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Thread: S52 vs S54 driver experience?

  1. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmushial View Post
    Thank you to everyone for their input - very useful to hear the various points of view - and this is not to say: time to stop... I'm still finding such insightful to hear, ie, please continue. ... though the Randys have been too silent so far ??

    At this point I think I'm leaning toward the S54.

    But a related question: if one limits the selections to '98 - '02, why are there more Z3M's for sale than Z3's [weren't there like 8x as many non-///M's sold here vs ///M's)? ... the Z3's people just hang onto and drive them until they die? More of the Z3's have crashed and burned, leaving less to be had? Or maybe a lot of Z3's are like mine: knocking on 300k miles and deemed not worth selling?
    I think people keep their Ms. But throw away their Z3s. Just an enthusiasm gap between the owners, and a value gap if the car needs anything.

    It's getting to the point that there may be more E36 M3s for sale than plain old 3 series.
    Call me Mel. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me at home, I thought I would motor about a little and see the other parts of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.

  2. #52
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    Since I didn't look for a Z3 when I went shopping, I never noticed how many were available vs. the M. I do know I see way more Z3 on the road than M's.
    Wayne

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  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by rasmuw View Post
    Since I didn't look for a Z3 when I went shopping, I never noticed how many were available vs. the M. I do know I see way more Z3 on the road than M's.
    Likewise, probably 10x the number Z3's vs Z3m's... hence the head scratcher: why so many Z3M's for sale ??

  4. #54
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    There arent more Z3M's for sale

    There are more non-M Z3's for sale just in California then on the whole z3m buyers guide...

  5. #55
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    Where I live, Z3 M Roadsters are as rare as Z3 Coupes. But for non-enthusiast can't seem to tell apart. Once a guy in the office garage asked me why I've added M badge sticker on a Z3, lol (sorry, i added this one because I thought it was funny when i heard it).
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  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmushial View Post
    Thank you to everyone for their input - very useful to hear the various points of view - and this is not to say: time to stop... I'm still finding such insightful to hear, ie, please continue. ... though the Randys have been too silent so far ??

    At this point I think I'm leaning toward the S54.

    But a related question: if one limits the selections to '98 - '02, why are there more Z3M's for sale than Z3's [weren't there like 8x as many non-///M's sold here vs ///M's)? ... the Z3's people just hang onto and drive them until they die? More of the Z3's have crashed and burned, leaving less to be had? Or maybe a lot of Z3's are like mine: knocking on 300k miles and deemed not worth selling?
    I bought a '99 M Rdstr in November 2000 , and bought an '01 M Rdstr in August 2001; I still have both.

    I have made my position on this matter known so many times in the past seventeen (>17) years that even I'm sick of hearing myself say it. I've been a member of this forum >16 years, so if you want to know my opinion, you can look up the hundreds of old posts.

    I will reiterate one (1) point though, and maybe you'll get it; the last car I ever sell, given a choice free of personal physical limitations, will be the '01 M Rdstr. That's very telling, when you consider I've owned my Healey >40 yrs, and I really, really like my '99 M Coupe (that I had fitted a Eurosport Twinscrew Supercharger to for a former owner).

    NOW, GET OFF MY LAWN!

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by BimmerBreaker View Post
    There arent more Z3M's for sale

    There are more non-M Z3's for sale just in California then on the whole z3m buyers guide...
    When I compare cargurus and cars.com vs buyer's guide there's some 20 more Z3Ms... ??

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmushial View Post
    When I compare cargurus and cars.com vs buyer's guide there's some 20 more Z3Ms... ??
    You have to pay to list on that site, so the pool of cars on there will be limited to only the more valuable ones - ie. the M's - not at all a fair representation of the total number of cars available

    Over 50 results for BMW Z3 on Los Angeles craigslist. 4 are M roadsters...

    Personally I've bought almost every car I own on craigslist and haven't had an issue
    Actually the only car I didn't buy on craigslist was the M coupe I bought here on the forums

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Forbes View Post
    I bought a '99 M Rdstr in November 2000 , and bought an '01 M Rdstr in August 2001; I still have both.

