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Restoring an M Roadster Back to New Condition

Over the last 15-plus years I’ve had the pleasure of owning and restoring a variety of S52 M Roadsters. Some have had as little as 3,000 miles and needed nothing more than diagnosing and fixing a faulty seat harness. Others have required a very lengthy and comprehensive overhaul to address a leaking transmission and differential, dry hoses, frozen brake pistons, loose seat rails, rattling glove box, etc.


LC90535 - Part 4: Brake Service

The brakes on my M Roadster were working properly and the pads had plenty of life left, but I wasn’t overly happy with how well the car stopped. Since I was investing so much time and money to upgrade and overhaul the car’s suspension and drivetrain, it would be a shame to not improve the breaking as well. Luckily this decision was an easy one, because quality replacement brake components are fairly inexpensive. I replaced all four discs with Meyle OEM replacements and chose to use Akebono brake pads front and rear. The Akebono’s create very little brake dust, but have good grip and don’t wear too quickly.


LC90535 - Part 3: Clutch and Transmission Service

With 75K miles on the odometer, the original clutch still felt good on the M Roadster and could probably last at least another 25K miles. But since I’m overhauling the car and I needed to change the seals on the transmission, I might as well go the extra step and replace the clutch as well. The cost of a clutch service at the dealer or even an independent mechanic can easily exceed $1,500, especially once you consider all of the other work you should perform while you’re in there. But if you can perform the service yourself, you’re only paying for the parts, which are actually not that expensive.


LC90535 - Part 2: Suspension Overhaul

The suspension of my 2000 M Roadster is completely stock and needs to be replaced. The shocks have outlived their usefulness, giving the car a bouncing feeling over rough roads and feeling loose in the corners. To best address overhauling the suspension, you need to tackle a few areas. On the front end, replace the struts with new units, replace the springs with shorter and stiffer units to improve handling, replace the control arms, control arm bushings and tie rods to tighten up the steering feel and lastly, replace the sway bar links to make sure the car feels tight in the corners.


LC90535 - Part 1: Finding the Next M Roadster

Not soon after I sold my Imola Red DINAN M Roadster, a few of my friends started asking me about my next car purchase. I had just sold my car after two years of ownership and countless hours of restoration and service work and I started questioning why I put it up for sale in the first place. I had really enjoyed owning, restoring and driving my M Roadster, but the time had come to let go of the little red roadster, even if I was selling it for less than what I had invested in it. I was ready to focus on other non- car related projects.


LC88977 - Part 5: Addressing the Braking System

My M Roadster's braking system needed a refresh, but instead of just replacing the pads, I decided to completely overhaul the calipers, install new rotors and pads and then flush the system. The M Roadster's stock braking system is more than ample for the car, but my car was fitted with stainless steel brake lines which reduce the sponginess of the stock rubber lines and help give the system a little more bite.


LC88977 - Part 4: Suspension System Refresh

The suspension system of the Z3 M Roadster is fairly straightforward, using Macpherson struts in the front and a trailing arm system used in the rear that was first used in the 3-series cars back in the 1980s. The BMW Motorsport Group did make a number of meaningful upgrades to the suspension of the M cars vs the standard Z3s by installing stronger components, similar to parts found on the e36 M3. You can see the enhancements from subtle differences like where the front swaybar links connect to the strut housing instead of the control arm.


LC88977 - Part 3: The Service Work Begins - Tackling the Drivetrain

After an initial oil change service and some further driving of the car so that I could identify everything it needed, I started the multi-week teardown using my mechanic's lift to allow me full access to the underside and drivetrain of the car. Luckily I also had full use of a two car garage and work bench to store all of the removed pieces which needed servicing, like the seats, wheels, mufflers, front bumper and differential.


A True BMW Accessory Oddity

I have yet to find a good reference for this particular BMW GPS system on the 'world wide web', so I thought I would take this opportunity to briefly document its removal from a 2002 E36/7 M Roadster that I recently acquired. As neat and unique as this (apparently) rare GPS system is, I have decided to pull it from the car. It no longer seems to work and would be horrifically outdated map-wise even if it did. What's really annoying though, is that it bounces around on the dash like a Hawaiian bobble head hula girl. These days, top notch mapping and directions are available on any smart phone, and there are endless options for in-dash or windshield mount GPS units available. To be honest, I really don't use GPS much anyways.

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Car Enthusiast Guides
Jon Martin
Fort Collins, CO