For me, the desirability of the BMW M3 peaked right around 1997 and 1998, when the M3 sedan became available in the US market. Sadly, this more practical take on the //M formula didn’t last long, nor was a four-door example available in the successor, the E46 M3. However, a curious vehicle wound up coming along right as the E36 sedan exited the market: the M Coupe. Based on the M Roadster, this two-seater sports car with a breadvan profile wound up being derided at first for its styling but has since turned into a premiere collectable. Even though the first M Coupe was a niche model, BMW decided a follow on was necessary and created the Z4 M Coupe. This car had a bit more conventional profile but packed the mighty S54 inline-6 that found its way briefly into the end of the original M Coupe production cycle. This Z4 M Coupe for sale in Texas has only 8,600 miles on the clock, giving someone the chance to own a nearly new example of what has become a rather mythical BMW model.
Two weeks ago I took a look at a rare AC Schnitzer ACS3 Silhouette 3.0, the car that predicted the E36 M3 in many ways. Schnitzer has always been a bit left field compared to the more popular Alpina, but their products are generally very tasteful and seem to be sought with equal aplomb as their arguably more famous competitors. In many ways, the same things can be said of the E86 Z4 M Coupe. It’s got all the right components to make a stellar package, but seems to be generally overlooked as a potential classic at this point. Perhaps it’s because it’s too new, or the styling is polarizing? News flash: the styling on the Z3 was pretty polarizing not that long ago, too. Just like the end of the run Z3 M Coupes, the better driving Z4 M Coupes are stylish, different, and absolutely great to drive. Couple the two of these offbeats up and you should have a great combo, right? Well…..
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 AS Schnitzer ACS4 Sport Coupe on Boston Craigslist
Something interesting is occurring in the BMW world. As the E36/8 M Coupe skyrockets in value and collectability – especially the very limited S54 versions – for some reason, it’s successor isn’t. Now, both generations of M Coupes and Roadsters are love it or hate it designs, but the early cars – even though stylistically they have some typical 90s weak spots. Those fender vents, for example, have become a cliche stick-on applique to all the best ‘hood Accords and Maximas. To me, the replacement for the Z3 was edgier but more handsome. It still looks modern and honestly I think it could reasonably still fit into the design language of the current BMWs. The M Coupe managed to escape the period which many enthusiasts characterized as the worst styling period for BMW as the Belle of the Ball. And the layout and drivetrain wasn’t updated, instead running the end of the run naturally aspirated screamer S54 through a manual gearbox and driving only the rear wheels. Only some 1,800 of them were imported to the U.S., too – guaranteeing their exclusivity, they seemed to be a natural collector status BMW right out of the box. But for many more, the E86 M Coupe was more classic GT sports car than the bread delivery van styling of E36/8. Throw in a similarly love it or hate it rare color like Laguna Seca Blue, and you’ve got either a travesty against automobiledom or a car with serious collector potential:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2007 BMW M Coupe on Craigslist
My wife and I had a rather amusing conversation yesterday. It started via text; shortly after Rob’s 2PM post on the 1988 Porsche 911, I received a text message from my wife. “How much does a new 911 cost”, she asked. Now typically I know questions like this are leading somewhere and she’s not a huge Porsche 911 fan, so after some inquiry she asked why the asking price on a 1988 example was over $60,000. She said, and rightly so, why would anyone pay $60K for a near 30 year old example – even if it was quite pretty – when you could just about buy a new car for that amount. After I said that the Porsche 911 market was the new Tulip craze, she said two really funny things. First, she said “Let’s not base our economy on it!”, something that got me laughing. Then she said that if it was so popular, why were manufacturers like Porsche building new examples of their old cars? The answer, as we discussed, was that it just wouldn’t be profitable. Though limited run manufacturers such as Singer and Eagle have seen success building “new” old cars, the reality is that between making cars safe enough and economical enough to meet today’s standards, they’d be heavy and slow – necessitating even more power, which would raise the price. Take the GT86/FR-S/BRZ clones; while critics have loved their handling and prices have been kept reasonable, they’re generally referred to as “slow” cars with 200 horsepower and 2,700lbs of curb weight – nearly identical to what the 1988 Porsche Carrera was specified at.
However, there are options outside of the 911 market for a personal sports 2-door that throwback to simpler times, and I think the M Coupe was one of the best. With a gutsy inline-6 up front, rear drive and a 6-speed manual, the E86 was a classic blueprint for a sports car. But it was modern at the same time, with over 300 horsepower from the sonorous S54 M motor and a thoroughly modern design. It was also a relatively limited run vehicle, meaning they’re rare to see. Yet, despite this they’re still relatively affordable as a not-particularly-old future classic that can be driven and enjoyed – and will likely appreciate:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW M Coupe on eBay
The E86 Z4 M Coupe is one of those vehicles I never much cared for until very recently. When it debuted in 2006 I remember being aware of its existence and that’s about it. I’d bet I’m not the only one with a story like this either, as the M was always in the shadow of the Cayman S and its design was divisive to say the least.
I think the years have been good to the car and its certainly one of the better designs from the Bangle era. Look at it long enough and lines that at first seem frivolous begin to soften and become pleasing to the eye. The most offensive visual issue I have with the E86 is that it can be kind of dorky looking from a head on perspective. The car appears oddly wide in the front before tapering off in the back. I blame this on the bulging fenders that should have housed wider wheels from the get go. I’ve seen models with staggered setups and meaty tires that properly fill the wheel wells, giving the car a seriously badass, aggressive look. Were I to get one of these getting the stance right would be thing to do right away.
Beyond getting it setup to maximize the curb appeal, there’s not a whole lot you need to do with an M Coupe. The M didn’t suffer from the much criticized electro-mechanical power assist steering like the regular Z4’s and the high revving S54 engine is the stuff of legend. Known for its durability and the noise it can create, the iron block was given one piece aluminum head castings for reduced weight, modified camshafts and 87mm bore cylinders that increased displacement to 3,246cc. Suspension wise these cars were pretty hard edged in stock form and that has always been the major gripe about it in the automotive community. Furthermore, for about the same money you could get a Cayman S, which could be optioned with PASM, allowing you to choose when you wanted to realign you spine and when you wanted a more comfortable ride. Also the Cayman S is in my opinion is a much better looking vehicle but the M Coupe does have the edge on the Cayman in one very important category, the interior.
Having test driven a 2007 Cayman S just this past week I can tell you that the seats and the steering wheel left a lot to be desired, and those things shine on the M Coupe. The wheel in the Cayman was large and thin whereas the wheel in the M Coupe is thick and just about the perfect size. The Cayman I drove did have the sport seats but they sure didn’t feel like it. I’ve only sat in the M Coupe once and boy I tell ya, those seats leave no question as to the sporting intentions of the car. I suppose that makes sense as from what I’ve read, the Cayman S is much more useable as a daily driver than the M Coupe, a conclusion that I find surprising. A Porsche that’s not as hardcore as a BMW? Just sounds wrong but the mid Aughts were a strange time for everyone I suppose.