Courtesy of Bonhams
Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in 2002, the Z4 roadster replaced the immensely successful Z3, the “retro” styling of which recalled BMW’s fabulous “328” sports car of pre-war days. More sharp-edged than the Z3, the Z4 nevertheless kept its predecessor’s proportions and overall look while having a slightly increased wheelbase and track. Beneath the restyled sheet metal was a new multi-link rear suspension, borrowed from the 3-series, together with speed-sensitive electric power steering, both of which represented advances over the Z3. Initially, there was a choice of only two engines, both inline 6s: a 2.5- and a 3.0-liter. In 2006, a fastback coupe, with Zagato-esque double-bubble roof, was added to the range, coincidentally with the arrival of higher-performance Z4 M models. The “M” refers to BMW Motorsport GmbH, the German manufacturer’s competitions department, which since the early 1980s has been developing its own distinctive “M-Power” brand of performance-enhanced luxury models. Both the Z4 M roadster and coupe were powered by the award-winning 3.2-liter S54 straight-6 engine, which in European models delivered a maximum output of 338 hp. Other changes to the “M” models included a wider front track, revised front suspension, wider tires, revised steering geometry and the reversion to hydraulic power steering. BMW claimed a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h) for the Z4 M. A model surely destined for “highly collectible” status in the future, this BMW Z4 M is finished in black metallic with matching interior and has covered only some 61,000 kilometers from new. The Z4 was last serviced on March 15, 2017, and is presented in a condition commensurate with such careful and sparing usage.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe
Years Produced:2006–08
Number Produced:1,815 (North American sales)
Tune Up Cost:$300
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side door pillar
Engine Number Location:Right-hand side of the block below the headers
Club Info:BMW Car Club of America
Alternatives:1997–2002 BMW Z3 M Coupe, 2009–16 BMW Z4 E89, 2019–20 Toyota Supra

This car, Lot 230, sold for $31,570 (CHF 28,750), including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ The Bonmont Sale in Chéserex, Switzerland, on September 20, 2020.

The funky BMW Z3 M coupe (see Next Gen Profile, February 2017) has attained cult status among fans of the Bavarian roundel, but many buyers overlook the follow-on Z4 M coupe, which was more gracefully beautiful. Back in 2017, we noted that there are no fence-sitters when it came to the Z3 hot rod; its shooting-brake roofline either attracts or repels. The Z4 M coupe has none of that controversy, as pretty much everyone agrees that this is a great-looking car.

The stroke of the master’s pen

The basic lines of the Z4 were imagined and codified by BMW’s Anders Warming in the late 1990s, and the Z4 coupe, featuring a traditional fastback roof, was drawn by designer Tomasz Sycha of Poland. The E85 Z4 platform departed entirely from the design language of the Z3, opting for a longer hood that would have been at home in the 1960s, but with bold cut-lines suitable for the first decade of the 21st century. You don’t have to squint to compare the Z4 coupe to an Aston Martin DB6 or a Ferrari 250 GTO. It even came with a Zagato-style double-bubble roof.

BMW manufactured the Z4 exclusively at its American factory near Spartanburg, SC. Over the three years the Z4 M coupe was made, a total of 1,815 were sold in North America, along with 2,470 for the rest of the world. Although the coupe had dramatically better aerodynamics, more chassis rigidity and stiffer suspension than the Z4 M roadster, the ragtop was more popular, selling 3,042 in North America and 2,028 elsewhere. Also worthy of note, BMW offered a Z4 3.0si coupe with basic Z4 underpinnings. They sold 2,104 of those, of which just 848 were equipped with a manual transmission.

Performance to match the pedigree

The Z4 M coupe had the performance bona fides to complement the promise of its racy bodywork. The best part is that the 3.2-liter S54B32 engine had already seen service in the E46 generation of the M3 (see “Affordable Classic,” p. 44) for six years when it was dropped into the Z4 chassis. BMW showed deference to the M3 by rating the Z4 M coupe (and its roadster stablemate) at 330 horsepower, which was three fewer ponies than the U.S. market M3 of the same year. Torque was identical at 262 foot-pounds.

As was its habit, BMW provided only a 6-speed manual transmission for the Z4 M. Rowing your own gears, you can flog the car to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and continue up to a governed 155-mph top speed. Other improvements to the Z4 M line included a new multi-link rear suspension, speed-sensitive locking rear differential, a wider track than the base Z4, and the upgraded brakes from the E46 M3 Competition Package.

The result was a car that cornered flat, had grip like an orangutan, and offered plenty of scoot. The limited-slip diff allows the M coupe to put all its power to the pavement. Because the Z4 M coupe weighs 500 pounds less than the E46 M3, the Competition Package brakes are more than adequate for any track session or winding mountain road.

Finding a fair price

With comparatively low production and predictably high owner loyalty, the challenge is finding a Z4 M coupe to buy. Few of this breed have found their way to the major auction houses. Bring a Trailer has been the venue of choice for most sellers, with 19 transactions ranging from $22,473 to $52,860 over the past year. Most sales have hovered around $30,000. By comparison, the 3.0si coupe usually trades closer to $15,000. The Z4 M roadster also trades lower, rarely peaking over $25,000.

BMW included four years of scheduled maintenance in the purchase price, so there’s a good chance any Z4 M coupe you choose will have been cared for to a point.

Our subject sale is one of the 2,470 Z4 M coupes sold on the world market, this one in Europe. With about 38,000 miles, this car should have been a bit cleaner than it was. The seller didn’t even bother to vacuum the floor before taking the auction photos, and the engine bay bears the telltale stains of a quick spritz of Armor-All rather than a careful detailing. Still, the car was generally in the kind of condition you’d expect for a well-kept BMW M sports car, and the final price of $31,570 is actually right at the peak of the bell curve for the American market. Perhaps the seller could have done a little better at BaT, so we’ll call this one well-bought.

Looking at the market, however, one message is clear: The Z4 M coupe is a collectible that’s about to hit its prime. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

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