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BMW Z3 M E36

Roadster version

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BMW Z3 M E37 Coupé

The M roadster is the BMW M-developed version of the Z3 roadster. It uses one of three 24-valve six-cylinder engines originally developed by BMW M for the E36 M3 and E46 M3. It also has an M-tuned chassis and several unique cosmetic parts.The Z3 M Roadster E36 was first unveiled at the 1996 Geneva motor show, though production did not begin until later that year.


1996-2002 BMW Z3 M E36 Roadster
Type
Z3 M Euro Spec ('96-'00)
Z3 M Euro Spec ('00-'02)
Engine
Code
S50 B32
S54 B32
Displacement
3201cc
3246cc
Cylinders
6
6
Fuel type
Gasoline
Gasoline
Power
236kW | 321HP
239kW | 325HP
Torque@RPM
350Nm@3250rpm
350Nm@4900rpm
Performance
Top Speed
250km/h | 155mph
250km/h | 155mph
Acceleration
0-100km/h
0-60mph

5.4s

5.3s
Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
City
16.6 | 14.1
16.6 | 14.1
Highway
7.9 | 29.7
7.9 | 29.7
Combined
11.1 | 21.1
11.1 | 21.1

Type
Z3 M U.S. Spec ('98-'00)
Z3 M U.S. Spec ('00-'02)
Engine
Code
S52 B32
S54 B32
Displacement
3152cc
3246cc
Cylinders
6
6
Fuel type
Gasoline
Gasoline
Power
176kW | 240HP
231kW | 315HP
Torque@RPM
320Nm@3800rpm
340Nm@4900rpm
Performance
Top Speed
250km/h | 155mph
250km/h | 155mph
Acceleration
0-100km/h
0-60mph

5.5s

5.5s
Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
City
-
-
Highway
-
-
Combined
-
-

Dimensions
Length
4025mm
Width
1740mm
Height
1266mm

Source for technical specifications: Ultimatespecs.

Like all Z3-based cars, every BMW Z3 M Roadster was assembled at the Spartanburg, South Carolina factory. The drivetrain was assembled in Germany and mated with the rest of the car at Spartanburg.

Versions and Production Numbers

The original M roadsters, with engines from the E36 M3, were built through June of 2000 in three different versions: European-specification (S50 engine) in both left- and right-hand drive, and North American-specification (S52 engine) in left-hand drive.

After having been discontinued for more than six months, a revised M roadster entered production in February, 2001. All three versions (European-spec/LHD, European-spec/RHD and North American-spec) utilize the S54 motor from the E46 M3.

  • ECE S50 (LHD): 3,557 built from 09/96 thru 06/2000
  • ECE S50 (RHD): 918 built from 11/97 thru 06/2000
  • NA S52 (LHD): 8,938 built from 02/98 thru 06/2000
  • ECE S54 (LHD): 283 built from 02/2001 thru 05/2002
  • ECE S54 (RHD): 79 built from 02/2001 thru 04/2002
  • NA S54 (LHD): 1,600 built from 02/2001 thru 05/2002

What changed during the production of the original (S50 -and S52-powered) M roadster

The following items were introduced or modified during the several years that the S50- and S52-powered M roadsters were produced:

  • Side impact airbags available in most markets (9/98 production)
  • In-dash CD player optional in most markets (9/98 production)
  • Alpine White III (300) and Dakar Yellow II (337) exterior colors available (9/98 production)
  • Kyalami Orange/Black leather interior available (9/98 production)
  • Soft top insulation upgraded (4/99 production)
  • Chrome slats added to front "kidney" grilles (4/99 production)
  • Chrome headlight surrounds added (4/99 production)
  • Central locking upgraded to include the fuel door (4/99 production)
  • Airbags upgraded to two-stage “smart” versions (4/99 production)
  • Titanium Silver metallic (354) introduced in place of Arctic Silver metallic (309) (4/99 production)
  • Oxford Green II metallic (430) introduced in place of Boston Green metallic (275) (4/99 production)
  • Harmon Kardon audio system upgraded (7/99 production)

In addition to the above items, the North American-spec M roadster (S52) was fitted with the following upgrades during its production:

  • Voltmeter in center console gauge cluster (5/98 production)
  • ASC+T traction control introduced (9/98 production)
  • Clear turn signal lenses in place of amber versions (9/98 production)

Changes made to the M roadster starting with February, 2001 production

The updated M roadster entered production in February, 2001 with the following changes:

  • More powerful and advanced S54 engine (developed for the E46 M3)
  • 3.15:1 final drive for all markets
  • Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
  • Firmer suspension settings adopted from those of the M coupe
  • Low tire pressure monitoring system
  • Revised gauges with gray backgrounds
  • Reshaped rearview mirror with auto-dimming and chrome surround (in some markets)
  • Curved exterior M badges
  • RoadStar alloy wheels with Chrome Shadow finish
  • Evergreen (358), Dakar Yellow II (337) and Cosmos Black metallic (303) paints discontinued
  • Laguna Seca Blue (448), Phoenix Yellow metallic (445), Steel Gray metallic (400) and Black Sapphire matallic (475) paints introduced
  • Evergreen/Black and Kyalami Orange/Black interiors discontinued
  • Laguna Seca Blue/Black and Dark Beige interiors introduced

