One of the most beloved classic BMWs is also one of the ugliest, ironically. The BMW Z3 M Coupe is about as traditionally handsome as Jabba the Hutt. Having said that, what lies beneath that misshapen skin is actually quite a brilliant little car.
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In this new video from Enthusiast Auto Group, we get to take a look at a pristine model and even go for a drive with EAG owner Eric Keller.
The BMW Z3 M Coupe is a bizarre car with an interesting story. After BMW developed the Z3 Roadster, BMW M engineers saw its chassis’ potential, if only it had a fixed roof. So after developing one on the side and proving that it was a brilliant driving car, along with some convincing of the board, the Z3 M Coupe was eventually born. It was so ugly it was nicknamed the “Clownshoe” but nobody cared, as it drove brilliantly.
Under the hood of this 2002 Z3 M (the final model year) is an S54 engine, which is the same 3.2 liter inline-six as the E46 BMW M3. That means it makes about 333 horsepower and the most delicious, mechanical, inline-six noise. It’s the sort of engine that BMW enthusiasts was poetic about. Better still, that engine is mated to a proper five-speed manual gearbox and drives only its rear wheels through a limited-slip diff.
Combine that fantastic powertrain with a short wheelbase, the front suspension geometry of an E36 M3 and the rear geometry of an E30 M3, and you get an absurdly fun little car to drive. Sure, by modern standard’s, it’s steering is slow and its capabilities are low. However, once you re-calibrate your brain to older driving styles, the Z3 M Coupe is a much more enjoyable car to drive than any modern M car.
Check this video out and see one of the coolest, funkiest, most interesting and most exciting M cars ever made.