The Big Car Database

Bmw M Division M Coupe 1998- 2002

The BMW M Coupe is a shooting-brake styled high-performance automobile produced by BMW.

Only two generations of the M Coupe have been manufactured, the original E36/8 Z3 Coupe and the second generation E86 Z4 Coupe.

E36/8 M Coupe
Manufacturer BMW
Also called M Coupe, Z3M Coupe
Production 1998–2002
Assembly BMW Manufacturing Co.
Greer, South Carolina, United States
Designer Joji Nagashima Burkhard Göschel
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style 3-door shooting-brake
Layout FR layout
Platform E36/8
Related BMW Z3
Engine 3.2 L inline-6
S50 (1998–2000 non-US/CA)
S52 (1998–2000 US/CA)
S54 (2001–2002 world)
Transmission 5 speed manual
Wheelbase 2,459 mm (96.8 in)
Length 4,025 mm (158.5 in)
Width 1,740 mm (68.5 in)
Height 51.4 in (1,306 mm)
Curb weight 1,420 kg (3,130.6 lb)
Successor Z4 M Coupe

E36/8 M Coupe

The M Coupe, manufactured from 1998 until 2002, was developed under the leadership of engineer Burkhard Göschel with the intention of adding increased torsional and structural rigidity to the Z3 roadster’s chassis. The development team had a hard time convincing the Board of Directors to approve the model for production, but it was eventually given the green light as long as it remained cost-effective to produce. To achieve this goal, as many body panels as possible had to be shared with the roadster, thus the doors and everything from the A-pillar forward are interchangeable between the coupe and roadster, as are most interior parts. The Z3 coupe, which mates the M coupe's body with the standard Z3 drivetrain, chassis and cosmetics was approved for production at the same time.

The car is based on the BMW M Roadster. Although, the semi-trailing arm rear suspension was not modified from the M Roadster, the coupe is 2.7 times torsionally stiffer than its convertible counterpart. The most important aspect of the E36/8 M Coupe was the difference in engines, the BMW S50, BMW S52, and the BMW S54, were all offered in different markets at different times. Due to the unique styling of the M Coupe, dealer sales were slow, and dealerships sidestepped the M Coupe to sell the more practical and more profitable M3 models to performance enthusiasts.

As a result of their relative rarity, M Coupes (especially S54 powered models) retain more of their value than any other BMW since the E30 M3. The S54 M Coupe is the lowest production BMW that was not produced in a "limited production" run. Certain colour combinations are highly desired leading to lower mileage models commanding prices over 65% higher than the original MSRP.

S50 and S52 (1998–2000)

From 1998 through 2000 the M Coupe was powered by two different engines. In North America the cars were fitted with the BMW S52B32, as found in the US-spec E36 M3. The S52 produces 243 PS (180 kW; 240 hp) at 6000rpm and 236 lb·ft (320 N·m) at 3800rpm. The rest of the world received the more powerful BMW S50B32 from the Euro-spec E36 M3, this engine produces 321 PS (236 kW; 317 hp) at 7400rpm and 258 lb·ft (350 N·m) at 3250rpm.

  • European left hand drive S50 engine: 2178 cars built from April 1998 through June 2000
  • European right hand drive S50 engine: 821 cars built from August 1998 through June 2000
  • Total S50 Production: 2999
  • North America left hand drive S52 engine: 2180 cars built from July 1998 through June 2000
  • Total S52 Production: 2180

S54 (2001–2002)

In October 2001, the M Coupe reappeared worldwide with the new 3.2-litre S54B32 engine from the E46 M3. In the M Coupe it produces 325 PS (239 kW; 321 hp) at 7400 rpm and 258 lb·ft (350 N·m) at 4900rpm in European specification and 319 PS (235 kW; 315 hp) at 7400 rpm and 251 lb·ft (340 N·m) in North American specification. The difference in peak power and torque is due to the catalytic converters being located closer to the engine on the NA spec cars, which allows the catalysts to heat up faster and reduce cold start emissions. It has been observed that the NA-spec catalytic converters may have been fitted to cars in some European countries.

