tallest ride height
- Strut tower and subframe reinforcements
- Droop limiters removed for increased travel
- Ground Control camber plates
- 17×7 BMW Style 12 steel wheels
- 225/50R17 98Y Vredestein Quatrac 5 tires (snow-rated UHP all-season)
- E46 M3 manual-adjustment seats
- E46 M3 steering wheel
- E46 M3 gauge cluster
- Otherwise-stock black E46 interior swapped from a donor E46 Touring
- OE Euro tail lights and front corner lights
- E46 M3 front bumper with splitter
- HARD Motorsport E46 M3 fender flares (to fit M3 diameter tires)
- Custom skidplate
- Deleted roof rails
- Rally Armor urethane mud flaps
- Hella 500 fog lights
This is really inspiring me to make my next car look clean and subtle… nah, who am I kidding, I’m probably going to put pink zebra stripes on my Z in a few paychecks. But I admire the dedication (and aesthetic restraint) of people like Sloan.