Drivetrain

BMW M developed two versions of the original M roadster, one for the European market (in both left- and right-hand-drive) and one for the North American market. The European-spec model is fitted with the 321-hp (DIN) S50 B32 powerplant, as used in the European version of the E36 M3. North American-spec M roadsters utilize the 240-hp (SAE) S52 engine, as found in the North American iteration of the E36 M3. Both versions have identical ZF five-speed manual gearboxes, but the North American version is the only one fitted with BMW’s ASC+T traction control system (as of 9/98 production). Also, the European-spec M roadster is electronically governed to 155 mph, while the North American version is limited to 137 mph. (U.S-spec M roadsters also lack the "floating" front brake calipers fitted to all other M roadsters.)

Differences between the S50 and S52 engines

The North American-spec powerplant, known as the S52, is based closely on the regular production M52 engine. Like that motor, the S52 is a six-cylinder with a cast iron block, aluminum head and four valves per cylinder, with two-stage VANOS variable valve timing on the intake strokes. Unique to the S52 is a bore of 86.4mm and stroke of 89.6mm for a total displacement of 3,152cc. The engine is rated at 240 hp (SAE) at 6,000rpm and 236 lb/ft of torque at 3,800 rpm.

In addition to the larger displacement, the S52 utilizes the following special M components:

  • Ported and polished cylinder head
  • Retuned VANOS variable valve timing for greater high-rpm power
  • Heavy-duty valve springs
  • More finely balanced camshafts
  • Valve lifters, springs and spring seats with reduced mass
  • Free-flowing intake and exhaust systems

The European-spec powerplant, known as the S50 B32, is a much more exotic unit. With a bore of 86.4mm and a stroke of 91mm, the S50 B32 has a total displacement of 3,201cc. Like the S52, it has an iron block and aluminum head with four valves per cylinder. However, the S50 B32 incorporates the following special features to allow it to produce an impressive 321 hp (DIN) at 7,400rpm and 258 lb/ft of torque at 3,250 rpm:

  • Individual throttle plates for each cylinder
  • Increased compression ratio to 11.3:1
  • Advanced BMW/Siemens MSS50 engine management system able to compute 20 million instructions per second
  • Double VANOS continuously variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust strokes
  • Lightweight pistons
  • Dual-mass flywheel
  • Graphite-coated conrods
  • Larger inlet valves
  • Second oil pump

Differences between the S50 and S54 engines

The S54 powerplant of the later M coupes is technically an evolution of the iron-block S50 B32 unit used in all European-spec M coupes built through June of 2000. Although the peak power and torque of the S54 (325 hp at 7,400 rpm and 261 lb/ft of torque at 4,900 rpm) are barely increased compared to the S50 B32 (321 hp at 7,400 rpm and 258 lb/ft of torque at 3,250 rpm), they share few major components and differ in many areas including:

  • Increased cylinder bore to 87mm (from 86.1mm) for a new total displacement of 3,246cc (from 3,201cc)
  • Modified camshafts
  • High pressure Double VANOS continuously variable valve timing system with faster operation at high rpm
  • Increased compression to 11.5:1 (from 11.3:1)
  • More advanced BMW/Siemens MSS 54 engine management control
  • Finger-type rocker arms for reduced reciprocating mass and friction
  • One-piece aluminum head casting for lighter weight
  • Scavenging oil pump to maintain pressure during heavy cornering

The S50 B32 unit can be identified by the "BMW M Power" inscription on its cam cover, while the S54 version contains only the "M" badge. The other major addition to the revised M roadster is an M-tuned version of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) for all markets. An evolution of Automatic Stability Control plus Traction (ASC+T), DSC compensates for oversteer and understeer through manipulation of each individual brake as determined by sensors measuring steering angle, vehicle speed, cornering force, brake pressure and the vehicle’s rotation around its vertical axis. The system is fully integrated with the BMW/Siemens MSS 54 engine management control, and its intervention can be reduced or completely eliminated via a console-mounted button.

All of the updated M roadsters sold worldwide are powered by the S54 engine, as used in the E46 M3. European-spec versions are rated at 325 hp (DIN), while North American versions produce 315 hp (SAE), which translates to about 320 hp (DIN). The small loss in power can be attributed to the more restrictive placement of the catalysts on North American-spec cars in order to improve cold-start emissions. All S54-powered M roadsters have an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph (S52-powered M roadsters were limited to 137 mph), though the U.S.-spec model is not equipped with the two-piece floating front brake calipers.

Gearbox

All M roadsters use the ZF Type C five-speed manual gearbox with the following ratios: 4.21 (1), 2.49 (2), 1.66 (3), 1.24 (4), 1.00 (5). The final drive is either 3.23:1 (S52) or 3.15:1 (S50 and S54). A limited slip differential with a maximum locking of 25 percent is standard.

