The M Coupe, manufactured from 1998 until 2002, was developed under the leadership of engineer Burkhard Göschel with the intention of adding increased torsional and structural rigidity to the Z3 roadster’s chassis. The development team had a hard time convincing the Board of Directors to approve the model for production, but it 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, thus the doors and everything from the A-pillar forward are interchangeable between the coupe and roadster, as are most interior parts. The Z3 coupe, which mates the M coupe’s body with the standard Z3 drivetrain, chassis and cosmetics was approved for production at the same time.
The car is based on the BMW M Roadster. Although, the semi-trailing arm rear suspension was not modified from the M Roadster, the coupe is 2.7 times torsionally stiffer than its convertible counterpart. The most important aspect of the E36/8 M Coupe was the difference in engines, the BMW S50, BMW S52, and the BMW S54, were all offered in different markets at different times. Due to the unique styling of the M Coupe, dealer sales were slow, and dealerships sidestepped the M Coupe to sell the more practical and more profitable M3 models to performance enthusiasts.
As a result of their relative rarity, M Coupes retain more of their value than any other BMW since the E30 M3.