Purchase & First Thoughts
If you would have told me that I would be buying an M Coupe less than one month after buying our E39 M5, I wouldn’t have believed you. When we were younger (circa 2001), I remember seeing a new Z3 M Coupe in the showroom of our local BMW dealership. It was Cosmos with black/grey interior. I thought it was the coolest car ever, and it made a huge impression on me. I always lusted after these odd looking cars. Like the E39 M5 we recently purchased, this is another dream come true.
An acquaintance of mine in Chicago tipped me off to this M Coupe and forwarded me the opportunity to buy it. One of the deciding factors that caused me to move forward so quickly was the information I discovered when searching the VIN in Google. The search results led me to bmwmregistry.com where I discovered that this specific M Coupe was the first production model M Coupe built for North America and the first customer delivered M Coupe in North America. My acquaintance in Chicago quickly dubbed the car “33” for the last two digits of the VIN. Technically, our’s was the 34th M Coupe built with all previous being pre-production models. There was a pre-production M Coupe that donned ’00’ at the end of its VIN – it was a Cosmos over Kyalami build. We felt ’33’ was a perfect fit and proceeded to having it shipped to our location.
We knew a little of the history of the Coupe after finding out the previous owner, who had owned this Coupe for the last thirteen years, was a member of bimmerforums. Reportedly, the car had Ground Control coilovers, the cooling system had been replaced somewhat recently and the front bumper was a little banged up due to an encounter with a ditch.
After waiting about two weeks the Coupe arrived and we gave it a quick look over. The first thing that needed immediate attention was the battery. It was completely dead. I pulled the battery from our Z3 roadster that we haven’t been driving much and put it in the Coupe. This solved the battery issue.
Also, the shift knob would not stay on the gear lever and kept coming off during shifting. We removed it and pulled the ZHP knob from out Z3 roadster and put it in the Coupe temporarily until we buy a new shift knob.
Things that need addressing:
- Need to clean up the battery area since it is missing the vent tube. We have some vent tube on hand and will be adding it shortly.
- The dashboard illumination does not work. Probably related to the shift knob wires shorting to ground and blowing the rheostat dimmer control.
- The seat bushings are nonexistent. During hard acceleration or braking, the seats rock back and forth. Typical for Z3s and the bushings are already ordered.
- The passenger seat switch sticks and will not move the seat up and down. We will look into this while replacing the seat bushings.
- The seatbelts don’t retract well. It looks like there may be a plastic part of the mechanism that is broken. Debating whether to just buy new seatbelts or not considering how much of the interior has to be removed to replace them.
- HVAC illumination bulbs are burned out and need replacing.
- The glovebox is sagging horribly and needs to be reinforced.
- Headliner material is sagging and needs to be recovered.
- The clutch pedal leans to the left and needs new bushings, maybe even a new pedal. Also needs a proper flush as it engages too close to the floor.
- The license plate lights don’t work.
- The right side of the exhaust hangs lower than the left side. Probably a broken exhaust mount.
- New front bumper and passenger fender liner.
- The wheels need to be refinished. Debating on Chrome Shadow or the original Hyper Silver.
- General basic maintenance that we usually do on new acquisitions, such as fluids, filters etc.
Things that we would like to do:
- Add LeatherZ sunroof shade. Already ordered and waiting for it to be delivered.
- Modify the sunroof switch to make it illuminated.
- Bi-xenon retrofit similar to our Z3 roadster.
We never thought we would have an E36/8 M Coupe, but maybe it was more of when and not if. This Coupe needs some work, but we are really appreciating it after driving it for a few days. It definitely attracts attention compared to the other BMWs we own. When we were younger, we always romanticized the S52, but daily driving an S54 and S62 really changes your outlook and makes the S52 a little disappointing. In the tossable package that is the quirky little Z3 M Coupe, the S52 still makes it an enjoyable drive.
We look forward to bringing this car back to its former glory and sharing it at car events and rallies. We have already taken it to a local weekly car show where it garnered a lot of interest and comments from people saying they had never seen one before or asking what kind of BMW it is.
Interested in checking out some of our other BMWs? Check out our garage.