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How to spot a genuine ‘M’ Series BMW

How-To | May 31st, 2013 by 17
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For car enthusiasts, the ‘M’ badge with the BMW racing stripes is the ultimate symbol of sports performance combined with the quality and luxury that …

For car enthusiasts, the ‘M’ badge with the BMW racing stripes is the ultimate symbol of sports performance combined with the quality and luxury that one has come to expect from one of the bestselling car manufacturers in the world.
But whilst many dream of one day picking up the keys to a brand new or used BMW, many can be caught out by a proliferation of imitation ‘M’ series BMWs that are frequently seen in classifieds and on dealer forecourts.
A combination of aftermarket ‘M’ badges being freely available online and at trade shows, as well as the creation of ‘M Sport’ sub-brands, has caused confusion for some used BMW buyers over just what they’re actually parting with their money for, so how do you tell exactly what you’re buying?

How to spot a genuine ‘M’ Series BMW

Spotting an ‘M’ Car from an ‘M’ Badge

The genuine BMW ‘M’ Series cars – the 1M, M3, M5, M6 and M Coupes – are considered by many to be the last word in luxury performance motoring and the cars have both the performance and the styling to live up to that claim.
However, BMW has recently started to produce a series of ‘M Sport’ branded vehicles, designed to plug the gap between the standard models across the range and its thoroughbred M series models and compete with Audi’s ‘S-Line’ models.

However, this has blurred the lines of what constitutes a true M series for many potential buyers. The bona fide M cars are bred for pure performance and this is clear the second you open the bonnet. Whilst the M Sport models use largely the same engines throughout the BMW range, the M Series machines use bespoke engines that generate significantly more power. The E90 M3 packs a 4 litre V8 that generates 420hp whilst the M5 produces 560hp from its twin-turbo 4.4l power plant.

Styling cues will also be notable, particularly the side vents above the front wheel arches. These are distinctive to the BMW M series editions and are not available as a factory fit on any other BMW model.

Check the VIN Number

How to spot a genuine ‘M’ Series BMW

Whether you are in the market for either an M Series of an M Sport, you still need to make sure that you understand that what you are buying is exactly what you are expecting it to be, rather than a standard model that is plastered in ‘M’ badges bought from eBay or a local trade show.

You should be able to tell this from the V5/C logbook but if you don’t have access to this, try typing the VIN into http://bmwvin.com/. This handy database will tell you exactly how the car you’re interested in rolled out of the factory, making it easy to tell what has been added (or taken away) since then.

Buy from a reputable dealer

If you’re still unsure, the safest way to ensure that you are getting what you expect is to buy from a reputable dealer or from an established car supermarket. By searching at www.carshop.co.uk you can fine used BMWs near to you and ensure that what you are buying is exactly what you are looking for.

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  • TGAT

    M8???? Please post a link to a sold example of this car. If you meant 850CSi, well, I respect that car, but it isn’t an M.

    • TGAT

      Wow, that was a quick edit to remove the mistake. However, acknowledging you made the mistake is probably just as important. (Saying that as one automotive journalist to another).

      • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

        I removed it cause I wanted to eliminate confusion. There is an M8 model. I saw it first and published first photos in 2009. But I figured it’s easier to remove the M8 name than to explain the story of it and deviate from the subject.

        • TGAT

          Was it ever for sale? This article seems to be about making sure you aren’t buying the wrong car.

          • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

            Good point.

    • TGAT

      Also,you named the 1M, but not the M1.

      • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

        It was just an example. Might as well add M6 Gran Coupe now, upcoming M4, M135i, X5M, X6M etc.

        • Bcar

          M135i, X5M, and X6M are also NOT M cars. You did well! Just missed M1, M roadster, and M6 ;-)

  • Zeke

    What about debadged M’s…I debadged mine because if you don’t know what an e39 M5 is, I don’t need you to know.

    • VTEN PWR

      If you debadged your e39, then those who aren’t familiar with the car won’t spot it as easily. The same could be said for my e60 M5, but I wouldn’t do such a thing?

  • Turbonator

    Totally expected since BMW themselves started plastering the M badge all over the place. Talk about dilution of the M brand.

  • Dave

    What about the M Roadster? You left that out of the list.

  • denton

    I saw an E90 328i in NYC last week, debadged, tints, and ‘M’ logo on the back. lmao.

  • AreYouA-Mcar?

    Interesting posts. Any M-Badged unit born M is an M period.
    On the M8. I’d love to see the proof BMW AG GmbH ever built and badged a M8. It would have been nice to see but all dreams don’t come true.
    Of course, these are my opinions based on self-research.

  • Pingback: Lastest Bmw 1m News « Car News&Reviews

  • Harlequin

    Easiest way is the 3rd digit of the VIN. ALL ///M cars are “S” as in “WBS…”

  • Citizen

    Here’s the BMW ETK 2014 http://www.etk.cc/ with integrated VIN decoder. It shows full spec of any bmw car.

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