Two of a kind. These M Coupés #E36/7
-series retain their fundamental values; quirky, impractical and nonconformist, but now they’re an even rarer beast, improved in every sense with the drama of forced induction. Whatever you think of the styling, the #Z3-M-Coupe
has developed something of a cult following, and here stand two examples; both force induced and both equally as gorgeous, but which one would you have? Words: Louise Woodhams. Photos: Darren Maybury.
Developed under the leadership of engineer Burkhard Göschel with the intention of adding increased structural rigidity to the #Z3
Roadster’s chassis, the M Coupé 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, as were most interior parts. The result was a stubby two-seater, something of a nonconformist BMW. Its distinctive, controversial looks divided opinion, but it was frighteningly fast and, as promised, delivered a more rewarding and tauter chassis than its sibling. It had two power plants as well. From 1998 to 2000 it used the venerable 3.2-litre in-line six #S52
from the #E36
M3, which for owners in the States equated to 240bhp and 236lb ft of torque. In case you were wondering, the small loss in power compared to European-spec cars is attributed to the more restrictive placement of the catalysts in order to improve cold-start emissions. Having been discontinued for more than six months, a revised model then entered production in February #2001
utilising the awesome S54, an evolution of the iron block S50 and fitted to the #E46
M3. Although peak power and torque barely increased, with the Yanks benefiting from an additional 75bhp and 25lb ft of torque, the two engines share few major components. Interestingly though, both models made the 0-62 mph dash in 5.5 seconds and aside from a change in the final drive ratio (from 3.23 to 3.15) and the introduction of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), very little changed.
So, here before me today stand two M Coupés; one packs the S52 engine, the other the #S54
, but aside from that both hail from the East Coast, both are force induced and both are eye-wateringly stunning. I think it’s about time we introduced the owners responsible for building them; tall, lanky, long-haired and clean shaven Carl Pardue holds the keys to the 2000 Cosmos black turbo’d lovely, which leaves the #2002 #Alpine
white ’charged beauty, one of only 690 built in the USA, with Clint Gauvin, who’s short, stocky, short-haired and scruffy!
Whilst both picked up basic mechanical skills from their father, Carl’s old man specialised in classic muscle car restoration so as soon as he could stand he became his second in command, bestowing him with knowledge and skills that became invaluable when he started wrenching on his own motors. Coupled with the fact his second car was an #E28 #528e
, he soon started to realise the value of driving BMWs and, perhaps more importantly, what the tuning scene could offer. “I always loved BMWs but with my first one I began to realise how much the manufacturer develops its cars around the driver. It’s also nice to see design cues of the older models still being produced and I like how the smallest modification can complement any model so well. Not to mention the enthusiast value, and aftermarket support of the tuning scene is astonishing,” explained the commercial photographer. So impressed, it seems, Carl then went onto owning a #1999
M Coupé and a #1989 #325i
before taking delivery of the car you see now.
Clint, however, despite previously owning a #1993
325i, first discovered his love of motoring in the Wolfsburg stable, having owned two Golf GTIs and a Touareg before falling in love with, and consequently securing, the car you see now. “The M Coupé is phenomenal from the factory, despite being a parts car crossing three generations and four models of #BMW
it works very well together. BMW said it best, ‘it’s a lot like nothing else’, so what better car to make, well, a little better. I wanted something that turned heads not because it’s obnoxiously loud, ridiculously low or plastered in stickers, but because it’s something you won’t see everyday,” explained the office worker. Carl nods his head in agreement and adds; “It was my dream car, and ever since they were first introduced I wanted one.” Indeed the first time I laid eyes on one, it stopped me dead. A Porsche may be cleaner, and a Ferrari sexier, but no car looked as muscular and purposeful as the M Coupé. And for those that think it looks like it’s been modelled on an old-fashioned running shoe, well, you’re clearly blind.
So when it came to the exterior styling, both followed a similar remit; they wanted to retain the car’s original lines, yet play on its intimidating nature and add a degree of exclusivity. As a result, huge gold wheels shod in monstrous low-profile tyres sprout from both flanks of each car, Carl opting for 18” CCW Classics whilst Clint was persuaded by the 19” HRE C20s, both boasting 10” wide rears. Similarly, in harmony with the paint schemes, the former has had its side vents and kidney grille colour-coded; the windows tinted and smoked rear lights popped in, whilst the latter benefited from Hyper white angel eyes, clear front marker lights and white and grey BMW and ///M badges. Some smoothing has also occurred, and both front ends have gained splitters to accentuate that gorgeous long bonnet and give the cars a more menacing appearance.
