2000 M coupe: BMW Classic
E36/8 (1998-2003) #16-3/67-S
Euro-spec 3,209cc S50 inline six-cylinder
Titanium Silver metallic
Munich, Germany (since 2000)
To underscore the potential of the Z3 M coupe, Sport Auto magazine editor and Nürburgring specialist Horst von Saurma drove one around the Nordschleife in eight minutes, 22 seconds—identical to his lap time in an E46 M3, and faster than the times he’d post in the Porsche Boxster S and Cayman S six years later.
Lap times are one thing, racing’s another. To verify the M coupe’s mettle in wheel-to-wheel competition, Sport Auto commissioned an M coupe race car for the 2000 Nürburgring 24 Hours. BMW Technik developed the car you see here, which was assembled by the Special Vehicles team led by Dr. Burkhard Göschel, the “father” of the M coupe. A standard M coupe was transformed with the requisite roll cage, deep front splitter, large rear wing, AP Racing brakes, and oversized BBS racing wheels/Michelin racing tires. Behind the wheel, von Saurma was teamed with BMW factory driver Roberto Ravaglia, AC Schnitzer’s Manfred Wöllgarten, and BMW PR spokesman Peter Müller.
The car was running third overall halfway through the race, but then a minor collision sent it into the pits for a 35-minute repair. Later, a suspected engine fault forced it to pit once again. The M coupe rejoined the race in 57th place, but the team improved to 25th out of 220 cars by the end of the 24 Hours.
“It was good fun,” says Dr. Göschel, “but there was no further competition with it.”
Well, not quite. A few years later, Dr. Göschel drove the car up Lord March’s driveway at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, in between his obligations as BMW board member for Research & Development. Along with the Z3 M coupe, Göschel was responsible for cars like the Z8, X5, E46 M3 CSL, and many others.