Sports cars are becoming ever faster and more advanced, which is great, but that means they’re also getting bigger and heavier, which really isn’t great.
The BMW Z3 M Coupé stands out in the classifieds today, then, not least for its compact stature. It’s 4025mm long, 1740mm wide and just 1280mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2459mm, making it substantially smaller than today’s Z4; and it tips the scales at 1375kg so is about 200kg lighter.
Get past its oft-derided ‘clown shoe’ silhouette and you will see that it’s one of Munich’s finest products of the modern era. Packing a suitably throaty 3.2-litre straight six, it can shoot from 0-62mph in 5.3sec, with its five-speed manual transmission giving your left arm a good workout.
Its dynamic qualities are a major factor in the appeal, too. A limited-slip differential and larger brakes came as part of the M package, which also brought aerodynamically optimised door mirrors, as found on the fan-favourite E36-generation M3.
A 2001 facelift added chrome exterior trim, a third brake light and new wheels, but you will be more interested by the 63.5mm-wider rear track and the power hike to 321bhp, courtesy of the new S54 engine from the E36 M3.
Mid-range performance was substantially boosted and a new drive-by-wire throttle and dynamic stability control function improved handling, and maximum torque was now available from 1650rpm lower than its predecessor, at 3250rpm.
Some examples have barely been driven, but higher-mileage examples are better value, like the 115,000-mile 2000 model we found for £35,995.