BMW was on fire in the 1990s. Between some fun product placement in a handful of Bond films and making cars that truly lived up to their Ultimate Driving Machine mantra, the Bavarian brand could do no wrong. Even when it came out with its very own “clownshoe” shooting-brake body style, the E36/8 Coupe. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but what a unique creation nonetheless, including a wild M variant possessing the highly acclaimed S52 (and later S54) naturally aspirated inline-six engine.
Recently, a non-M Z3 Coupe popped up for sale in the SoCal BMW Group Facebook group for $14,999 (update: it's also on Craigslist), and what a life this one’s had. Sporting more than 165,000 miles, it shows signs of regular use that the owner isn’t afraid to highlight. In fact, it’s more of a badge of honor.
These cars are rare, and the market reflects it—the sums that very low mileage M examples fetch are pretty wild. But the non-M variant sporting a less-hot engine under its hood is more attainable.
This begs the question: Would you take a low-mileage, pampered M, or a higher-mileage non-M driver that shows strong signs of living a very happy life?
This standard Coupe’s had extensive maintenance done, appears to be very clean inside-out (with the exception of some paint blemishes from regular use), and has had a lot of quality aftermarket and OEM-plus upgrades done to it. It’s well-sorted and probably an epic amount of fun to drive. ST XTA coilovers (also known as more-affordable KW Variant 2s), Recaro seats, an OE-resembling Continental stereo, and some mild brake upgrades are just some of the tasteful mods done to it.
Not bad for less than half the price of what its M counterpart seems to be going for in comparable or slightly-worse condition. Plus, considering only 2,071 coupes and 2,858 M coupes ever saw action on our roads, it could make quite the conversation piece for years to come.