Reader Submissions: Tackling The Arctic Circle In The BMW M Coupe Is A Great Idea

Tackling The Arctic Circle In The BMW M Coupe Is A Great Idea

Avatar By Ryan Argue
February 2, 2016

Photos by Ryan Argue

A little background on my car: it’s a 2001 BMW M Coupe that I bought in February of 2013, off of the original owner in San Jose. I’d been looking for one for years, and finally decided to sell my Yamaha R6 and BMW 330 and grab this one. Mechanically, it was perfect, so it was a no brainer to me. Flights were booked, my friend Greg was recruited for the drive back, and off we went! Upon arrival in San Francisco, the owner picked us up and drove us right to his place. Roughly 1,500 miles and twenty-six hours later, we were home in Edmonton, Canada.

The idea for this trip up north was born the next summer, but was pushed back a year by my dad’s desire to drive to California instead of the Yukon.  My friend Mark and I decided to tackle the Dempster the next summer.  I’d read when Car and Driver took a Corvette up the Dempster Highway, and thought that it would be a great idea to take my car up there as well. That it went basically without a hitch is, on reflection, pretty amazing.

Mark and I were easily 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) from the nearest BMW spare part. We didn’t have satellite phones, and cell phones were useless anywhere outside of a village. The car was 15 years old, and we did absolutely no preparation to get it ready: we spent a week in Las Vegas before we left, packed the car the night we got home, and left four hours later. No oil change, no spare parts in the trunk, just the blind, and perhaps a little stupid, faith that it would get us there, and that we would be epically screwed if it broke.

But the car was a gem. It never gave us one issue. We tagged a mountain goat on our second day, and thankfully nothing important was broken. It drew stares, questions, and all sorts of attention, with people thrilled and amazed to where we were headed. And after it was all said and done, it had no non-repairable damage. The body panels were fixed, and I proudly tell anyone who’ll listen this story; it was an adventure that’s led to all sorts of stories.

We met great people on our trip, making friends that I still have two years later. We met people that recruited us to drive in a 24-hour race the next summer, and a double 12 hour race this summer.

We’ve got great (albeit somewhat hazy) memories of spectacular scenery, amazing vistas, and enough beer to feed a small country.

We made a little bit of BMW history as well. It’s surely the only M Couple that’s ever been to the end of the road. It’s almost certainly the only Coupe that’s been across the Arctic Circle, more precisely along the Dempster Highway from the Klondike Highway to Inuvik, NWT. To many, it was the unwanted stepchild of BMW in the early 2000s…and now it’s in such high demand that my repaired, 150,000-mile example is worth pretty much what I bought if for a few years ago.

I love it. I don’t keep cars very long, but this one is different. I don’t think I could get rid of it. We’ve had too many adventures together.

Editor’s note: Though Ryan has told his story before, we thought it was too awesome not to see recounted again for Petrolicious.

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rkadamsmario berninis1973KonradArcherz Recent comment authors
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Love the Coupe !

mario berni

Looks like an awesome trip ! battle scars are cooler than garage queens . I drive my m3 basically every day , keep driving drivers cars


I bought my 2000 M Coupe back in 2001. 16 years and 90,000 miles later I still love the thing. Over the years I’ve acquired a handful of other cars that are way more expensive, some are way faster and all are considered prettier and more desirable but have never had the the urge to sell it. For all of its flaws the M Coupe is characterful in a ways that just fit me right and put a smile on my face every time I drive it…


I’ve been over the Norway’s Arctic Circle with classic soviet car and it was really great. Love those kind of trips!


I assume (being from Edmonton) the 24 hour race will be the Chumpcar a race at Castrol, and the double 12 will be the Spokane race.
If so, I will be at both those races with my team. Let me know and we can have a chat at the races! I am a M coupe fan, I absolutely love those cars, and that road trip looks like it was a great time. Nice article.

Graham Lawton
Graham Lawton

What a great story and love that you just went for it. Super Cool.

This week is all about cars I LOVE and have always wanted. BMW M COUPE, E30 M3, Alfa GTV6 and the Lotus Esprit.

What a great week so far!

Christian Peta
Christian Peta

I’ve always loved the ‘clown shoe.’ Great story.

David Ward
David Ward

I was following your epic journey about the same time I bought my coupe (summer of 2014) and thought to myself, ‘dude is crazy!’ But now that I’ve settled into ownership, I’m totally into the ‘never sell’ and ‘drive it like you stole it mentality’ with these cars. They’re meant to be driven and I intend to drive the hell out of it this summer. Hope to meet you in either Montana in July or Monterey in August, Ryan. Drive On You Crazy Diamonds!