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If the B10 3.5/1 from earlier was overshadowed by the more powerful headline-grabbing BiTurbo, the Roadster S barely emerged from under the positively giant amount of shade cast by the Roadster V8. So outraged was the enthusiast world that Alpina would yank the S62 V8 and 6-speed out to be replaced by a 540 motor and automatic that you could easily have missed the lesser Roadster on offer from Buchloe. Indeed, far fewer of the Roadster S were produced than the Roadster V8; a scant 370 are reported to have been made. In typical Alpina fashion, the S model featured engine, suspension, interior and exterior upgrades. The N52 magnesium block engine was dropped in favor of the M52 punched out to 3.4 liters, with a resulting 300 horsepower and 5 second 0-60 times. 19″ Alpina Dynamic wheels – the same ones fit to its more famous brother – filled out the wheel wells, while Alpina’s unique front and rear spoilers helped to individualize the hunkered down attitude of the E85. Replete with unique interiors and the all-important enthusiast’s requisite manual, it was surprising that more attention wasn’t levied upon them, but such was the effect of the Roadster V8. Someone was paying attention, though, because they went to great lengths to copy the S design. This is not one of the 370 original cars, but it’d be hard for most to tell:
The perfect counterpoint to the pristine Golf Cabriolet from earlier is this E85 M Roadster. Now, the M Roadster – in either guise – is not the favorite German convertible, nor is it the favorite M product. Heck, we barely have ever covered the model, either – I wrote one up 3 years ago, but this may be only the second time we’ve looked at an E85 M Roadster. Critics detest the Bangle-era styling among other things, and some will point out it wasn’t even built in Germany, as the final assembly point was the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. Excuse that for a moment and let’s consider that the E85 M might be one of the best values going in the used performance BMW market. There’s the classic Roadster recipe; two seats, front engine, rear drive. There’s the legendary S54 inline-6 under the hood, and it’s mated to a 6-speed manual. They’re rare, too as they ran only two years with some 3,041 sold in the U.S., which makes it one of the least frequently seen Ms. While not a market darling at the moment, it wasn’t terribly long ago that buyers ignored the E36/7 so there’s a reasonable expectation that they’ll appreciate. Pick up one in a great color and with low miles and it’s just about a sure bet: