When you notice the “M” badge on the rear deck lid or the telltale quad exhaust outlets down below, you can be sure that this is a special vehicle worthy of the Ultimate Driving Machine moniker. So how do you improve the ride and handling performance of an already fun and nimble BMW Z3 M roadster?
If you are the BMW Motorsport team, then the answer is to replace the folding soft top with a permanent metal roof. The result was a vastly stiffer structure that allowed for a revised suspension calibration and dramatically improved handling. The Z3 coupe transformation was a success, and the M division did it again for the Z4 roadster. Both are special, distinct looking and rare vehicles; can they stand up to the desirability and rarity tests and be considered collectible?
The Z3 M coupe (aka E36/8) has bold and polarizing styling, which may actually work for it at future auctions. On the other hand, the Z4 M coupe (aka E86) is more grown up and elegant. The E86 no longer offered playful Z3 colors like the Phoenix yellow or Oxford green, although the motorsport blue colors were thankfully preserved. No matter the cosmetic differences – the M force runs strong with these ones.
Both cars have the same high revving, gear slamming, and corner loving spirit. Both coupes borrowed many elite components from other M greats such as the E36 M3 and the E46 M3 CSL. Since the CSL was never officially sold in United States, the E86 is the closest mere mortals on this side of the pond will get to it. Seeing an M coupe on a regular street is an extremely rare event. You are much more likely to see them circling a race track. Ultimately, a low mileage and well kept example of either one of these coupes are highly sought after.
The E36/8 had two different incarnations: the earlier 240 hp model and the later 315 hp model. The owners of the 2001-2002 high powered model are especially fortunate because there were just 690 units built for the North American and 449 units built for the European markets. There were 5,179 1998-2000 models produced worldwide with 2,180 of those coming to N.A. All together – 3,319 Z3 M coupes arrived on these shores.
The E86 is even more rare with just 1,815 units coming to North America over a three year production run. The most rare colors were Monaco blue, Space grey, and Sepang bronze at 36, 48, and 68 units respectively. There is also a mysterious single car in Carbon black. You can see more detailed color breakdown of the E86 at this link. Verdict:
Among the recent M cars, these two-seaters stand out as particularly rare. It’s difficult to pin point their current market value because there are not a lot of examples for sale. I was able to find just a couple examples of each model and all of them on specialized enthusiast forums. The Z3 and Z4 M coupes have the needed ingredients to make them desirable future collectibles.
Andre Smirnov is a Software Engineer by trade and a life-long automotive enthusiast. On the weekends – you may find him at a car show, an auction, watching a race, or tinkering in the garage. When not working or spending time with the family – he often scours the internet and other media for various automotive, mechanical, and computer related information.