In South Africa only 39 right hand drive S54 models were imported and all were equipped by BMW SA with AC Schnitzer suspension, exhaust, short shift kit and 18-inch "Type 3" wheels.

  • European left hand drive S54 engine: 269 cars built from February 2001 through May 2002
  • European right hand drive S54 engine: 165 cars built from February 2001 through May 2002
  • North America S54 engine: 678 cars built from February 2001 through May 2002
  • Total S54 Production: 1112


  • Automobile Magazine "Design of the Year" 1999.
  • The M Coupe/M Roadster made Car and Driver magazine's "Ten Best" list for 1999.
  • European Car Magazine Grand Prix winner in 1999.
  • The Top Gear (TV Show) "Best Driver's Car of the Year" 2000.
  • The BMW M Coupe was chosen as one of "Hammond's Icons" by Top Gear in 2011.
  • Jalopnik's included the M Coupe in their "Best 10 Cars of the Decade" feature.
  • Top Gear (Magazine) featured the M Coupe as one of "the 149 Coolest Cars Ever" in a supplement included with the October 2015 issue (#274).
  • Autoblog included the M Coupe in their "Greatest BMWs of the last 100 years" feature.
  • The New York Daily News featured the M Coupe in their "Best Bimmers: our 10 favorite BMW models of the last 100 years" article.
  • Top Gear (Website) included the BMW M Coupe in their "Some of the Greatest BMWs ever built" article, showcasing 25 cars, in celebration of BMW's centenary.
  • The M Coupe appeared on the list of Autoevolution's "Ten of the Most Outstanding BMW M Cars of All Time". 
  • Mike Spinelli, founder of Jalopnik and host of AFTER/DRIVE, selected the BMW M Coupe on /Drive's "What's The Best BMW Of All Time?" feature. 
  • Road & Track included the M Coupe as 1 of just 13 BMWs in their "Best BMWs in History" feature for the company's 100 year anniversary. 

Colours & Options

The M Coupe was produced with a choice of many different exterior and interior colours, but optional extras offered by BMW were limited. In most instances, a standard configuration was offered for each specific market.

Exterior Colours with North American Production Figures

Evergreen and Cosmos Black were only offered with the S50/S52 and Dakar Yellow II is exceptionally rare on the S54, with only one USA car produced in that colour, being that it was an individual order. Colours only offered on the S54 include Laguna Seca Blue, Phoenix Yellow and Sapphire Black.

  • Titanium Silver: 544
  • Cosmos Black: 516
  • Estoril Blue: 472
  • Imola Red: 422
  • Arctic Silver: 276
  • Steel Gray: 121
  • Black Sapphire: 120
  • Alpine White: 103
  • Boston Green: 73
  • Dakar Yellow II: 51
  • Oxford Green II: 46
  • Evergreen: 41
  • Laguna Seca Blue: 41
  • Phoenix Yellow: 21
  • Special (Sonderlackierung): 10
  • Hellrot Red: 1

Interior Colours with North American Production Figures

The M Coupe 2-tone sport seats and interior colours were also offered. Only S50/S52 models received the Kyalami Orange and Evergreen interiors. While only S54 models were offered with the rarest interior colours, Laguna Seca Blue.

  • Black Nappa: 1273
  • Dark Gray & Black Nappa: 450
  • Estoril Blue & Black Nappa: 365
  • Imola Red & Black Nappa: 361
  • Dark Beige Oregon: 314
  • Kyalami Orange & Black Nappa: 36
  • Evergreen & Black Nappa 32
  • Laguna Seca Blue & Black Nappa: 24
  • Kiwi Nappa: 2
  • Special (Sonderpolsterung): 1


The BMW M Coupe is often referred to by a number of nicknames, these include "the Clown Shoe", "the Turnschuh" (running shoe in German) and "the Breadvan".