When it came to the interior, Carl told me, “I wanted it to be aggressive yet comfortable and most of all functional. I wanted to hang on to what BMW had done but improve the overall quality.” Inside you’ll find pedals and a handbrake from M-Tech alongside a TC Design knob and Momo wheel, whilst a dashmounted Subaru 2.5 RS pod houses a host of Defi gauges to keep check of what’s going on under the bonnet. BRIDE Zeta buckets, a familiar sight on the Japanese racing scene, were chosen as they’re designed to fit in very tight cockpits, and provide support and good visibility for everyday use. Clint too wanted to accent the cabin but not go overboard, and to an extent shares the same mods as Carl, including a head unit with navigation and iPod integrated, a #Z8
starter button, gauge pod and upgraded pedals, but instead opted to go with AEM and UUC respectively. The black leather swathed cabin is broken up with white trim that adorns the wheel and doorcards, and the Alcantara boots are picked out with M tri-colour stitching. The early M Coupé’s standard of fit and finish was always accused of falling short of what you’d come to expect from BMW, but it’s fair to say it’s not the case with these two cars.
With the rear suspension dating right back to the first generation M3, compared to modern standards the ride is fidgety to say the least, and whilst the lively road holding adds to the exuberant character of the M Coupé, not surprisingly both boys thought the primitive suspension was well due an overhaul. The biggest changes can be seen in Clint’s car. With a TC Kline Racing True Match coilover system, Racing Dynamics adjustable anti-roll bars, StrongStrut front brace and the phenomenal Racelogic Traction Control System, combined, the modifications have given him new levels of confidence in pushing the car to its limits without ever having to worry about overstepping the mark. Meanwhile, Carl has found that Bilstein Sport shocks matched to H&R springs, and a front and rear strut brace from Mason Engineering and StrongStrut respectively, are more than comfortable and forgiving when it comes to playtime.
Start up both engines, and the cars take on a different attitude altogether, begging you to thrash the hell out of them. If you thought the M Coupé went like the clappers in standard guise, try adding force induction into the equation... Basically, think TVR that’s been to finishing school. At first Carl was keen to pursue the NA route but by his own admission there’s nothing like boost, and despite his first taste of force induction leaving a rather sour taste in his mouth, he put it down to trial and error and battled on through. “After I fitted the AA C30 supercharger, I was left stranded in Atlanta, six hours from home… that kit caused me headache after headache, it constantly overheated. I wasn’t impressed with the power it made either and because they’re maxed straight out of the box, there’s no opportunity for further tuning.”
With an initial goal of 500whp and reliability now a top priority, Carl went about uprating the internals of the engine before progressing to a Precision PT6776 turbocharger. “I had my doubts when it came time to crank; it’s something that I can’t describe to anyone except those that have done it themselves. There is so much pressure, time and money waiting on the turn of a key. It was one of the single greatest moments in my whole life when it started first time, and the only problem was a small gas leak which took a few seconds to fix. “Shortly after I had the car dyno’d, we didn’t want to push it too hard on the freshly built motor, and tuned the map for low boost at 11psi (minimum wastegate pressure). The results were 445whp and 396lb ft of torque. On a recent road trip with Clint we got on it a bit, I had a tad bit of a jump on him, but he caught up quickly until we began to reach the top end and we evened out, then the small gap between us began to increase, his car is very quick,” explained Carl with a grin. The transmission has naturally been upgraded to cope with the extra horsepower, and now features a Fidanza lightweight flywheel, SPEC Stage III clutch, and rebuilt rear differential with a 2.79 final drive ratio. The anchors will be suitably upgraded later this year alongside plans to turn up the boost to 17-20psi with alcohol injection to push past 600whp.
Clint had similar priorities in his quest for more power, as he explains, “I didn’t want a turbo that only spooled at 6000rpm or a NA powerband that died off around 5500rpm. I wanted power that was usable and reliable, and I didn’t want a dyno queen either.” Late last year Clint bought a 2005 engine from BMW, and knowing he was going to fit a Vortech V-2 SQ supercharger, got on with the laborious task of stripping and rebuilding it with uprated pistons, rods and bearings, and some minor head work.
