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When a BMW LCI actually matters

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A whopping 66% of you would rather stash 20 GT4s as oppose to one P1. What a fun thought. This week, I’m presenting a car I thought was much more expensive than it’s become: the BMW Z3 M Coupe. It’s powered by the wrong M engine, so let’s gather another M car that shares that fate.

The 2000 BMW Z3 M Coupe vs the 2016 BMW M2

See the 2000 Z3 M Coupe listing here

See the 2016 M2 listing here

Perhaps you are asking what this pair of M cars has in common, being 16 years apart. The answer lies in what they are missing – an upgraded engine.

While the S52 powering this Z3 M Coupe is a sweetheart of a motor, I think we can all agree that given the choice, the S54-powered example that came out a year later in 2001 would be the one to grab.

It’s quite rare for BMW to switch engines for an LCI update in an M car, and they wouldn’t do it again until the M2 debuted. Originally powered by a modified N55, the M2 Competition that came out in 2019 got injected with steroids from the M4’s S55 engine.

But they do have one thing going for them: a lower price.

The 2000 BMW Z3 M Coupe

Z3 M
Estoril Blue! Photo: Cars & Bids

As far as Z3’s go, this one is pretty sweet. Stats first:

  • 123,200
  • Bid to 12,000 with four days to go
  • Wonderful Estoril Blue over Sand Beige – an MWS-approved combination
  • 5-speed manual
  • Clean CarFax
  • Mostly warm-climate owned
  • Choice mods: a cool Dinan carbon fiber intake, Dinan exhaust, and front strut tower brace
  • That S52 has 240 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque

Now this car has some flaws, like 2009 codes on the tires, dings and dents, a ton of wear on the seats, and a shifter held on with tape and dreams – but this car just needs a little love, like that girl at the bar with daddy issues you swear you can fix.

Yea well, it’s old. Photo: Cars & Bids.

And all that wear and tear should translate into a lower price. You can get some convertibles for under $15,000, but the clown shoe is much more rare. Still, I’d be shocked if this reached $25k.

Let the calendar move ahead just 12 months, and its a different tune. Any Z3 M Coupe with an S54 can command $20k more and beyond, depending upon the spec. Only you can decide if it’s worth it.

Personally, I’d have a convertible. Shocked? Don’t be – it offers a great way to hear that wonderful motor, and it’s (much) cheaper. Driving with the top down is always a thrill. Leave the M bro thumbs up for someone else.

The 2016 BMW M2 Coupe

The original M2. Photo: Bring a Trailer

Here we have an original M2 from its debut year of 2016. It’s proper Long Beach Blue, it has a manual, and it has…the wrong motor.

  • 38,000 miles
  • Bid to $29,495 with two days to go
  • Clean CarFax
  • Owned in NJ, NY and Vermont, but the underside looks free from rust.
  • No sunroof, if you like the naked look

And that’s it. Totally stock, run of the mill M2. We’re looking at low $40s for this car, and in fact they are dipping into the $30k range now.

With the Competition, it’s a different story from the Z3 M Coupe. That car never had an LCI, so it never received the styling updates the regular Z3 had. But on the M2, you had better seats, better headlights, even the M4’s carbon strut brace, to go along with that S55. Cream puff examples of Comp models are still in the low $50s. Forget about a CS version – you could buy three base M2s for the price of one M2 CS.

An M2 CS is not three times better than a base M2.

Needless to say, a CS is not three times better than the M2 you see on this page.

So which “lesser” model could you live with? Is it the Z3 M clown shoe that brings out the bro high-fives, or the M2 and its turbo torque?

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