    I have made my position on this matter known so many times in the past seventeen (>17) years that even I'm sick of hearing myself say it. I've been a member of this forum >16 years, so if you want to know my opinion, you can look up the hundreds of old posts.

    I will reiterate one (1) point though, and maybe you'll get it; the last car I ever sell, given a choice free of personal physical limitations, will be the '01 M Rdstr. That's very telling, when you consider I've owned my Healey >40 yrs, and I really, really like my '99 M Coupe (that I had fitted a Eurosport Twinscrew Supercharger to for a former owner).

    NOW, GET OFF MY LAWN!
    Sorry to offend... but actually did go back and read the archives quite a bit - and really didn't see answers to my question... ie, I think I'm asking a somewhat different question, as in: not a technical comparison, but one qualitative in nature: living with them [which can bleed over into the technical in terms of repairs]... and yes I only have 4/11th the posts you have, and respecting your knowledge on the topic: hence my question.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by BimmerBreaker View Post
    You have to pay to list on that site, so the pool of cars on there will be limited to only the more valuable ones - ie. the M's - not at all a fair representation of the total number of cars available

    Over 50 results for BMW Z3 on Los Angeles craigslist. 4 are M roadsters...

    Personally I've bought almost every car I own on craigslist and haven't had an issue
    Actually the only car I didn't buy on craigslist was the M coupe I bought here on the forums
    So maybe somewhat an answer to my question: most of the Z3s have been driven into the ground, are worth less, and hence less worthwhile in listing... your use of LA Craigslist - LA being a disproportionately large pool of Z3s [larger than PHX]? Or the fact that the list would cover that many more people and hence more for sale?

  10. #60
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    I rare vote here to keep the M52TU going to 500k, I too sometimes wish for more muscle but the feeling passes, and when I have to fix something it's cheap. Can't really do much but autocross with convertibles either around these parts too, so what's the point? - unless you are really out there in the mountains and get to have some fun.

    “Great wisdom is generous; petty wisdom is contentious.” 无为

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmushial View Post
    But a related question: if one limits the selections to '98 - '02, why are there more Z3M's for sale than Z3's [weren't there like 8x as many non-///M's sold here vs ///M's)? ... the Z3's people just hang onto and drive them until they die? More of the Z3's have crashed and burned, leaving less to be had? Or maybe a lot of Z3's are like mine: knocking on 300k miles and deemed not worth selling?
    Not sure we’re you are looking. When I was in the market for one last year, there was 4xZ3 to each Z3M model in my area (NE). I had to get mine from Midwest via transport, because I could not find decent Z3M. And it was even tougher to find S54. Took me about 4 months to finally find one. I am sure summer season had something to do with that, but carguru has tons of non-M Z3s for sale.

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmushial View Post
    Sorry to offend... but actually did go back and read the archives quite a bit - and really didn't see answers to my question... ie, I think I'm asking a somewhat different question, as in: not a technical comparison, but one qualitative in nature: living with them [which can bleed over into the technical in terms of repairs]... and yes I only have 4/11th the posts you have, and respecting your knowledge on the topic: hence my question.

    From your 1st post:

    Quote Originally Posted by gmushial View Post
    But my question is: it is widely claimed that the S54 version is significantly faster - but when I look at the torque curves of the two engines: they really aren't that much different - the real difference is the ability to wind the S54 some 2k RPM higher, hence hang in a higher ratio gear longer, hence providing more torque to the real wheels at a given speed: translating into improved performance. But my quesition is: short of winding it higher - is there much difference btwn the two motors (in terms of delivered performance)? Or are there subtle things like throttle response, given the intake geometry etc?
    I guess there are different interpretations you could get from my previous response, but I wasn't offended, more like losing my patience (not a big deal, can happen at any time...).

    Scott picked up on it when he saw my post, even saying that he rightly figured I was__or wanted to__ sit this one out.

    Then you called me out, so I responded

    Using an example I have typed time and time again, and is based on experience gained when I was using either car as a daily driver on my back when I had a day-job commute__36-38 miles one-way w/80% Interstate; in the (S52) black car, I would find myself attempting to shift up to another gear once I'd settled into traffic after merging onto the freeway. There were no more gears, I was already in 5th.