“Some of the earlier cars (October #2001
to February #2002
) were plagued with premature engine damage due to lack of lubrication to the connecting rod bearings, so the later engine is far superior.” Clint’s M Coupé now yields 510whp. He hopes to utilise the same ultra efficient aftercooler water-to-air setup with a custom turbo build shooting for a safe and reliable 700whp on pump gas at moderate boost.
“I like the predictable and linear power delivery of a centrifugal supercharger, but for brute power a turbo without the same parasitic loss of the ’charger and more flexibility is the way to go, in my opinion. The S54 has proven to make tons of power in an E46 M3 with the right turbo setup. Eventually I’d like to see that sort of power and have the world’s only street driven 1000hp S54 M Coupé,” he adds with a smile. Again the transmission has had similar upgrades to Carl’s car but the brakes are a little more impressive with a UUC/Wilwood big brake kit featuring six-piston calipers up front and four-pistons outback clamped to slotted E46 M3 discs.
Some may argue that the M Coupé’s styling is too quirky and tasteless, others will genuinely fall in love with it, but we all know beauty is only skin deep and, especially in the case of these two examples, has much more to offer under the bonnet. Not to mention it’s much more fun having a car that polarises opinions. And let’s not forget the model is not the work of brand managers, it’s the rare result of what happens when a serious group of hardcore driving enthusiasts at BMW’s Research and Development Centre take over, working after hours to build a car in secret and then somehow convince upper management to sell the thing.
South Carolina built, North Carolina refined, these M Coupés retain their fundamental values; quirky, impractical and nonconformist, but now they’re an even rarer beast, improved in every sense and with the drama of force induction. Carl and Clint should be very proud indeed. That team of engineers had it right, there’s nothing wrong with being individual, nothing at all.
DATA FILE – S52-POWERED M COUPÉ
ENGINE: 3.2-litre inline-six S52 with CP pistons (8.5:1), Eagle H-beam rods, new OE bearings, built head including ported exhaust manifold with new springs, lifters, guides and retainers, multi-layered steel headgasket, ARP main bolts and head studs, Ferrera Competition valves, Precision PT6776 turbocharger, T04HPS 4” inlet ported compressor housing with .68 A/R T4 Tang, Tial 44mm wastegate with open dump, Tial 50mm Q blowoff valve, Hallman Pro RX Boost Controller, custom drip tank fed Tilton scavenge pump with stainless braided turbo lines, XS-Power frontmount intercooler with Spal electric puller fan (1300 CFM) and 3” powdercoated custom intercooler piping, RMR Billet aluminium fuel rail, 75lb Precision fuel injectors, Walbro 255lt fuel pump, fully stainless braided fuel system, Aeromotive AEI-13101 fuel pressure regulator with Marshall Midnight FP gauge, VAC Motorsports oil filter relocation adapter with stainless braided oil cooler lines, Peterson inline oil filter, Mocal remote oil cooler thermostat, Earl’s oil cooler front-mount PWR radiator, Meziere Enterprises expansion tank, Griffin radiator cap, custom overflow tank, Spal cooler fan (2070 CFM), M50 intake manifold with Marshall Midnight Vac gauge, 3” 90 degree welded elbow to throttle body, ASC delete, AA water/alcohol injection system, air injector delete, Power Plant Racing tuned TEC3R standalone engine management system with PLX wideband O2 controller hardwired in cabin engine monitoring system, K&N 4” inlet cone filter, 666 Fabrication stainless steel tubular T4 exhaust manifold, full stainless custom exhaust (3” downpipe to a Y 2.5” dual Vibrant StreetPower straight-through mufflers), AA 02 simulators, carbon fibre engine cover, BilletWerks aluminum caps.
TRANSMISSION: Fidanza lightweight flywheel, SPEC Stage III clutch, Big Boy Clutch Stop, UUC stainless clutch line (clutch delay valve delete), Vorshlag poly motor mounts, UUC tranny mounts with enforcers, UUC Evo III short shifter with Effort Reducing Kit and Double Shear Selector Rod, rebuilt rear differential with a 2.79 final drive ratio, IE poly subframe bushings.
CHASSIS: 8x18” (front) and 10x18” (rear) CCW Classic wheels custom powdercoated gold shod in 275/35 and 235/45 Falken Azenis tyres respectively. Bilstein Sport shocks with H&R Sport springs, JT designs rear shock mounts, Mason Engineering front strut brace and StrongStrut rear strut brace, anti-roll bar poly bushings. Euro-spec two-piece floating front discs.
