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Mileage: 85,400 Miles
Engine: S52B32 Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission
Exterior color: Arctic Silver Exterior (309)
Interior: Grey / Black Nappa Leather Interior (Q6TT)
Black Soft Top
1 of 84 1998 M Roadsters in this Color Combo
M Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Z Armrest
Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
BMW C33 Business Stereo
Harmon Kardon HiFi Sound System
Limited Slip Differential
Roll Bar Protection System
Power Soft Top
Hard Top Preparation
Rubber Floor Mats
17-Inch Style 40 Roadstar Wheels
Nitto Motivo Tires
California / Colorado Car
Clean Carfax / No Accidents
The BMW M Roadster was the M variant of the BMW Z3. The Z3 made its public debut in 1995 in the Bond film GoldenEye with a young and dashing Pierce Brosnan behind the wheel. The scene with 007 and Natalya (Izabella Scorupco), her hair blowing in the wind, was the picture of top-down motoring. Initial Z3 sales were strong, but it soon became apparent that a more aggressive iteration was in order. BMW M GmbH solved this problem in 1998 with the M Roadster. At its heart was the E36 M3’s 245-horsepower S52B32 inline 6-cylinder engine. Power reached the ground through a manual gearbox (the only option), M-tuned suspension, and a limited slip differential. When it was time to stop, M3 brakes made short work of the job. The exclusive exterior kit featured a bold front splitter, M badges, staggered Style 40 Roadstar wheels, and a quad exhaust—the first BMW M car to get one. Inside, the exclusivity continued with M Roadster lettering on the doorsills and instrument cluster, an illuminated gearshift knob, and chrome ringed gauges, including an oil temperature gauge. The end result was one of the best retro-classic roadsters ever made. It had the fluid and graceful lines of a proper British sports car, with the raw power and driving dynamics that can only be found in a BMW M car. And because it was based on the Z3, it was produced right here in the good ‘ole USA in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
We purchased this 1998 BMW M Roadster as part of a bundle of Z3s and other convertible BMWs from a collector who favored 1990s era convertibles. It is Arctic Silver over two-tone grey and black Nappa leather with 85,400 miles. It is overall in very good cosmetic and mechanical condition, and has clearly been well cared for. The convertible top is also very nice with a good rear window. The Carfax reports it as a four-owner vehicle (the first two reported owners are likely the same owner). It was originally sold in California and dealer serviced there by Center BMW in Sherman Oaks. It came to Colorado with the next owner in 2010 and approximately 65,000 miles, and then it stayed here with the collector who it was purchased from. He registered it in Montana, but it remained in Colorado. Other than a round of routine maintenance, it rarely left his warehouse. The maintenance was done at 85,243 miles and included the engine air filter, accessory belts and pulleys, power steering reservoir & hoses, thermostat, thermostat housing, water pump, fuel filter, fuel filler cap, and the brake switch. In preparation for sale we flushed the brake fluid (due to age), gave it a fresh oil change, replaced the battery, and refreshed the cooling system parts that had not been done, including the radiator, expansion tank, expansion tank cap, and upper radiator hose. We also replaced a cracked console trim piece (a common issue) and the air conditioning switch. The Style 40 Roadstar wheels have been refinished in chrome—straight out of the 1990s! The mirror finish is so brilliant you could use them to shave in a pinch! There are holes in the rear deck lid for a luggage rack, which could be remedied by installing the luggage rack or sourcing another deck lid. The latter shouldn’t be too difficult as Arctic Silver was one of the most common M Roadster colors. The Carfax is clean and invoices for the work we completed as well as the work the previous owner did are included with the sale.
We specialize in Z3s at Glen Shelly and I personally own an S54-powered (Z3) M Coupe. This example is a very nice M Roadster, but it does have one glaring issue—the trunk floor spot-welds. All Z3s suffer this design flaw where the single point differential mount (derived from the E30 3 Series) separates from the body. It affects all model variants and years, and nearly every Z3 will eventually need it to be addressed. The spot-welds in the trunk floor that secure the differential mounting flanges start to sink, then separate. If not addressed the differential mount will eventually fail. The only proper fix for this is a dual-ear differential mount kit from Randy Forbes. The kit costs $1500 and will cost at least as much to install unless you (or your friend) are skilled welders. You will also need an E36 dual-ear differential cover to mount the Z3M differential. This M Roadster has four separated spot welds (I can email a picture gallery of detailed images). It is still drive-able, and I have seen much worse than this, but I recommend addressing this sooner rather than later. I know Randy Forbes personally and can offer assistance or complete it for you for additional expense, but it is priced much lower due to this issue.
A Randy Forbes kit will command a solid return on investment when it comes time to sell again and permanently fix the issue. One could argue that it is more cost-effective to buy this one inexpensively and fix it for good, versus pay more for a nicer example that will ultimately still run into the same issue.
