Any 26-year old petrolhead would give his left nnn… nostril to work for one of the world’s most renowned automotive tuning divisions. A kingpin in BMW’s M division for the past 22 years, Michael Menn has been instrumental in the creation of the award-winning 3,2-litre straight six (S54) engine and the new M3’s 4,0-litre V8 (S65).4,0-litre V8 (S65).content here
By Sudhir Matai
When Menn, now 48, joined BMW’s M division 22 years ago it was the beginning of a long and successful career that has led to the creation of some of the most memorable performance engines to be produced in last few decades.
He joined M under the tutelage of legendary engineer Paul Rosche and was one of the team tasked with maintaining the 1,5-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged monsters that powered the Brabham Formula One machine of the mid ‘80s.
Since joining the M Division, Menn has been instrumental in the creation of the 2,5-litre E30 M3-, 2,0-litre WTCC-, E39 M5 V8-, E46 M3- and M3 CSL engines. That list would look pretty impressive on anyone’s CV, especially if you consider that Menn was the head of Project Management, M-engines for several of those projects.
His latest pride and joy is the 309 kW V8 powerplant of the E92 M3. When questioned on the new car and the S65 engine, Menn’s German accent lifted a touch and his eyes lit up.
“The new engine is not just a small version of the V10 from the M5 and M6. For sure they are from the same family but this engine is 50 per cent different.
“We share some parts like the pistons and connecting ‘rods, injectors and so on, but going from V10 to V8 does have many challenges.
“Before we even began this project parameters were set and we knew that the engine would have to deal with 1.3g of lateral load and we had to design the oil system with this in mind.
“We have even managed to do this with a wet sump system and not a dry sump that would add mass and is more complicated.”
The soundtrack of the M3’s seems to have divided opinions among automotive enthusiasts… There isn’t the big-belly bellow of a “traditional” V8.
Menn explained: “When we made the last engine many people said that it was too metallic, oh no, too metallic (all the while frowning and shaking his head), but today when you hear it, everyone knows that it is an M3.
“We tried to keep that noise with this car so people would know it is an M3, and didn’t want it to sound like an American V8,” he added.
When questioned about the likelihood of a hard-edged CSL version of the new car he was quite upbeat: “The old (M3) CSL model was a real success for us, so we are thinking about a CSL version of the new car as well.
“In fact the older CSL is my personal favourite M3 of all.”
So Menn is obviously a bit of an enthusiast? He smilingly responded to the accusation: “For sure, we are a company of petrolheads, which is why we love what we do. Our jobs are not very different, yours and mine, we both want to create something special, you for your reader and me for our customers.”
Based on his admission of being both an enthusiast and a driving fundi (although he played the latter aspect down), I had to ask what car he drove every day.
“My own personal car is an E36 3,0-litre (2-door) M3, which I bought 12 years ago,” Menn concluded.
It’s always an honour to meet a high-profile figure of the motoring world at a product launch (not always a given). And to top it all, it’s refreshing that he has the same high flow of fuel in his steel-braided veins as I, and many of our readers, do.
Don’t miss Sudhir’s driving impression of the new BMW M3, which will be published in the September issue of CAR, on sale August 23.
Visit our Wallpaper Vault to download a wallpaper of the M3.