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The BMW Clownshoe Is Absolutely a Future Classic

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author photo by Will Kinton January 2017

While the defining car for BMW in the early 2000s was probably the E46 M3, the real future classic of that era (aside, of course, from the already-classic Z8) is unquestionably the Z3 Coupe -- better known to enthusiasts as the Clownshoe. Since the rare M-badged variants of the Z3 Coupe have already climbed in value, the lower-specced models are poised to pop as well, especially since only 4,929 Clownshoes were ever sold in the U.S.

As you might've guessed from its nickname, the most polarizing -- and distinctive -- aspect of the Z3 Coupe was its styling. In order to increase structural rigidity, the Clownshoe was designed as a shooting brake, with a rear end that's more hatchback than coupe. While many people initially thought the Z3 Coupe was incredibly ugly, the styling has aged gracefully, and it's becoming more desirable by the minute. I mean, who can deny the beauty of those fender flares?

The Clownshoe's performance was excellent, too. Clownshoe models built between 1998 and 2000 were available with either a 2.8-liter inline 6-cylinder, which produced 193 horsepower in the standard Z3 Coupe, or the 3.2-liter straight 6-cylinder from the E36 M3 that produced 240 horsepower in the M Coupe. An updated version was released in 2001, which saw the replacement of the 2.8-liter base engine with a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder that was good for 230 hp. In the M Coupe, the E36 M3 engine was replaced with the S54 powerplant from the E46 M3 -- resulting in more than 320 hp. Considering all variants of the Z3 Coupe weighed between 2,866 and 3,031 pounds, that power was more than enough, even in the early 2.8-liter model.

As I mentioned before, the Z3 Coupe is rare: Only 2,071 standard coupes and 2,858 M Coupes were sold in the U.S. between 1998 and 2002. Of those, only 678 were equipped with the ultra-desirable S54 engine, which is the smallest production number of any non-special-edition BMW. Furthermore, given the lightweight, rear-wheel-drive car's tendency to oversteer, many have likely been crashed over the years. The result is simple economics: Supply is going down, and demand is increasing, so prices have started to rise.

The S54 M Coupes are already commanding a premium, with some pristine examples selling for as much as $50,000. On Autotrader right now, there are 14 Clownshoes for sale across the country with an average price of $21,782. When you compare that to the 246 Z3 Roadsters for sale with an average price of $8,499, you can easily see the trend. Buy now, or forever hold your peace!

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The BMW Clownshoe Is Absolutely a Future Classic - Autotrader