EXTERIOR: Motion Motorsport front splitters, vinyl black motorsport flag across bonnet, roof spoiler, side vents and kidney grille colour-coded, shaved side markers, clear bumper lenses, vented and shrouded front bumper, rear wiper and valance delete, smoked rears, 35% window tint.
INTERIOR: Bride Exas III seats with Impact #F1
7-point camlock harness and Sparco harness bar mounted on VacMotorsports Billet Seat rail mounts, TC Design Delrin race gear knob, M-Tech handbrake handle and clutch, brake and rest pedals, Redline Alcantara gaiters with tan stitching, custom aluminum heel-toe gas pedal, #MOMO
steering wheel hub and mod 07 steering wheel, Z8 starter button with relocated aux power outlet, OE chrome interior handles and door lock pins, LeatherZ door armrests and centre console, Gary’s GM mirror adapter, Subaru 2.5 RS dash-mounted pod with #Defi
oil pressure, engine and exhaust gas temperature and boost gauges, PLX DM-5 wideband O2 sensor.
CQ-VX100U in-dash DVD receiver with 7” touch-screen (including integrated navigation and eightdisc changer and iPod interface), MB Quartz speakers, Hawker marine battery with hardwired trickle charger.
THANKS: My wife, family and friends, Greg at Jonesmechanical, Chris at Vacmotorsports.com, Hung at Extremespsi.com, Kevin at Bush machine, Chad at Cross hose and fitting, Jon at 666fab. com, Summit Racing. If you’d like to have some of Carl’s handy work under your hood email carl. [email protected]
DATA FILE – S54-POWERED M COUPÉ
ENGINE: 3.2-litre inline-six S54 engine fully balanced and blueprinted, with CP Pistons (9.5:1), Pauter rods, ported and polished head, five-angle valve job, #Vortech
V-2 SQ S-Trim supercharger, custom intake pipes, RMS dual aftercooled intake manifold, custom front-mount aftercooler heat exchanger, Johnson aftercooler water pump, Siemens 633cc high flow fuel injectors, Walbro 255lph fuel pump and custom lines, Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator, high pressure oil pump, Denso Iridium IXU-24 spark plugs, plasma coil packs, S54 Alpha-N ECU programme (MAF delete) and custom software, ceramic-coated Euro-spec CSL headers, custom exhaust mid section with high flow cats, custom UUC rear exhaust section.
TRANSMISSION: UUC Stage 3 8.5lb flywheel and clutch, stainless clutch line (clutch delay valve delete), UUC Red tranny mounts with enforcers, Euro-spec #E36 #M3
Evo six-speed ’box, Rogue Octane short-shift kit with weighted selector rod, custom shortened shift linkage and shortened and balanced driveshaft, custom-built rear differential with 40% lock up and a 3.64 final drive ratio, Ireland Engineering subframe bushings.
CHASSIS: 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) HRE C20 powdercoated gold wheels shod in 245/35 and 275/30 Toyo Proxy T1-R tyres respectively. TC Klein True Match (double adjustable) coilover system (including #Koni
adjustable shocks and VVS springs rated at 500lb front and rear), adjustable camber/caster plates and rear shock mounts, upgraded front lower control arm bushings, Racelogic Traction Control System, StrongStrut front strut brace, Racing Dynamics adjustable anti-roll bars, custom front anti-roll bar endlinks. UUC/Wilwood big brake kit (six-piston front four-piston rear), slotted E46 M3 discs, stainless steel brake lines.
EXTERIOR: AC Schnitzer front splitters, rear wiper deleted, custom Hella 5k HID Projectors with hyper white angel eyes, Euro-spec clear front marker lights, white and grey BMW and ///M badges.
INTERIOR: UUC pedal kit, Z8 starter button, Alcantara gaiters with M tricolor stitching, Alpine white steering wheel and doorcard trim, X5 footwell power outlet and lighting kit, custom steering column-mounted dual pod with AEM digital boost/vac gauge and air/fuel meter.
ICE: Pioneer AVIC-Z2 #Pioneer
in-dash DVD player/navigation system with iPod integration, custom iPod mount, relocated HVAC Controls.
THANKS: My Girlfriend, Christina, Jason D and all of Homegrown Motorsports, my company the Analysis Corporation, all the Z3 Coupé friends and enthusiasts friends from around the globe.