Clown Commuter: 2002 BMW Z3 3.0i Coupe

So you want an affordable, distinctive yet practical car for your daily commute? Yesterday I suggested there might be more fun to be had for less money than the Golf Harlequin. Well, here it is: the Z3 3.0i Coupe. While the ‘clownshoe’ isn’t quite as spacious as the Golf, it does add a dose of practicality to a fun-to-drive and very unusual package. But while the market focuses on the M products, the more rare to find Z3 3.0i is an affordable option that will help you stand apart from the crowd.

Produced in Spartanburg in February 2002, this Topaz Blue Metallic example has seen better days, it’s got quite a few miles, and it’s an automatic. But that means it’ll be about as cheap as a clownshoe comes. Is it worth the price of admission – or, at the very least, is it worth the savings over a M?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW Z3 3.0i Coupe on eBay

2000 BMW Z3 Coupe

So much attention has been levied upon the BMW M Coupe that it’s easy to forget there was a non-M version of the E36/8. Equipped with the grunty, 190 horsepower dual-VANOS 24 valve M52/TU in front, a manual gearbox in the middle, and a standard sport differential in the rear, the Z3 Coupe offered high fun factor that wasn’t really present at the original launch of the model. The M52/TU lightened the load as well, swapping the M50 iron block for an aluminum one also seen in the contemporary E46 model. That was coupled with the dynamic shape of the “Clownshoe”; polarizing in looks, but hardly forgettable no matter your opinion. These have become niche cars that buck the traditional SUV-laden commute, yet are reasonably affordable and eminently practical as a daily driver:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW Z3 Coupe on eBay

2002 BMW M Coupe

Following on to the 1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe we saw earlier in the week, here’s a car at the other end of the E36/8 production run spectrum, the 2002 M Coupe. Enthusiasts know these are the ones to get, as the late model M Coupes are packing the desirable S54 engine. This example for sale in New Mexico is one of the few made without the sunroof, sure to please those looking for a track day hero.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 BMW M Coupe on eBay

1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe

For those bewildered at the fact that M Coupe prices are skyrocketing, here’s a pleasant surprise. A Z3 coupe with a 5-speed manual for right around $10,000. While it has over 100,000 miles on the clock, it looks tidy enough. It might not have the grunt of the 3.2 liter inline-6, but the 2.8 liter engine with its 190 horsepower is certainly no slouch in such a small package. This example for sale in Houston may be unassuming in Arctic Silver over black leather, but one go in the twisties will have doubters signing a different tune.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe on eBay

2002 BMW M Coupe

Since red is a traditional Christmas color, I figured we would search out something extra special in that hue today. This 2002 M Coupe for sale in New Jersey is one of those 678 M Coupes to have the S54 engine under the bonnet, showing just under 22,000 miles on the odometer. I always marvel at cars like these which seemingly escaped the watchful eyes of the bean counters in accounting to wind up on the showroom floor. At a time when crossovers are proliferating the BMW lineup, it’s nice to look back at some cars that made this company’s bones as a car for driving enthusiasts.

Click for details: 2002 BMW M Coupe on eBay

2001 BMW M Coupe

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Another week, another S54 powered BMW M Coupe. As a follow on to the 2001 M Coupe that Rob featured two weeks ago, here we have a similar vintage M Coupe with less miles wearing the it’s original equipment alloy wheels. Just over 1,000 S54 engined M Coupes were produced, with 678 making their way stateside between 2001 and 2002. Fewer modern cars have had the collectability factor that these Bimmers had out of the box. How high will values go? That remains to be seen.

Click for details: 2001 BMW M Coupe on eBay

2001 BMW M Coupe

The BMW M Coupe is a perennial favorite of ours here at GCFSB and for good reason! It follows a tried and true formula to produce an enthusiast’s dream: take a small car, in this case a roadster with the addition of a fixed roof, throw a wonderful engine in the front, and mate that to a manual transmission delivering power through the rear wheels. The results were tremendous. The original M Coupe always has possessed something more. It’s shape – typically referred to as a shooting brake, though lovingly also called a clown shoe – gave it an additional character that produced a delightful synergy between the car’s performance and its appearance. It’s never really been considered pretty, it’s almost over-the-top muscular and bulging, but it has a purposeful aggressive look that is no-nonsense and, dare I say, energetic. There is just no mistaking the purpose of the M Coupe and they truly are wonderful examples for enthusiasts to enjoy. With the additional power of the S54 engine they have become incredibly desirable. Here we have just such a beast: a Black over Tan 2001 BMW M Coupe, located in Chicago, with 67,652 miles on it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW M Coupe on eBay

1999 BMW M Coupe

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I love the E36/8 aka M Coupe aka Clownshoe, and clown shoes are best in red, right? This beautiful Imola example has just 73k miles and has been well cared for by 3 owners. The previous owner addressed the well-documented potential rear subframe weld issues, and the only updates are light enough to not even be called modifications – air filter, headlights, stainless steel clutch cable, etc. It’s not quite perfect but pretty close, with a few minor scuffs and dings. It’s a 1999 model, meaning it has the 240hp S52 instead of the later S54 monster, but that’s mattering less and less these days and the prices of both head north.

Click for details: 1999 BMW M Coupe on eBay

Feature Listing: 1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe

I always felt a bit sorry for the BMW Z3 Coupe. It was introduced at a time when an M version arrived alongside of it and not surprisingly, it was the Motorsports version that made the bigger splash in the market. Even that car was at first a bit misunderstood, with some critics deriding the looks but others shining on to the performance it offered. The M Coupe has reached air-cooled 911 levels of popularity at the moment and as such, the Z3 Coupe can only stand to benefit. This early production Z3 2.8 Coupe comes to us from our friends at Sun Valley Auto Club and looks quite attractive in silver over red leather, with the desirable manual gearbox. If the M Coupe is a little bit rich for your blood, try this lite version instead.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 BMW Z3 2.8 Coupe at Sun Valley Auto Club

2002 BMW M Coupe

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After seeing the sweet deal on the Canadian BMW M Roadster, I got all S54-loopy and started looking at clownshoes. This is a dangerous hole for me, as it’s still one of the few cars (the E39 M5 being the other) that I pass on the street and think “hmm… that’s almost cool enough to supplant the E28 M5…” While the roadster was a steal for roughly $20k with just over 30k miles, this seller is capitalizing on the double-rare hot stuff that is the final-year, S54-powered ///M shooting brake. 50k miles is still quite low, but they’re asking almost twice the price of the Canuck. What do you think… down payment on a future classic, or speculative lunacy?

Click for details: 2002 BMW M Coupe on eBay