2002 M roadster: BMW of North America
2002 BMW E36/7 M roadster #LJ82640
3,246cc S54 inline six-cylinder
Imola Red II
BMW of North America
Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey (since 2002)
After leading the development of the Z3 roadster, Dr. Burkhard Göschel was put in charge of BMW’s Special Vehicles Department. The first Special Vehicle he’d develop was the car you see here, the M roadster that debuted in March 1997. Powered by the same engine as the E36 M3, the car was borderline ludicrous. The 321-horsepower S50 engine wound up the Z3’s flexible chassis like a spring, despite additional stiffening measures and lower, sportier suspension. That made the M roadster ridiculously fun to drive, even with the 240-horsepower S52 engine offered in US-spec cars. It looked really cool, too, with four exhaust pipes, bigger wheels, and aero improvements designed by BMW M along with the two-tone interior.
For 2001, the M roadster was updated in all markets—including the US—with the sophisticated new S54 engine. A technical masterpiece, the S54 featured 11.5:1 compression, Double VANOS variable valve timing, low-mass rocker arms, MSS 54 engine management, and a scavenging oil pump to ensure proper lubrication in high-speed cornering. It delivered 325 horsepower, 315 in US spec, making the 2001-2002 M roadster one of BMW’s most exciting cars of the 21st century.
The car you see here, #LJ82640, was built in February 2002—the last M roadster to leave the assembly line at BMW Manufacturing.