Fast and charismatic, BMW’s rare E86 Z4 M Coupé is both a comfortable sports tourer and an enjoyable track-day car. But, as Guy Baker reveals, you need to buy now before the prices shoot up!
MARKET WATCH BMW Z4 M COUPÉ E86
A CUT ABOVE Market watch; still affordable and still fun, but our advice is to buy soon!
Enthusiasm for the Z4 M Coupé has certainly been growing among BMW aficionados and, with looks that have stood the test of time well, plus that sublime S54 straight-six (the last of the naturally-aspirated M units) under the bonnet, it’s not hard to see why.
Launched in 2006 – with the BMW Z4 E85 Roadster facelift – the E86 Z4 Coupé’s distinctive profile initially received a mixed reception; while the Roadster proved to be a popular car, the Coupé was seen as less desirable and, in most guises, was outsold by its convertible sibling.
However, the Z4 M Coupé was an altogether different proposition. With the E46 M3’s 338hp straight-six engine shoehorned under the bonnet, uprated brakes, a revised suspension and a wider front track, it had enthusiasts interested. Better still, it was specified with hydraulic power steering, rather than the often-criticised electric set-up used in the rest of the Z4 range.
External changes were relatively subtle. A more aggressive front bumper with lower air dam were matched with a new rear bumper with lower diffuser, while M Double-Spoke alloy wheels and signature quad exhaust tailpipes completed the look. In the cabin, M Sport seats, a leather M steering wheel and gear knob, M instruments and sill plates differentiated the Z4 M from the rest of the range.
At the model’s heart, the special castiron block, 3.2-litre straight-six (used for extra rigidity at high rpm), was the last of the M50-derived engines, and had all the best tech thrown at it. The spec included individual, fly-by-wire throttle bodies and dual variable VANOS valve timing, helping to pump out 338hp at 7,900rpm and 269lb ft of torque at 4,900rpm. This resulted in a five-second 0-62mph time, although top speed was limited to 155mph.
Due to Z4 M’s short production life, which ended in 2008, prices nowadays are driven largely by condition, provenance and, to a degree, mileage. Fortunately, due to the nature of the car, most examples have been owned by real enthusiasts, so have been well looked after and possess good histories with documentation.
Modifications are rare and tend to be limited to wheel and suspension upgrades, as originality is key to maintaining value. “Values of used examples are increasing, with coupés tending to achieve £2,000- £3,000 more than roadsters,” reports Robert Redman, forecast editor at trade experts, Glass’s. “Currently, values range from £15,000 to £24,000, although there are some low-mileage examples at around £40,000. As demand remains strong for cars such as this, it’s a safe bet that these values will continue to rise.”
This is a view is backed up by Graham Beeson at Renaissance Classic Cars: “Residual values are on the up, enthusiasts and collectors have finally seen the light, and these cars are now in strong demand.” With a limited production run and less and less cars becoming available, prices of these little gems are only going one way: “I can see this car being the next sought-after collectors’ model. Look at what happened to the E46 CSL!”
Potential buyers must check that the essential 1,200-mile running-in service was carried out at the right time, as it has been on this impressive 2006 Black Sapphire metallic car I spotted at West Sussex BMW specialists, James Paul (jamespaul.co.uk). With 56,000 miles on the clock, this £21,990 example comes with 18in alloys, black leather upholstery, Professional sat nav, heated seats, Bluetooth, a CD player, Xenon headlights and a full BMW Service History – including that critical running-in service. You’ll find first owners tended to individualise their coupés as much as they could, with a variety of different exterior and interior colours available, including Grey Metallic. One I found at Berkshire-based Coupés and Convertibles (coupesandconvertibles.co.uk) comes with a striking Red Nappa leather interior, as well as black CSL alloys, heated electric memory front seats, park distance control, cruise control, air-conditioning (automatic), anthracite headlining, Bluetooth telephone prep and an illuminated gear knob. With only 55,745 miles on the clock, this 2008/08 Coupé is up for £22,950.
However, if you really want to get noticed, then choose a rare Imola Red car, like this 76,000-mile, 2007 minter I found at London dealer Premium Marques (premiummarques.co.uk). Advertised for £20,949, it features a black Nappa leather interior with carbon-fibre inserts, as well as all the usual, top-end spec items like Professional satellite navigation, Bluetooth, electric heated memory seats, Bi-Xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, cruise control, 18in alloys and a fully-documented service history.
Would-be buyers must check the Z4 M Coupé service book and receipts for the initial 1,200-mile running-in service – if it wasn’t done then walk away, as serious wear could result. The Getrag six-speed manual gearbox is very reliable, but the clutch delay valve can make quick changes tricky – so many owners have removed it, and the throttle system can go out of tune. But it’s easily reset.
The crankcase ventilation oil separator assembly can clog with sludge; replacing the valve solves the problem, and buyers should also watch out for cracked rear suspension springs, misbehaving windows, cracked strut braces near the top of the strut. Finally, make sure that both keys operate the central locking system.
WITH THANKS… I’m very grateful to Graham Beeson at Renaissance Classic Cars (renaissance-classics.co.uk), the BMW Car Club of Great Britain (bmwcarclubgb.uk), British Car Auctions (bca.com), Silverstone Auctions (silverstoneauctions.com), bimmerforums.co.uk and Robert Redman at Glass’s Guide (glassbusiness.co.uk), for their help with this feature
Left: ‘Individualised’ Z4 Ms, like this Grey Metallic example with its black CSL alloys and red interior at Berkshire-based Coupés and Convertibles, can make this increasingly popular model even more desirable.
The 2006 Black Sapphire Z4 M, with only 56,000 miles on the clock and a full service history, that's for sale at West Sussex-based James Paul, looks very tempting at £21,990.
A lighter-colour leather can really lift the Z4 M’s interior. This eye-catching, Imola Red 2007 Z4 M – with 76,000-mile on the clock – is for sale at London dealer, Premium Marques, for £20,949.
BMW Car retail price guide
Poor: Under £16,000
Good: £16,000 to £24,000
Special editions: Very low mileage examples can fetch over £35,000
Recent Z4 M Coupé (2006-2008) auction prices*
Model Transmission Reg year Mileage Sale price
Z4 M Coupé Manual 2006/56 33,499 £17,500
Z4 M Coupé Manual 2007/07 79,753 £15,900
Z4 M Coupé Manual 2007/07 110,970 £12,000
Z4 M Coupé Manual 2007/57 42,564 £19,100
Z4 M Coupé Manual 2007/57 59,704 £16,125
Z4 M Coupé Manual 2008/08 57,243 £16,200
*Sale prices of good-condition examples sold recently at British Car Auctions (bca.com)