PH buying guide: BMW Z3 M Coupe
Mad looks, lairy handling and rare with it, the Z3 M is an acquired but tempting choice
Sales started in 1998, with a UK list price of £40,595, and production was completed at BMW’s factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, making the Z3 M the first M car to be built outside of Germany. However, the engines and gearboxes were assembled in Germany and shipped as a whole to the USA for final assembly.
As the last Z3 M Coupe rolled off the line in 2002, this rare coupe is now at least a decade old and its popularity is undiminished among the faithful. This has kept values of the Coupe strong, with high mileage examples selling from around £9,000 and the best achieving £20,000. Roadsters start at £6,500 and top out at £13,000. With only 821 of the earlier Z3 M Coupe made in right-hand drive and a mere 168 of the later S54-engined model, rarity will only see Z3 M Coupe values increase.
(Editor's note: We hope this new Z3 M Coupe 'knowledge bank' will attract contributions from current and past owners, and anyone who knows these cars well. If you have something to say that will help fellow PHers, please add your comments to the forum thread in the relevant section below.
on the moment I have the big daddy the Hartge Z3 coupe 5.0 wich is awesome
Z3 M coupe, how many of each version were produced?
ECE S50 (LHD): 2,178 built from 04/98 thru 06/2000
>>>UK ECE S50 (RHD): 821 built from 08/98 thru 06/2000
>>>>>USA andere motor, minder vermogen >> NA S52 (LHD): 2,180 built from 07/98 thru 06/2000
ECE S54 (LHD): 281 built from 02/2001 thru 05/2002
>>>UK ECE S54 (RHD): 168 built from 02/2001 thru 05/2002
>>>>>USA NA S54 (LHD): 690 built from 02/2001 thru 05/2002
I have to say though, they drive better (more rigid/stiff) then the M roadster
but sadly they used (all Z3) the old type rear suspension and the diff hanging on one ear on the left side, so its never in good balance roughly speaking, its pulling a bit harder on that side at the chassis and spring( when you look at it clearly), but the ride is very good, best M car, classic looks timeless and rare.
I've had many cars, this car (M coupe) is the best all rounder (when you don't have a family ) and money wise spoken ofcorse.
secondhand rear lights red/white are sadly very hard to find...they are completely different then those from the roadster.
The S54 bugbear that's much discussed is the bearing shell issue - Z3 M Coupe weren't subject to the service bulletin that refitted the questionable parts on early E46 M3s - bought the kit and had my independent do the work for me for piece of mind along with the camshaft bolts (which are starting to appear as an issue on some S54s) as I'm keeping the car long term.
Mine was an absolute hoot around the Highlands earlier this year. I have no idea what I'd buy to replace it for the same rarity and performance at the same same sort of price tag.
The z3mc is starting to really show its age now, which is fine if you like the classic thing but it's well beaten on point to point performance by many cheaper modern cars. Those rear arches are superb and a great piece of engineering design though. Don't buy if you think an M car should be effortless and supreme a la M5, only buy if you want to grab it by the neck and ring it to get the best from it.
Personally, the z4mc is a worthy successor and a much much better all round machine, whilst also managing to remain raw and aggressive.
z3mc for keeping as an investment (s54 please, with sunroof and HK stereo).
z4mc for using day to day (sat nav is the main must have, no matter what the "a tomtom is better" brigade say).
As a mix of e30 and e36 mechanicals, they're pretty much bulletproof. S50 engined cars have a rattling engine note at exactly 70mph in 5th, but other than that, it's a true legend of an engine.
Traction control only showed up with the S54 lump, but the handling is surprisingly benign - in the dry at least. Understeer then leery oversteer on demand. Springs are quite soft, so the ride is truly exceptional; all four wheels also tend to be constantly in contact with the tarmac no matter how spirited the driving.
The interior, though back-to-basics is well built, and the load space huge for a two-seater. The incorporated luggage net means dogs or stuffed loads are no problem.
Any downsides? Only two I can think of:
1. No 6th gear.
2. The steering wheel - though M had yet to inherit the obesity epidemic which blighted all subsequent cars, the diameter is huge and rather vertical.
I was (and still am) devastated when my dealership totalled my car a week after production ended. The subsequent e46 M3 was nowhere near as characterful, though my 1M is proving close(r).
Yes, he was mad but I made it there and back in one piece...very quickly.
I remember getting in for the first time and turning the key, I could hear the blood pumping through my ears with excitement. The engine/exhaust combo produced a glorious sound, so much so that I drove most of the way there with the window down so that I could listen to it.
Needless to say it was brilliant on the Welsh roads, a hard ride but so well planted in the corners. The heavy clutch and short throw shift just added to the enjoyment. It felt like I was piloting the Flying Scotsman.
This car will become a classic in years to come.
Bought a TVR instead, but I still keep my eyes open for one. Maybe I'll buy one on the cheap end and run it for a year. Great looking machine, see nothing like it really now!
I swear it was quicker than the 993
Sitting effectively over the rear wheels gave a great feeling of direct contact with the tarmac.
I always felt it wanted to kill me though, threatening snap oversteer especially in the wet, fantastic....a likely case of too much speed and not enough talent
Swapped for an integrale evo 1 which I still have and adore