For a car to become deemed a “future classic”, there’s generally a few prerequisites to be met. The first and most important one is that it must be fun to drive – if nobody wants to drive it, nobody will want to buy it. Following that: it must be important, either to the brand or to the greater automotive community. It usually helps if there’s a history behind the model. Lastly, it must be able to do something that many of its contemporaries cannot. Unrealized by most, we have an unexpected future classic in our midst today – the G29 BMW Z4 M40i.
What Makes the Z4 M40i Fun to Drive?
“Fun to drive” gets thrown around a lot when talking about anything from a Porsche 911 to a Tesla Model S – but what does it really mean? In the case of the Tesla, it’s a gimmick – acceleration that will later require chiropractic attention. The 911 on the other hand earns its badge by integrating the mechanical bits in a way that cajoles – and rewards – the gooey bits’ (read: driver) attention. The BMW Z4 M40i fits squarely into the second category.
In a world where the newest M3 weighs nearly 4000 pounds (3840ish for those keeping track), the Z4 M40i’s curb weight of around 3500 pounds means it’s a modern-day featherweight. Even better? It’s split equally between the front and rear axles – the Z4 boasts 50:50 weight distribution. With so little weight, the BMW Z4 M40i scoots to sixty in under four seconds and smokes the quarter mile in just a tick above 12 seconds. All partially thanks to familiar friend under the hood – the turbocharged, six-cylinder B58.
It’s also a bit of a hooligan; generating peak torque at a lunatic 1600 rpm, happily burbling and popping on downshifts, and loudly whomp-ing on full-throttle upshifts. The B58 is mated to the standard-issue ZF eight-speed automatic found in most modern BMWs, and it’s just as wonderful here as it is in every other application. The telepathic ZF eight-speed, combined with the rowdy and shouty B58, makes the powertrain of the BMW Z4 M40i feel genuinely thrilling.
What Makes the Top Z4 Model Important?
BMW’s “Z” roadsters have been a mainstay of the brand since the early 1990s – and have collected their own respective following. Following the legendary Z8’s styling cues, the G29 Z4 is a natural evolution of the already very good looking E89 Z4, boasting classic sports car cues that promise to age well. Short overhangs, a long hood and big wheels give the Z4 an aggressive and timeless sports car silhouette. When you consider that the chassis was developed alongside the A90 Supra, it makes perfect sense that the car had to look good.
Today, and for years to come.
The Z cars have always had a limited production schedule compared to more mainstream models like the 3 Series or X5. But the G29 Z4’s production has been one of the lowest of any Z – partially due to a shrinking market, and partially due to supply chain shortages in 2021 and 2022.
In fact, by the end of 2021 less than 8,000 examples of the G29 Z4 had been sold since its introduction in 2019. With production constraints still in effect – and a plan to reduce production even further – it’s a safe bet that the Z4 will remain one of the lowest production BMWs ever. Low production equates to high desirability in enthusiast cars, and I suspect the Z4 will be no different.
Could the Z4 M40i Appreciate?
Just like every future classic’s timeline, the BMW Z4 M40i will predictably have a few dark years of depreciation ahead of it. After a handful of years on used car lots with names like “Sub Prime Superstore” and “Wholesale Heroes”, the few remaining well-kept Z4s will very likely start going up in value. Already low production volume coupled with time means there will not be very many left – a look at the best of the best Z4s of yesteryear will mostly confirm these suspicions. The lack of a manual hurts; as does the lack of a full-blown M variant, but the fact of the matter is that convertibles are an endangered species, and the Z4 has the disadvantage of beginning life already nearly extinct.
Notably, it does lack some traditional hallmarks of appreciating BMWs – shift-your-own fun or an S-code engine, for example. Which is worrisome, until you realize it shares those traits with one of the best investments any BMW enthusiast could’ve ever made – the 1M Coupe. The Z4 M40i doesn’t enjoy the same M parts-bin benefits that the 1M did, but with a future fraught with electric vehicles, surely enthusiasts will be increasingly considering whether that really matters or not.
BMW Z4 M40i: Future Classic
There’s only a handful of convertible cars left on the market – many less if you aren’t shopping in the exotic space, and even fewer if you don’t want a Corvette or a Miata. I suspect the final United States production numbers for the BMW Z4 M40i will number somewhere at or below 6,000. For some perspective, the E39 M5 sold around 10,000 units in the US. Throw in classic sports car proportions, a BMW with an inline-six, and open top motoring and there’s no doubt about it: the Z4 M40i is a future classic.
And from the cockpit, snug in the grippy M seats and peering out over the aggressively sloped hood, wind in your hair and sun on your skin – I hope the last thought in your head is “what’s the resale on one of these?”.