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S54 M Coupe vs C6 Corvette

Taka recently purchased (stole) this beautiful black sapphire metallic 2001 M Coupe and is fortunate to also own a 2005 Corvette in millenium yellow. In his words, here’s how they compare:

The Corvette is a lot of fun to drive, but in a very different way. I think the car is more suited to use at a road course, especially if it’s not too tight, so you can really stretch the car’s legs and use that V-8 for what it’s worth. It’s definitely a lot faster than the M- having another 85 hp and only 200 lbs. would do that. My car has long tube headers, exhaust and will eventually have an intake and a tune, so I’d say it probably has a tad more than 400hp- I could feel the difference in power output even with the stock tune when I added the headers. I also never had traction issues with the stock manifolds (esp. with 305 Bridgestone RE-11), but I do now that I have the headers installed.

 

Buyer's Checklist

While most of us are searching for the perfect color combination, there are many other things to look for in an M Coupe. To start, look for a complete set of maintenance records, so you can judge the car’s service history and verify its mileage. A Pre-Purchase Inspection by a mechanic knowledgeable of these cars is also a must regardless of the coupe’s apparent condition and mileage. Any inspection should include the usual checks for engine compression, cosmetic flaws, body and chassis corrosion, accident damage, malfunctioning accessories, etc. There are many things specific to the M Coupe that should be checked as well. The list below encompasses most of the common issues you should be aware of and have checked out when looking to purchase an M Coupe.

 

Pre-Production S54 M Coupes

Last week, I came across a 2001 Estoril Blue M Coupe in Richmond Hill, ON, Canada that besides its great condition and very low mileage did not appear otherwise significant. The seller makes mention that this particular car is one of twelve pre-production S54 coupes. I had never heard of such a thing and decided to see what I could find out.

 

My Successful M Coupe Search – 1:18 Scale

1:18 UT BMW M Coupe in SilverFor quite a few years before a full scale M Coupe was a financial possibility, I searched high and low for a 1:18 scale model to complement my model collection. Being the picky buyer I am, the normal cosmos black store sold UT model didn’t cut it for me. I wanted the silver model. For a while, I wasn’t sure this model even existed. My only evidence was a single photo posted on Car Domain, but that was enough to keep me going. I eventually found out that it did exist but could only be purchased through dealers and there obviously were not very many of them.

 

Year Makes All the Difference

In the four short years of BMW M Coupe production, there were essentially 3 different versions produced (6 if you count right hand drive and differentiate the European S54).  The first and most common is the North American S52-engined car.  Produced in 1999 and 2000, these cars produce 240hp and 236 lb/ft of torque.  This is the same engine as found in North American versions of the 1996-1999 E36 M3.   Europeans – as they did with their version of the E36 M3 – were offered the 321hp, 258 lb/ft S50 engine.  For 2001 and 2002, both North America and Europe received the 315hp S54 engine from the 2001-2006 E46 M3.

 

Where to Look

I’ve spent quite a few years compiling a list of sites that would hopefully cover nearly all currently listed M Coupes for sale.  Here it is in the order I see most potential.

 

Don't Call Me a Z3 M Coupe

With the arrival of the Z4 M Coupe in 2006, many people and even some auto publications have relabeled the 1999-2002 M Coupe the Z3 M Coupe.  This is not technically correct.  While based on the Z3, the name from BMW was simply “M Coupe”.  Before the M Coupe and Roadster arrived, BMW M models of the time were named according to their series.  BMW probably could have named it the MZ or MZ3, but they chose to name it simply "M".

 

Video Reviews

I've been working to collect most of the video reviews of the M Coupe. They seem to be added and dropped from video services frequently, so let me know if you find any new ones or if any of the links are broken.

 

Do I Want a Sunroof?

The BMW M Coupe may be one of the few cars where you may not want a sunroof.  Sunroofs came standard on the M Coupe with the option being a “sunroof-delete”.  Very few dealers ordering for their lots wanted to de-content their cars, so very few have this rare “option”.  It’s been reported that only 16% of coupes are sunroof-deletes (452 of 2858 to be exact).

 

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Jon Martin
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