    Same commute in the (S54) gray car, and after settling into the rhythm of traffic, and taking my first account, checking gauges (speed, temp, etc.) and I'd notice that I was cruising along quite comfortably, but still in 4th gear. I hadn't even gotten up to 5th yet, and this car's had a 3.73:1 final drive since it was four (4) months old.

    For ME and for what I was then, and now use the car for, the S-54 is by far my 1st choice. Not that there's anything wrong with the S52__I own two (2) of them and used to have a 3rd ('95 M3 with an S52 swapped in)__but if I could only keep ONE (1) car, it would be the gray one (S54).

    In response to some other posts, I will continue...

    There are many more equipment specifications and trim/cosmetic detail differences between a Z3__regardless of engine size__and an M Roadster. To use only the hp/tq output as descriptor is ignoring a lot of other benefits that the M versions offer.

    I see and work on a lot of these cars (quite a few are members of this and similar forums) and if you put a blindfold on me and led me into a car, I PROMISE YOU that I would know the difference if you put me in a Z3 or an M Rdstr. I'm trying not to be an M-snob, but the two (2) are quite emphatically not the same.

  13. #63
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    A few things make the decision easy.
    Budget - if the S54 is more than you want to spend, get an S52 and don't look back.
    Ability - Deleting ASC on the S52 is a must. But if you want the safety net, DSC on the 01+ is light years better.
    Intended Use - Get an S52 for daily commuting. They are a little better on gas and aren't as manic (S54 has higher compression, wants to scream). Won't affect value as much if you're putting miles on it. If it's a weekend toy, get the S54. One of the sweetest engines ever made and will retain value better.
    Mod plans: if you want to go nuts, S52's are great with boost (turbo). No point in SC'ing though in your case, better off just starting with an S54. If you want to keep it simple, again go S54.

    S54 is basically overkill in that car. The suspension design demands a driving style that the S52's mid-range suits well which is why people still enjoy it compared to the later car. Both feel quick - especially with the top down - with you seated just fore of the lively rear end. That said though, S54 is the true hot rod. It just requires extra ability above 7/10ths.
    Last edited by jvit27; 10-09-2018 at 06:08 PM.
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    "M3 RS" Cosmos Black/M-cloth (GrpN S50b32), '02 M3 Alpine White/Impulse/SMG (sunroof delete), '04 X5 4.8iS Estoril Blue/M-texture, '02 M3 Alpine White/Black/6MT (CSL wh0re), '97 M3 Techno Violet/Modena (Eurosport Twinscrew), '04 M3 Alpine White/Black/SMG (garage queen)




  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by jvit27 View Post
    A few things make the decision easy.
    (snip) Get an S52 for daily commuting. They are a little better on gas and aren't as manic (S54 has higher compression, wants to scream). Won't affect value as much if you're putting miles on it.

    S54 is basically overkill in that car. The suspension design demands a driving style that the S52's mid-range suits well which is why people still enjoy it compared to the later car. Both feel quick - especially with the top down - with you seated just fore of the lively rear end. That said though, S54 is the true hot rod. It just requires extra ability above 7/10ths.
    You have a bazillion posts, yet you don't sound like a person who has driven an M Coupe S54 much. Just because an S54 will turn 7600 RPM doesn't mean that it has to be driven that way. Mine has over 100K miles on it, and 75K of them were me. All of mine are street-driven. About the only time I even get to 6000 RPM is on a freeway on-ramp. Most of the time it rarely gets above 4500, because it pulls really strong, and on the street I don't need (and usually, can't use) more acceleration. Yes, I've hoofed it a few times, and the back end jumps out a few times, but I doubt it happens more often than with an S52. You put on a good set of street tires (I'm partial to Continental DWS) and the only time it messes with you is if you flat-foot it when it is wet. The only reason not to consider an S54 are financial; both initial cost and maintenance will be higher than an S52, but an almost 20 year-old car is going to have higher maintenance costs anyway.

