The Z3 M Coupe, or BMW ‘Breadvan’ as many refer to it. Here was a BMW that sent a high voltage shock through the normally slick but slightly conservative BMW range of the time. The lead engineer for the M Coupe, Burkhard Goschel, must have been very influential and smooth of speech to gain approval from the BMW Board of Directors. After all, the ingredients were unorthodox to say the least. Take the Z3 roadster, turn it into a fixed head coupe with a hatchback, drop in an E36 M3 engine and make sure it was a cost effective to produce. No easy task for BMW Motorsport division at the time. The resulting production car, internally designated as E36/8 M Coupe, was a weird and wonderful creature that polarised opinion but was universally and unmistakably cool. For the experienced, it was a great car to drive as well, boasting a massive increase in torsional stiffness over the Z3 roadster and becoming a cult car within its own lifetime.
First unveiled at the 1997 Frankfurt motor show, M Coupe production started in 1998. All M Coupes were fitted with the straight-six developed by BMW M for the E36 M3, in either US spec S52B52 or European spec S50B32, depending on where the car was destined. In 2001, the M Coupe received the S54B32 3.2-litre engine from the newly introduced and heavily lauded E46 M3 in all regions. This engine transformed the car, especially for the US market which had the much lower rated S52 engine over its more powerful S50 European counterparts.
The S54 engine demonstrated BMW’s absolute mastery when it comes to the six cylinder engine. It possessed a truly amazing soundscape with a gorgeous metallic timbre that increased in intensity with every increasing revolution, culminating in a thrilling and equally chilling top end. The headline figures were 325bp at 7400rpm and 258 lb/ft of torque at 4900rpm. These were only small increases from the earlier Euro S50B32, but the torque peak was reached some 1650 rpm lower and this coupled with a drive by wire throttle, made for far greater rapidity and a smoother drive.
The 2001 M Coupe also bought about a raft of changes to keep up with the ever changing automotive landscape, including the very welcome addition of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Low tire pressure monitoring system and some minor changes to the interior including revised gauges with gray backgrounds and revised graphics, a reshaped rear view mirror with chrome surround and auto-dimming function. The exterior was topped off with curved exterior M badges and Chrome Shadow finish for the RoadStar alloy wheels.
Every Z3 M Coupe was constructed in BMWs Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. The drivetrain was constructed in Germany and then transported to Spartanburg where it was completed.
There were only 165 RHD S54 M Coupes produced within a short production cycle from 02/2001 to 05/2002, making this a very rare model.
RHD, UK Car, Estoril Blue (Estoril Blau Metallic 335), Estoril Blue/Black Nappa Leather (Leder walk nappa/EstorilBlau Q6ES), Dynamic stability control (S210A), Differential lock 25% (S209A), Glass roof, electrical (S403A), Air conditioning (S530A), Cruise control (S540A), Radio BMW Business RDS (S669A), CD changer for 6 CDs (S672A), Hi-Fi System Harman Kardon (S674A), M sports steering wheel multifunction (S710A), Seat heating driver/passenger (S494A), Door mirror / driver’s lock, heated, (S314A), Smoker package (S441A), Airbag for front passenger (S243A), Alarm system (S302A), Trunk room net (S413A), Floor mats, velours (S423A), Warning triangle and first aid kit (S428A).
Estoril Blue (Estoril Blau Metallic 335) is exclusive to BMW Motorsport cars and the Z3 M Coupe is one of the more dramatic shapes to take this iconic paint colour. The curvaceous body is highlighted beautifully and full of muscular intent. The paintwork remains in extremely good order with areas such as the wing mirrors and flared arches presenting in excellent condition.
All of the black window surrounds and chrome details are in fantastic condition and retain a clean, deep texture. A stunning example that presents as one of the best.
An exciting exterior needs an exciting interior to match and the colour scheme of the M Coupe does not disappoint. Finished in Two Tone Estoril Blue and Black Nappa upholstery, this internal shade is much deeper than the exterior. The two-tone leather sports seats are in excellent condition and remain free from any sagging or damage, still feeling firm and supportive.
The smart black and blue two-tone combination partners the paintwork and is carried through to the door cards and centre console, all of which are in fine order with no scuffs or marks. The chrome additions to dials, gear gaiter, dash rings and light pull switch provide a stylish lift to a beautifully finished cabin with all switch gear feeling solid to operate and showing minimal wear.
The carpets are perfectly clean throughout, protected in the foot-wells with a set of black over-mats showing no signs of wear. All of the tools and spare wheel are still present, situated under the boot carpet which remains spotlessly clean.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The S54B32 is full of vim and excitement in the Z3 M Coupe. With a fabulous engine note this example feels very potent and pulls through its gears with great vigour.
The ZF Type C 5-speed manual gearbox feels tight and precise, shifting through the gate with ease and a perfect compliment to the long ratio 5 speed ‘box and the handling characteristics of this potent sports GT. The engine in this car presents very well with some intricate details on show, rather than hidden under a plastic shroud as most modern engines are.
WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES
This M Coupe sits on the correctly finished 17″ Starfish wheels with the deep rear dish on the rear providing that typically broad, aggressive stance. Recently installed Premium Avon ZV7 provide the definitive contact patch to rear wheels with excellent tread on the front matching set.
The brakes feel strong and confident bringing the car to a standstill quickly and smoothly.
This Z3 M Coupe was taken in as a part exchange against a BMW M2. It has a production date of March 2001 and coded L812A, National version Great Britain. This iconic Motorsport BMW has had just 4 former keepers and was first registered 01/06/2001. The current custodian having owned the car since 06/08/2004.
Once it was in our hands, we commissioned a very comprehensive renovation to bring the car up to show standards, headed up by our service tech, a former BMW Master Technician with 30 years plus of main dealer experience.
Mechanical work included a complete removal of the engine to address an oil leak, while out the engine was cleaned, all gaskets and seals were replaced along with the water pump and the clutch changed. It got a complete service with spark plugs, engine oil, coolant and brake fluid change along with the relevant filters.
Now, on the button and ready to enjoy, this rare S54 M Coupe sits in superb 1st class condition.
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