The fake BMW M3 Touring was found to be made from parts from at least four different cars and held together with substandard welding which police said left the vehicle structurally unsound.
BMW has never sold an estate version of the high-performance M3 and the bright green car was bodged together from various other models, including the engine stolen from a legitimate M3 as well as body panels and a panoramic roof from two different estate cars.
Police said that whoever built the car had gone to great lengths to try to hide the car’s origins, including grinding off identification numbers. However, West Midlands officers were able to trace components back to one M3 stolen from a dealership in Wolverhampton in 2019 and another stolen from Sutton Coldfield in 2018.
PC Mark Wheaver from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) said: “This should act as a striking reminder that cars may not be what they seem. You might think you’re buying a bargain but it could be a death trap that costs your life as well as thousands of pounds.
“This BMW looked great on the outside, you can’t fault the paint job, but scratch beneath the veneer and it was just tag welded and structurally unsafe. A coat of paint won’t save your life in a collision.
“Our Central Motorway Police Group is training increasing numbers of officers to examine cars we stop to identify if they are cloned or feature stolen parts. They are patrolling the region, stopping and checking any modified vehicles for insurance and stolen parts, and any we find will face the same fate as this M3 show car.”
The car was seized in November 2020 when officers’ attention was initially drawn to the car by its illegally spaced number plate. When they ran a vehicle check on the registration, it came back as a 2.0-litre diesel 3 Series, despite the quad exhausts, body kit and M3 badging.
When it was pulled over, a check confirmed the car did feature an M3’s straight-six petrol engine, arousing officers’ suspicions, who called in the force’s stolen vehicle specialists.
Specialist vehicle examiner Boyd Howells said the force had seized “countless” cars from people who thought they’d bagged a bargain – but in reality had paid criminals for illegal vehicles made using stolen parts.
He said: “These buyers don’t get their money back. We seize the vehicle as it’s illegal and unsafe – and I’m pretty sure criminal gangs selling such vehicles don’t offer compensation.
“That’s why it’s really important car buyers are switched on to the signs a car could be dodgy.
“One of the most important messages to still remember is ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’. Ask yourself why is such a good looking car such an attractive price?”
Police said there was no evidence to suggest the car’s owner was involved in the car thefts.