1995 was an important year for BMW. It was the year that they launched their first mass-produced sports car and because of a convenient product-placement deal with the production team of Goldeneye they even managed to get James Bond to poodle around in one.
And poodle he did too because the Z3 was underwhelming. The new BMW ‘sports car’ was powered by a very humble 1.8 litre, four cylinder engine that produced a lowly 114 horsepower. You could buy a lawn mower with more pulling power. The car got slated by the press and Joe Public stifled a yawn. BMW die-hards didn’t think it was a BMW and to cap it all the Z3 was made in the US of A and not the Father Land.
The Z3’s design was also a tad contentious at the time. It seemed that the market wasn’t quite ready for such an avant garde styling exercise from conservative BMW but today the quirky shape seems to have been its main virtue and saving grace. It has aged well and might still encourage a second glance in a car park today.
The phallic length of the bonnet and the stubby rear-end was complimented by swoopy wheel arches, side-vents that imitated the gills of a shark and a comfy, tight cockpit that felt a nice place to be. The car still needed a decent engine though and quite frankly it wasn’t until the company installed a straight-six engine in 1999 that the car became an interesting driver’s car with a proper sporty exhaust note too. Especially when BMW decided to lift the 3.2 litre, 320 hp straight-six from the E36 M3 into the sporty-looking Z3 which could now sprint to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 155 mph. Enter the Z3M Roadster. That’s more like it.
Apart from the engine transplant a few cosmetic tweaks added a wider rear track, extra vents, exclusive alloy wheels and a delicious quad exhaust system. The interior had a mild-makeover too and bits of chrome were stuck on the dials plus a host of ‘M’ upgrades to differentiate the Z3M from the standard car.
The car was offered in some pretty wild colours too such as Laguna Seca Blue, Phoenix Yellow and our favourite, Estoril Blue.
So where does the car fit in with the ‘Modern Classic’ movement of 2016? Well E36 and E46 M3’s appear to have turned the corner and low-mileage examples are fetching up to £20k in decent condition. The ‘bread-van’ ZM Coupe is heading towards £40k which is remarkable because the odd hunchback-design is not easy on the eye.
The Z3M Roadster has been cheap for far too long but finding a low-mileage example right now is a tough task. These cars are pretty much bullet-proof and therefore owners tended to use them, a lot. The downside of having a great driver’s car is that you want to drive it as much as possible and therefore rack up the miles.
A budget of £10k was entirely feasible a couple of years ago but these days a low-mileage car will be just south of £20k. The Z3M Roadster has come of age and is now recognised as a truly great sports car from BMW. Its collectable status in the future is guaranteed and prices will only go one way from now on.
So how about a 1999 example with only 62,000 miles on the clock finished in Estoril Blue with two-tone blue leather interior? We have been asked to find a new owner for a particularly well cared-for example with excellent service history (BMW and specialist) and unusually the car has had only four owners from new.
The car has only just received a major service plus MOT and all four alloy wheels have been refurbished. You can buy this car for £15995 today which considering the low mileage looks like a great investment.
For further details or to arrange a viewing of this original Z3M Roadster give The Car Spy a call on 01892 506970 or email email@example.com