Four years ago, when PH first published a BMW Z4 M buying guide, a good car be had for under £15k. To some extent that stands true today, with two of the ten cars presently on PH ducking under the mark to provide brilliant access to a coupe driven by BMW's legendary S54 3.2. There's definitely been a slow rise in Z4 M values, suggesting it's only a matter of time before its modern classic ranking is established - but we are still in a world where the coupe is genuinely attainable.
That's somewhat surprising, given that from when the model was first introduced to roads in 2006, it was a signal of real intent. The manual's demise had already begun - the Ferrari 599 was launched in '06, remember, with the manual only for a special few - turbos were becoming more comon and cars were getting ever larger. The Z4 M, however, retained three pedals by default, that wonderful M3-sourced engine and a svelte, Chris Bangle-designed body that mated an extended bonnet to a compact, muscular rear. It had presence, style and purpose, and that was just when it was parked up.
BMW's present performance straight-six, the B58, makes a decent enough noise, but the old S54 is another level for sonics. Unsullied by forced induction, the 3.2 produces its best - 343hp - at 7,900rpm, when its four tailpipe exhaust system projects the sort of silky, searing straight-six tone that BMWs were once famous for. It had no need for pops and crackles. That being said, owners who've opted to remove silencers fitted to the exhaust system have been elevated into six-pot nirvana. That the S54 pulls so sweetly through the rev range is almost an added bonus.
The 0-62mph dash in BMW's rear-drive, six-speed Z4 M takes five seconds and top speed is limited to 155mph, so it still provides bonafide sports car performance. At 1.5 tonnes it was not as light as that bodyshape might have suggested, but it doesn't seem particularly out of the ordinary by today's standards (given the current Toyota Supra - effectively a Z4 coupe - is around the same weight).
To drive, the Z4 M was certainly at the lairy end of the spectrum - remember the Top Gear vid where it was deemed akin to a Red Naga chilli - and often firm riding, though these things are often relative. In a safe, sanitised, mollycoddled 2019, perhaps a car that doesn't suffer fools and which can be a bit of a handful might be what everyone needs. It'll be memorable, if nothing else.
So sub-£15k still feels like a great deal, although for the best examples of BMW's two-door we'd be adding a few thousand to the pot. £20k seems like the sweet spot - and it'll likely land you on the advert for today's Spotted, a stunning, well-kept 2006 car with a fair 65,000 miles on the clock. In metallic black with matching black leather inside, plus a set of those lovely lightweight M division 10-spokes, it's as smart a spec we've come across. As a car only a little over a decade old there's sufficient tech on it too - which can't quite be said for the pricier Z3 Ms out there - so it's more than capable of regular use. That being said, even we'd be inclined to suggest keeping this one for fairer days. That modern classic status can't be far off.
SPECIFICATION - BMW Z4 M COUPE
Engine: 3,246cc, straight-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 343@7,900rpm
Torque (lb ft): 269@4,900rpm
First registered: 2006
Price new: £42,245
Price now: £19,995