2002 M coupe: BMW of North America
E36/8 (2001-2002) #LK60022
3,246cc S54 inline six-cylinder
Laguna Seca Blue
BMW of North America
Woodcliff Lake, NJ (since 2001)
In September 1997, BMW unveiled a totally unexpected car at the Frankfurt auto show. With a fixed roof atop a Z3 body, the M coupe looked decidedly odd. Developed by Dr. Burkhard Göschel’s Special Vehicles team without any direction from the BMW board of management, the M coupe aimed to address the Z3’s principle shortcoming: its lack of chassis rigidity. It succeeded wildly, providing 2.6 times the stiffness of the roadster body, and allowing the Z3 to exploit the full potential of the M division’s six-cylinder engines. Despite opposition within BMW, the M coupe made it into production, on the condition that it share as many parts as possible with the roadster. Only the roof, tailgate, and rear cargo area are unique to the coupe, and it weighs just 55 pounds more than the roadster. To further constrain costs, few options were available. “These cars were made for driving, with no navigation systems or such stuff!” said Dr. Göschel.
Indeed they are, especially with the 315-horsepower S54 engine fitted to the car you see here. An early example built in March 2001 and the only M coupe painted Laguna Seca Blue, it served as the reference car for the M engineering team. It combines US and EU specifications, hence the headlight washers that weren’t available on US-spec cars. All told, BMW Manufacturing built 15,322 examples of the M roadster, of which 10,503 were sold in the US.