The readers of this blog will be divided into three distinct categories: those who’ve not the slightest idea what I’m talking about, those who know M3 exactly what I’m talking about but can’t imagine for a moment why I might want to, and, I hope, just a few who will understand and share the same need as me to get out more often.

The subject is simply this: BMW has run out of E numbers. Every BMW road car for more than 40 years has been referred to internally by a codename comprising the letter E followed by a one or two digit number. Among fans, these numbers have the same resonance and importance as ‘993’ and ‘997’ have among Porsche cognoscenti.

Why do they matter? Well, without E numbers, conversation among propeller-heads would be impossibly stilted, with them they have a language of their own, where the type and generation of any BMW from any time in the last four decades can be identified at once by one simple code.