If you’re a film buff, “M” is always for murder. If you’re a petrolhead, “M” has other connotations, though they are also loud and violent. In BMW’s case, though, any screaming you hear will be due to overloaded tires or passengers in the depths of an adrenaline rush and with death grips on the door handles.
The M cars sport many other tweaks to the base Z4 as well, including a wider front track, a stronger rear subframe, hydraulic power steering for better feel (the Z4’s is electric), 18-inch wheels and 225/45 front and 255/40 rear performance tires. The springs and dampers are sport-tuned, and the brakes are the same as those used for the old M3’s Competition package. Even the stability control system has been altered to be less intrusive. The car’s high-revving 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder S54 engine develops 330 horsepower and sends its power to the rear wheels through an exclusive six-speed manual transmission and a beefy limited-slip rear differential.
The best parts of this car can’t be found in numbers and statistics, even though the M Coupe is relatively lightweight (about a 3,200-pound base curb weight for the Coupe), has a near-ideal 50-50 weight distribution and can make 60 from a dead stop in 4.9 seconds. It provides some of the best thrills you can get from a non-exotic sports car, bringing out the driver’s inner hooligan with the power of the S54, the meaty steering wheel, and the driving position, which is near-as-makes-no-difference directly over the rear wheels. Every departure from a stoplight is an opportunity to hit 8,000 rpm, and every curve a chance for sweet, glorious over-steer.
Though not the quickest BMW M product, this one is arguably the most driver-centric. With just two seats, a modest trunk and no automatic transmission, the M Coupe gives the fewest concessions to the requirements of mundane life: no kids, no groceries, no traffic, certainly no speed cameras. What better place to take this no-nonsense beast, then, than the mountains of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, where there are no cross-streets, stop signs, stores, or law enforcement officers?
Well, that’s what my cousin and I did. Here’s a video to go along with the pictures.
A Lotus 15, Ferrari Testarossa, Porsche GT3, BMW 2002, and ALMS GT cars come to mind. You know, cars with character.
Sorry, I’m working. Anyone else going? Shoot this fine giraffe-avatar-having driving enthusiast a message.
Fangio and his Silver Arrow
There is a laundry list, but I have a particular soft spot for these lovely people:
Bernd Rosemeyer. He was a factory driver for Auto Union in the 30s. He was, naturally, and “honorary” member of the SS, but he never wore the uniform and took steps to actively undermine his military superiors. At the 1937 German Grand Prix, he landed a plane on the tarmac at the Nürburgring. At the start of the race, he led a rebellion against the Nazi injunction against the un-manly and un-Aryan practice of kissing wives and girlfriends before the race, and went, along with every other driver on the grid, to the paddock wall to do just that.
Here is is driving his Auto Union Type C at the aforementioned Grand Prix.
Juan Manuel Fangio. This is how much I love this guy:
We take selfies together outside of the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.
Michele Mouton. In a sport dominated by men, she drove for Audi’s factory rally team and took runner-up in the 1982 driver’s championship. She is lovely and talented and an antidote to so much of the macho bullshit that is synonymous with racing.
Sir Jackie Stewart. I like Scottish drivers of all stripes, (get it? It’s a tartan joke.) Colin McRae and Alan McNish, in particular, but Sir Jackie is my favorite, mostly for the following:
Thanks for the question. Who are yours?