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Buying a car from an online auction is always a gamble. But this BMW Z3 M is one example of a sought-after enthusiast car that just isn’t worth the risk. Modified with few service records and visible rust, this 1999 BMW Z3 M clown shoe is likely more trouble than it’s worth.

History of the BMW Z3 Coupe

Offered from 1996 to 2002, the BMW Z3 originally debuted as a convertible roadster to compete with the Mazda Miata. Not only was it the first BMW manufactured outside Germany, but it was produced in America at the BMW plant in South Carolina. However, the first coupe didn’t enter production until 1998.

When adapting the roadster into a hardtop coupe, BMW didn’t simply replace the cloth top with aluminum and steel. Instead, it adapted this two-door roadster into a compact hatchback while keeping the long hood. The resulting silhouette is rather unusual, earning the Z3 Coupe its nickname: Clown Shoe.

What is the difference between a Z3 and Z3 M?

As you’d expect, there are some differences between the standard BMW Z3 and the Z3M. For starters, the M version gets the S52 inline-six-cylinder engine churning out 240 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque. In 2001, the facelifted Z3 M packed an even bigger punch. The S54 engine from 2001 to 2002 developed 315 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. No matter which model you find, it’ll have a five-speed manual and rear-wheel drive.

Other Z3 M changes include a wider rear track and brakes from the E36 M3, along with a limited-slip differential. All the bits you’d expect from a proper BMW M car, all packed into a small, two-seat coupe weighing less than 3,000 pounds.

This auction BMW Z3 M Coupe is far from pristine

BMW Z3 M Coupe
BMW Z3 M Coupe | Cars & Bids

While the Clown Shoe is one of BMW’s most iconic designs, this particular example is far from collector-spec. It features the signature metallic blue, but with silver stripes that are painted on. So you’d better love them if you’re going to take this car home.

Furthermore, the car features several prominent dings, chips, and scratches that indicate it may not have been owned by a particularly meticulous owner. This Cars & Bids Z3 M shows some rusty hardware and corrosion, which is a troubling sign for a car with less than 40,000 miles. Furthermore, the last oil change indicated came in January of 2020 and the tires are from 2017.

Finally, there is a laundry list of aftermarket bits beyond the painted-on stripes. This auction Z3 M features a Dinan Supercharger and Porsche-branded front brakes. You’ll also find H&R suspension and an unnamed aftermarket exhaust kit.

In short, while this BMW Z3 M Coupe is a low-mileage example, it isn’t a high-quality one. There is a high probability that the new owner will have a wealth of deferred maintenance to take care of, so even if it sells below market, it may not necessarily be a good deal.

How much should you pay for a BMW Z3 M?

Typically, low-mileage BMW Z3 M models sell for between $35,000 and $45,000, depending on the vehicle’s condition and accessories. However, the host of aftermarket parts and lack of service records for this auction car will diminish its value.

Overall, BMW made just under 3,000 Z3 M Coupes over its lifespan. Of those, the 1999 BMW Z3 M in this auction is from the more prolific first generation. As one of 2180 North American Z3 M Coupes, it’s not an easy car to find, but it isn’t a unicorn, either. Meanwhile, just 678 models came from the second generation, driving up the value for the 2001 and 2002 models, specifically.

Is this Cars & Bids BMW Z3 M a good choice?

Considering the lack of service records and visible damage, this particular Z3 M may not be worth spending big bucks on. Deferred maintenance alone is likely to total a few thousand dollars if not more. In short, paying more than $20,000 might not be worth it.

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