    YMMV, Marty

  15. #65
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    I have had both and had both at the same time. I sold the S52 and kept the S54 and will keep it as long as I can drive

  16. #66
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    I think it says a lot that most people who have owned both end up with an s54 or at least prefer the s54

  17. #67
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    S54 vs S52 supercharged? I tried to steer this into this question, got one response, so ... if I have an S52 Z3M, and I have $5k to spend on it, do I sell it and buy an S54 or buy a supercharger? I like my car, am used to it, know what it has and needs, so I'm prone to keep it. On the other hand, I've had enough experience with hot-rodding to know that it always seems easier before you do it. .... thoughts?

  18. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartyBtoo View Post
    You have a bazillion posts, yet you don't sound like a person who has driven an M Coupe S54 much. Just because an S54 will turn 7600 RPM doesn't mean that it has to be driven that way. Mine has over 100K miles on it, and 75K of them were me. All of mine are street-driven. About the only time I even get to 6000 RPM is on a freeway on-ramp. Most of the time it rarely gets above 4500, because it pulls really strong, and on the street I don't need (and usually, can't use) more acceleration. Yes, I've hoofed it a few times, and the back end jumps out a few times, but I doubt it happens more often than with an S52. You put on a good set of street tires (I'm partial to Continental DWS) and the only time it messes with you is if you flat-foot it when it is wet. The only reason not to consider an S54 are financial; both initial cost and maintenance will be higher than an S52, but an almost 20 year-old car is going to have higher maintenance costs anyway.

    YMMV, Marty
    You're absolutely right, I don't have much seat time in the S54 coupes (Sad!). My point is more along the lines that because the S54 really shines on the top end, and a good driver can manage it, the chassis is just more of a handful at the upper end of it's limits with the additional rpm/hp/tq. This is where the multi-link rear of the 3 & Z4 manage the rear end better (fun factor being a different story altogether). For people who don't necessarily drive their car that way, the S52 is just a good alternative that saves some money; plus they are a better choice if FI is your end goal. Below 4500 the S54 is still better but the displacement is the same and thus torque. So there isn't a huge delta there. It's moreso the higher compression and dual vanos that affect the feel & delivery to which yes, the S54 absolutely crushes every other inline-6 BMW offers - even to this day. It just comes with a premium and some people may be more objective in spending the extra money.

    FWIW i've owned six S54 E46 cars and five S50/S50b32/S52 E36 cars, all in various configurations from NA to FI and N/A and S54 is admittedly my favorite too (turbo S52 is a close 2nd though!)
    Last edited by jvit27; 10-10-2018 at 03:15 PM.
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    Gone but not forgotten:

    '99 M3 Estoril Blue/Dove Grey (bought new), '95 M3 Arctic Silver/Black (3.5 HFM setup), '97 318ti Arctic Silver/Red Millpoint (M-Tech Dinan), '02 325XiT Black/Black/5MT (wintermobile), '98.5
    "M3 RS" Cosmos Black/M-cloth (GrpN S50b32), '02 M3 Alpine White/Impulse/SMG (sunroof delete), '04 X5 4.8iS Estoril Blue/M-texture, '02 M3 Alpine White/Black/6MT (CSL wh0re), '97 M3 Techno Violet/Modena (Eurosport Twinscrew), '04 M3 Alpine White/Black/SMG (garage queen)




  19. #69
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    If I might: can I ask about the suspension of the 98-00 vs 01-02's - my impression is they're the same - is that correct? Or the actual question: given equal tires, struts/shocks/ alignment, and in a non-hp/torque limiting situation: are they the same? ... part of what's leading me to this larger Z3M question is: do I take an existing Z3 I own - therefore no out of pocket cost - rebuild it, seriously upgrade suspension - do I end up at a Z3M in terms of handling? My impression is: yes one can get there; but to start with the ///M, one is either already there, or it is a better basis to build even better from, and with a net lower cost [excluding/discounting the fact that I end up with a fresher, lower mileage car by going the Z3M route]. ... short of that it sounds like the S54 is the correct choice for my intended use - sunday morning corner eater.... which is also where the Elise came into the picture.

  20. #70
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    M's are the same all years

    Cheaper to start with an M if you want M suspension too. Trailing arms alone sell for like $600 these days, diffs $500+...

