Easily one of the most controversial looking cars to ever come from Munich, the BMW Z3M Coupe has a love-it-or-hate-it persona. Yea those who love it really, really love it and are willing to pay simply ridiculous amounts of money for a good example. A lot of that is because of its incredible performance but a lot of that is also because of its story.
Back in the late ’90s, it’s said that BMW engineers were working on the Z3M coupe in secret. While that could just be engineering lore, we like to believe it’s true. In a nutshell, BMW engineers took a BMW Z3 roadster and bolted a roof to it, to increase torsional rigidity. Then, in went BMW’s S52 engine, the 3.2 liter 240 hp (for US, EU got 317 hp), a five speed manual and some M suspension and chassis bits. It was almost like a Frankenstein of a car, and it showed.
It instantly divided the BMW engineers from the BMW brass, as the former wanted to develop it and the latter did not. However, thankfully the engineers won that argument and BMW did put it into production. It instantly divided the public, just the same way. Some loved it and some hated it, but most people hated it. That’s why BMW only sold 2,180 of the S52-equipped Z3M Coupe’s between 1999 and 2000. In 2001, BMW shoehorned the S54 engine from the E46 M3 into the Z3M Coupe, now packing 317 hp around the world. However, despite gaining a better engine, BMW only sold 678 units between 2001 and 2002. Sad.
However, a man by the name of Brian Butrico is an owner of a 2001 BMW Z3M Coupe with the S54 engine underneath its hood. Most people passed on the BMW Z3M Coupe because of its strange looks. Even Butrico, who’s a big fan of the car, understands how odd it’s looks are. “Her ass is a lot prettier than her face.”, says Butrico.
But it isn’t the car’s looks that makes it so endearing. It’s the way it drives. The S54 is magnificent in the bigger and heavier E46 M3, so it’s an absolute riot in the Z3M Coupe. “Nothing beats the feeling of this S54 engine as you pass 6,000 rpm and flirt with its redline,”. We know the feeling and it is indeed a special one.
Butrico is an engineer by trade, now working for the US Army designing tanks, so he can appreciate the BMW M Coupe for what it is, rather than what it looks like. It was designed to be a driver’s car, right down to its core. There’s no superfluous luxuries or driver aids, just pure Ultimate Driving Experience. And it’s for hat reason that the BMW M Coupe is already a classic.