Chassis

Like all Z3s, the M roadster’s suspension is made up of MacPherson struts in the front and semi-trailing arms in the rear. However, compared to the six-cylinder Z3 roadster, the M roadster has the following modifications:

  • Wider front and rear tracks (by 0.4-inches)
  • Reduced ride height (by 1.1-inches)
  • Modified front suspension geometry
  • Firmer springs and shocks
  • Thicker anti-roll bars
  • Stronger semi-trailing arms
  • Reinforced subframe

When the M roadster switched to the S54 engine (2/01 production), the chassis was upgraded to the even stiffer springs and shocks developed for the M coupe.

Brakes

The M roadster adopted the brakes from the contemporary E36 M3, four-wheel vented discs measuring 12.4-inches in the front and 12.3-inches in the rear. In addition, all M roadsters except those produced for the U.S. market were equipped with two-piece "floating" front rotors.

The U.S. market was denied the more efficient two-piece rotors offered in the rest of the world because BMW of North America was concerned that, if not properly maintained, the rotors presented the possibility of failing, thus creating a legal liability. However, M roadsters produced for the Canadian market were equipped with the floating rotors.

Wheels and tires

All M roadsters use the same size tires (225/45ZR17 in the front and 245/40ZR17 in the rear) mounted on one of two versions of the five-spoke "M RoadStar" alloy wheel. Both are sized 7.5x17-inch (front) and 9x17-inch (rear), but there are two distinct finishes: Early M roadsters (S50 and S52 engines) feature a Chromeline finish, while the later models (S54 engine) utilize a darker Chrome Shadow finish.

Cosmetics

The M roadster is based on the wider six-cylinder Z3 roadster body, but adds a more aggressive front fascia with brake cooling ducts in place of foglights, unique side gill vents with the M logo, chrome windshield washer nozzles, curved M side-view mirrors, a lower rear bumper with four exposed exhaust tips and a relocated rear license plate (located between the taillights instead of within the bumper). NOTE: The M roadster was never updated to the reshaped rear fenders and taillights introduced on all other Z3 roadsters as part of the April, 1999 revision.

The exterior of the S54-powered M roadster shares all of its body panels with that of the earlier version. Only the curved M badges and RoadStar alloy wheels with Chrome Shadow finish are unique to the newer model. It is also available in several exterior colors shared with the E46 M3: Laguna Seca Blue (448), Steel Gray metallic (400) and Phoenix Yellow metallic (445).

Cosmetics - European spec vs. U.S.spec

The North American-spec version of the M roadster is cosmetically very similar to the European version, but can be identified by its amber side marker lights (and turn signal lenses on cars built before September, 1998) in the front bumper, "free form" headlights in place of the ellipsoid units and twin side-mounted rear license plate illumination lights instead of the single bumper-mounted design.

Interior

The interior of the M roadster features several unique items including a chrome-ringed instrument cluster with red needles and the M logo, three auxiliary chrome-ringed gauges in the center console, power and heated sport seats with special pleated leather trim (monotone black or two-tone), a 375mm three-spoke M steering wheel with tri-color stitching, an illuminated M leather shift knob with the M logo on the shift pattern and a chrome boot surround, an oval-shaped rear-view mirror, leather door pulls and center console trim, chrome inside door handles, and door sill plates with the "M" logo.

The most significant alteration to the interior of the revised M roadster is the addition of grey-faced gauges. In some markets, there is also a smaller auto-dimming rear-view mirror with chrome surround. Finally, two interior color combinations (Evergreen/Black and Kyalami Orange/Black) are discontinued on the newer model, while Laguna Seca Blue/Black and Dark Beige interiors are available.

Interior - European spec vs. U.S. spec

The interior of all M roadsters are essentially identical except for the instruments. In the main cluster, early Euro-spec cars have a 280 kph/170 mph speedometer and a tachometer that reflects the S50 engine's 7,200-rpm redline, while North American models have a 160-mph/260 kph speedometer and a tachometer with a redline graduated between 6,500 and 7,000 rpm to reflect the S52 engine's variable redline. In the center console, European models have an outside temperature gauge instead of the voltmeter used in North American editions.

The later S54-powered M roadsters all have essentially the same grey-faced instruments, including a 280 kph/170 mph speedometer and an outside temperature gauge (Fahrenheit on U.S. models, Celsius for all others).

All M roadsters sold in North America are equipped with cruise control and the Harmon/Kardon audio system, optional features in some other markets.

Factory options

Compared to other M models, there are only slight variations in standard and optional equipment for the M roadster, depending on the market and production date. Because all M roadsters have Nappa leather upholstery, air conditioning, power seats with two-stage heating and (from 9/98) a power-folding soft top, the list of options is short. In general, it included cruise control (standard in some markets), headlight washers (not offered in the U.S.), a removable body-color hardtop and various audio systems.

Source: bmwmregistry.com

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