While its compact footprint might suggest otherwise, it was technically easy for BMW to shoehorn the 3.2-litre straight-six from the facelifted E36 M3 into the Z3 M. The two cars shared a platform after all. But the Z3 M three-door was lighter and nimbler than the M3, and was no less potent. It was a true pocket rocket yet it had a silky six-cylinder voice.
It was hard not to notice the Z3 M Coupe’s inherent agility because there were no nannying electronics in the way. We need not explain the potential for on-throttle ‘adjustability’ in a rear-driven, 2.4-metre wheelbase shooting brake. In the years since the 1997 launch, plenty cars have met their demise while travelling backwards, but plenty more have provided endless entertainment for dialled in custodians. With a 5.4-second 0-62mph time and 155mph top speed the coupe is still a quick car even by modern standards.
The model’s slightly bulbous rear hasn’t always been to everyone’s taste, but, like Marmite, those who like the three-door love it. We’re firmly in that camp; the fact this car neither offers the practicality of a traditional hatchback nor the space of a proper estate is of no concern. The car you see hear highlights it: the Z3 M Coupe has a timeless silhouette that to some is BMW design at its best. It’s muscular, but not at all try hard.
Very obviously it's a model from the previous century, too, its four-metre length and 1.74-metre width giving it the dimensions of a modern supermini. The fitment of a five-speed manual gearbox and the aforementioned lack of stability systems affirm the old school approach – as does the way it goes about its business. Anyone familiar with BMW’s old S50 block will concur; this is a car that is at its best when worked hard, while being respected in less-than-ideal weather conditions.
This mix of yesteryear charm and late nineties usability means the Z3 M has long been destined for modern classic status. Now, with the final decade of new petrol and diesel car sales upon us, its status ought to be elevated further – along with the average asking price. Today’s Spotted is a brilliant example of the breed, with only 25,000 miles on the clock and an appropriately discreet specification, which contrasts Titan Silver paintwork with a red and black leather interior. It’s enjoyed a good life by the looks of things and is still in totally standard trim; even the factory-supplied first aid kit remains unopened.
The only query we have relates to the gap in this car’s service history as the paperwork takes a breather between 2004 and 2011, although it only covered a couple of thousand miles in the period. One to check for sure, but the car certainly looks the part. And while £40k is certainly not cheap, there's arguably investment potential in the increasingly rare Z3 M Coupe.
SPECIFICATION - BMW Z3 M COUPE
Engine: 3,246cc, inline-six
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 325@7,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@4,900rpm
First registered: 1999
Recorded mileage: 25,000 miles
Price new: £40,595
Price now: £39,995
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