The 25-year import rule for cars is a regulation that allows individuals to import vehicles that are at least 25 years old into the United States without having to comply with the federal safety and emission standards. The rule was enacted in 1988 as a response to the growing demand for foreign-made cars that were not available in the US market. The rule is intended to protect the domestic auto industry from foreign competition, as well as to ensure the safety and environmental performance of imported vehicles. However, some critics argue that the rule is outdated and unfair, as it prevents consumers from accessing newer and more efficient cars that are sold in other countries.

An emission rule also prevented the BMW M Coupe and Roadster with an S50 engine to be imported into America in 1998. Instead, owners of either models were left with the less powerful BMW S52 engine. But “thanks” to the 25-year rule, you will be able to import the beautiful M Coupe and Roadster in 2024. The M Coupe E36/8 began production in 1998 and ran until 2002. To these date, despite their quirky looks, the M Coupe and Roadster are still highly coveted cars on the secondary market.

The S50 Engine

U.S. version BMW Z3 M Clown Shoe

The BMW Z3 M Coupe and Roadster was offered with two different engines, depending on the market and the production year. In Europe, the M Coupe was equipped with the S50 engine, a 3.2-liter inline-six that produced 321 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This engine was also used in the E36 M3 and the Z3 M Roadster. In North America, however, the M Coupe/Roadster had a different engine, the S52, which was a 3.2-liter inline-six that produced 240 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. This engine was derived from the E36 M3, but with lower compression and less aggressive tuning. The reason for this difference was due to the stricter emissions regulations in the US, which required BMW to modify the S50 engine to meet the standards. Rumor says that the S52 engine was also cheaper to produce and maintain than the S50 engine.

Different Driving Dynamics

We’ve never driven the European version of the Clown Shoe Z3 M, only the U.S. version. But according to some customers, the difference in engine performance had a significant impact on the driving experience of the M Coupe. The European version, with the S50 engine, was faster, more responsive, and more exhilarating than the North American version, with the S52 engine. The S50 engine could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, while the S52 engine took 5.9 seconds. The top speed of the S50 engine was electronically limited to 155 mph, while the S52 engine could reach 137 mph. The S50 engine also had a higher redline of 7400 rpm, compared to the S52 engine’s 6800 rpm. The S50 engine delivered more power and torque throughout the rev range, while the S52 engine had a flatter torque curve and less peak power. The S50 engine also had a more distinctive sound, with a deeper growl and a sharper bark than the S52 engine.

In 2001, BMW upgrades the M Coupe and Roadster with the S54 engine from the E46 M3. So it’s no surprise that the BMW M Coupe is a rare and collectible car in the European spec with the S50 engine. A total of 2,999 were allegedly built with the S50 engine, nearly 1,000 units more than the S52-powered models (2,180). The BMW M Coupe and Roadster are cars that combines style, speed, and fun in a compact package. It is a car that appeals to enthusiasts who appreciate its unique design and its powerful engine. So the challenge is on: will we be able to find a decent low miles unit and bring to the US?