Arctic Silver paint looks fantastic on the M Roadster. Silver always looks good, even when dirty, and it does an excellent job of accentuating the M Roadster’s long hood, side gills, and short trunk. The paint on this example is in excellent condition. The passenger side rear quarter panel and rear bumper have both been repainted at some point. There are no significant dents or door dings. Due to its history of being in California and having good clear bra installed, the front clip has none of the pitting that we usually see on Colorado cars. There is no failed clear coat, zero rust, and all VIN tags are in place. The convertible top has no rips or tears and the rear window panel is in good shape. There are two small areas of wear on the top’s C pillars and some fraying of the stitching around the rear window. The windshield is crack-free with very minor pitting and the side glass is in great shape. All trim and black-work are present and not UV faded. The outer headlight lenses are clear and translucent, having been protected by clear bra. All indicator lenses and taillight housings are clear and crack-free. The Style 40 Roadstar staggered wheels (17” x 7.5” front and 17” x 9“ rear) have a chrome finish in very good shape. There is one chipped area on the left rear wheel. They are wrapped in Nitto Motivo tires with plenty of tread remaining; the DOT dates are 2014.
The interior is one of the M Roadster’s most striking design features. The carpets have no stains or tears and are protected by M factory floor mats. The dashboard leather is soft and crack-free. The seat leather is in good condition with no tears, stains, or failed seams; there is minor wear and shrinkage on the driver’s bolster. The seat bushings are firm, with no rock, thanks to their recent replacement. All seat motors work. The 3-spoke steering wheel has no excessive wear. The instrument cluster has no blown out pixels and all gauges work correctly. The factory sound system sounds great. The lower switch panel has no cracks in the switch backing plate due to a replacement done by us. We also replaced the A/C button. Early 1998 M Roadsters did not have a voltmeter, which makes the factory blank somewhat rare. The glove box has minor sag, and the auto-dimming rearview mirror has no fluid leaks. All interior functions work correctly; the power windows, power door locks, cruise control; the heat blows warm and the air conditioning blows cold. The central locking does not work from the driver’s door lock. The convertible top headliner has no tears or sags and the power top functions correctly. The trunk tool kit is complete, it comes with three keys, but there are no owners’ manuals.
This is a turn-key M Roadster; all major and preventative maintenance is up to date. It has clearly been properly owned and benefitted from regular oil changes and routine maintenance for all of its life. I’ve already listed the recent maintenance items in the summary paragraph. The S52 engine is one of BMW’s most reliable power plants, having none of the rod bearing issues or needing the regular valve adjustments that later S54 powered M Roadsters did. The engine idles smoothly, pulls strong, and has no Vanos rattle. It does not leak, drip, or spot. The clutch and shifter are crisp and precise. There is no 5th gear lean due to worn shift pins (a common issue). The brakes are firm, the suspension is compliant, and there is no driveline or wheel bearing vibration or whine. The suspension bushings are solid. As mentioned previously, all four of the spot welds on the trunk floor are beginning to separate, which is an issue that should be addressed sooner rather than later, and is priced accordingly. Like any M Roadster, it will need and deserves the preventative care and maintenance that all BMWs of this vintage do, but at present it is properly sorted and ready for its new home.
BMW M Roadsters are one of the best buys in the M car market. They are the last of the old-school recipe, that is, a normally aspirated engine routed through a manual gearbox powering only the rear wheels. The M Roadster’s Z4 successor that followed had none of the grace and fluid classic roadster lines thanks to Chris Bangle’s flame surface design language. Bang for the buck, you can’t beat an M Roadster. We would like to find an owner who will continue to care for it and appreciate it as much as we do.
- Vehicle Identification Number: WBSCK9338WLC86667
- Type: CK93
- Model: M Roadster - USA
- Development Code: E36 (7)
- Chassis: Roadster
- Steering: LL
- Doors: 2
- ngine: S52
- Power: 240 Horsepower
- Drivetrain: Rear
- Transmission: Manual
- Color: Arctic Silver Metallic (309)
- Upholstery: Nappa Leather Black Grey (Q6TT)
- Production Plant: SPARTANBURG
- Production Date: 6-5-1998
- 209 Limited Slip Differential 25%
- 243 Airbag for Front Passenger
- 314 Door Mirror and Driver Lock Heated
- 354 Green Windscreen Stripe
- 380 Hard Top Preparation
- 388 Soft Top Black
- 395 Roll-bar Protection System
- 398 Power Soft Top Operation
- 410 Power Windows
- 440 Non-Smoke Package
- 481 Sports Seat
- 494 Seat Heating
- 530 Air Conditioning
- 540 Cruise Control
- 674 Hifi Loudspeaker System Harmon Kardon
- 687 Radio Preparation
- 692 Cd Changer I-bus Preparation
- 710 M Sports Steering Wheel
- 853 Language Version English