Having something missing from your nose ruins your reputation. Just ask Daniella Westbrook. The BMW Z3 suffered too. Like that woman from Eastenders, it will always be known for having a bigger gap in its hooter than it should have done – too many of them were fitted with diddy 4 cylinder engines that left the swooping, lusty looking nose completely empty. Even now, the Z3 raises more of a smirk than a smile. But there’s one model that never suffered Westbrook-nosehole-itis – the Z3 M Coupe. Its nose equipment was perfect…
Behind the kidney grill nostrils is a 321bhp straight six borrowed from the E36 M3, giving 0-62mph in a twitch over 5 seconds. Yes, you could get the same engine in a Z3 M Roadster, but with its Westbrook reputation you just wouldn’t. The M Coupe version’s roof also gave it a more rigid structure and tighter drive than the roadster; let’s not forget that the rear suspension can be traced back to the E30 from the 1980s. Sophisticated? No. Ball rupturingly brutal? Yes.
And now they’ve basically stopped depreciating. From as little as £8k, you can pick up a reasonable example of one of the early 98/99 cars with around 50k on the clock. And you’d be a happy person if you did just that. But just a little knowledge goes a long way. And we have just a little knowledge…
First up, the Z3 M Coupe had a facelift in Spring 2001, where it gained 4bhp, standard traction control, better brakes and a tyre pressure monitor. By the books, the extra 4bhp also knocked a whole tenth of a second from the 0-62mph time, bringing it down to 5.1 secs. Clearly worth getting a facelift model if you can afford it then… bank on about £12,000. They stopped building them in 2002 – the last models are the priciest, heading up towards £20k for specced up minty treats.
There are a few little niggles to look out for too. An over-enthusiastic yump down a particularly bumpy road can make the car bottom out, with the fuel tank being the first to take a hit – have a look underneath the boot and check there isn’t any damage.
Also, just like a lot of BMWs, the Z3 M Coupe can munch through front suspension components like bushes and ball joints – check the steering feels as tight as it should and there aren’t any devious clonks. A receipt for front suspension work would be a nice find, and a full service history an essential one. The interior isn’t as smartly crafted as current BMWs, so keep an ear out for squeaks and rattles that might drive you slowly insane.
You could buy a more practical E36 M3 for less money and similar speed, but don’t. You’ll look like you’ve nicked it. Or you could get a Z3 M Roadster and drop the roof when its sunny, but don’t. You’ll look like Daniella Westbrook. Get a Z3 M Coupe, lark about for a year, then sell it for the same price you bought it. It’s brilliant and you nose it.