1999 BMW Z3 M Coupe – Classified of the Week

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By Chris Pollitt

When the Z3 came out in 1995 the world rejoiced. It was a muscular, stocky little roadster that, if you bought it with an engine above 2.0 in capacity, was an absolute riot to drive. BMW had clearly spent a great deal of time perfecting the driving dynamics, and when the press got hold of the car, they were were more than keen to back up the work of the engineers. It was, and still is, a great little car. And then in 1998, for some reason, BMW slapped a roof on it. But not a squat, coupe roof. No, they made it look like a hearse. Or a clown shoe. That was another popular nickname for the poor thing. BMW Z3 M Coupe engine

Had BMW made this unusual body style available throughout the range, the relentless mockery would have continued and, in the case of the 1.9 auto cars, been well founded. BMW didn’t do that though. Instead, it dropped in the 317bhp straight six from the E36 M3 Evolution, along with the manual transmission. What BMW didn’t drop in, was any form of driver aid. This is just a driver, machine, and a pair of 245/40 rear meats that are more than happy to spin up. It was… it was a handful. Yes. That’s the best way to describe it.

BMW Z3 M Interior

With this amount of power, the roof started to make more sense. Not only did it stiffen up the already stiff roadster shell, it also offered a degree of safety for when you inevitably ended up in a ditch. Backwards. 

Still, even with the close M3 link, the Z3 M Coupe was a poor seller. We just weren’t ready for a car of this type in 1998. Fewer than 1,000 were sold over its production run. But then the years rolled by and the ugly duckling of 1998 started to look distinctly swan-like. Maybe it’s the mentality of not knowing what one has until it’s gone? Maybe it’s because other car designs have given us the chance to accept and even like the shooting brake arrangement of the Z3 M Coupe. Whatever it is, the car has now achieved cult classic status, and rightly so.

BMW Z3 M Coupe rear

The car here, being a 1999 model, is an example of the Z3 M Coupe at its most pure, most original. Later cars got an E46 M3 engine and fly-by wire throttle, but where’s the fun in smooth and clean power delivery? You want the hairy-chested rawness of the original, and that’s what this car, resplendent in black, offers you. And you’re not buying a car that’s been hammered, either. This car has covered a measly 13,000 miles over its lifetime. It has full history and has only had two owners. This is as close as you can get to original for the money. Yes, £49,950 is a bit keen, but trust us when we say cars like this aren’t going to get any cheaper.

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