  21. #71
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    If you are in market for a roadster, later S54 M Roasters came with M Coupe springs which were a bit stiffer.
    Last edited by nevan; 10-10-2018 at 09:04 PM.
    2003 330i Titanium Silver / Black
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  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by nevan View Post
    If you are in market for a roadster, later S54 M Roasters came with M Coupe springs which were a bit stiffer.
    Interesting factoid - any idea of an after a certain build date? Thanks.

  23. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by zellamay View Post
    S54 vs S52 supercharged? I tried to steer this into this question, got one response, so ... if I have an S52 Z3M, and I have $5k to spend on it, do I sell it and buy an S54 or buy a supercharger? I like my car, am used to it, know what it has and needs, so I'm prone to keep it. On the other hand, I've had enough experience with hot-rodding to know that it always seems easier before you do it. .... thoughts?
    I lucked out and got a used stage 2 blower setup for $1800. I was up and running with a mix of my labor and shop labor all in for about $3k. I showed 160whp gain on the same Dyno na vs boosted. I was about 100whp out on a stock s54 for less money than having bought an s54 vs my s52. No regrets. Now if my car died and I took the insurance check I'd boost an S54 as the price Delta today is less of an concern.

    '98 Dinan/RMS stage 2+(VAC cams, CES Cutring etc)
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  24. #74
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    My vote is for the S52 ///M supercharged... Totally different animal. However, just dropping in a 3.38 or a 3.46 diff can make a huge difference in a NA S52. If you swap to a 6 gear trans, or euro 6 gear trans even better, then you are really tuning the S52 (and maybe even the S54) the way the car should have come from BMW in the first place...
    • Dinan ISR-3 kit, Dinan Vortech V2 Supercharger, Dinan Air to Air Intercooler, Dinan 10 psi Tune, Dinan CAI, Dinan 4.0 Bar FPR, Dinan HFM, Dinan 3.38 Diff, Dinan front/rear Swaybars, Dinan springs, Koni Yellow Sport Struts, Ground Control end links, South Bend Clutch Stage 3 Organic, AASCO Light Weight Flywheel 18.5#, Zionsville Radiator & Oil Cooler, Riot Racing BBTB, Schrick Intake Manifold, 38# Injectors, Kenne Bell BAP, Bailey Diverter Valve DV30, Strong Strut Aero Ducts, Ireland Rear Subframe Bushings, Mason Engineering Strut Brace, Rally Road Trans brace, Mason Engineering Clutch Petal, Apex 18" EC-7 Wheels, Full Custom Sound System, Hardtop, Trunk full of AK's...

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmushial View Post
    If I might: can I ask about the suspension of the 98-00 vs 01-02's - my impression is they're the same - is that correct? Or the actual question: given equal tires, struts/shocks/ alignment, and in a non-hp/torque limiting situation: are they the same? ... part of what's leading me to this larger Z3M question is: do I take an existing Z3 I own - therefore no out of pocket cost - rebuild it, seriously upgrade suspension - do I end up at a Z3M in terms of handling? My impression is: yes one can get there; but to start with the ///M, one is either already there, or it is a better basis to build even better from, and with a net lower cost [excluding/discounting the fact that I end up with a fresher, lower mileage car by going the Z3M route]. ... short of that it sounds like the S54 is the correct choice for my intended use - sunday morning corner eater.... which is also where the Elise came into the picture.
    There seem to be plenty of people who have taken non-M and upgraded to a great handling car. Thinking Eric Peck in particular. You would need their input as to cost and hassle considerations.

    As far as S52 vs S54, I had an S52 with the Dinan package - intake, throttle body, MAF, tune - so it had more oomph than stock. First drive in S54 the butt dyno did not see a big difference. But I liked DSC vs ASC and the higher revving motor. I have been driving the S54 Coupe as my daily for the last 11 years. It is much modified and is still great around town, on the highway, at an HPDE or autocross. And was a great conversation starter when I would pick up a Fortune 500 exec for lunch.
    Bill
    2002 M Coupe. Steel Gray/Black.

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