Nathan Williams posted this shot of a BMW 3.0Si wagon he found at a wrecking yard/storage lot in Swansea, assuming it was homemade. It’s easy to see why anyone would assume that, as it does look a bit cobbled together. But it turns out this was one of some 10-12 built by Thomas Ditton and sold officially through BMW GB dealers, for a hefty price.
If it looks a bit amateurish, don’t blame Thomas Ditton, as they only replicated what the factory had built first.
Here’s the ones the that were built by BMW to use as support vehicles to the rally campaign of the works 2002 Tis. These left hand drive versions were never made available to the public.
Estate cars back then had a much higher image in the UK than in Germany, where they were still seen as mostly utilitarian vehicles for plumbers and such. But not so in GB, where even the name conveyed the image of hunting and thoroughbreds. So BMW GB took it upon themselves to have some of these built.
I can’t seem to find just how much more these cost than the E3 saloon, which was already a very expensive car in GB at the time. We’re talking about very exclusive.
But it’s not really all that compelling to me, as it really does look a bit amateurish. The ledge in the middle of the tailgate is not working very well for me.
It suffers from the same problems that almost invariably plague station wagons converted from sedans: the sloping roofs of sedans necessitates too much of a slope in the rear. It’s just not the way you would design a wagon from scratch. It looks like its melting back there.
Mercedes showed how it was done with their first production wagon in 1977, when they introduced their T series of wagons (W123). And of course it instantly became the most desirable estate car in GB, as well as just about everywhere else.
It’s a bit unfortunate, as I have had a huge thing for the E3 ever since I first laid eyes on it. And I’m a big fan of wagons. But I’ll pass on this. A bit to homemade for me.