Great creative expression frequently derives from the exposé of contradiction- dogs playing poker, William Shatner, Shaq movies, etc. Nice Price or Crack Pipe appreciates a creative clash of opposites, and today's blown Bimmer is about as contradictory as they come.
In mathematics and physics, a vector is described as being a quantity having both direction and magnitude. Yesterday, the Vector M12 went in the direction of Crack Pipe with a marginal 55% magnitude, despite heavy lobbying as to its demerits. That car was interesting in that it was a nominally American car, with a foreign motor appended. More traditionally, sturdy, large-bore 'Merican motors have found their way under the hoods of European sports cars, hoonerizing their performance. And that's the case with today's candidate - although, while its badge marks it as needing a work visa, it too was built in the U.S.!
When BMW debuted the Z3 in 1996, it underwhelmed with the standard fitment of an anemic 138-bhp 1.9-litre four cylinder. An answer to the success of the Mazda Miata - and the first new car built at BMW's South Carolina plant - it also took heat for its bean-counteritis which resulted in a plastic rear window, low-grade interior and E30-based trailing arm rear suspension.
Today's '97 Z3 hasn't had anything done to fix the suspension or cheapness problems, but the issue with the underpowered engine has been rectified- that four-banger has been deep-sixed and replaced by a Chevy small block. As that alone would be insufficiently extroverted, the builder has added the automotive equivalent of whipped cream with a cherry on top by bolting on a roots-type blower that punches through the hood like a baby alien through the chest of an unwitting German spacefarer. That way, not only will you be known by your skid marks (and not the kind that made 8th grade gym class such torture), but also by the high-pitched din that can only be derived through the application of mechanical forced induction. Like Lawn Darts and roosters, this would be a purchase both you and your neighbors could enjoy- especially at 3 AM.
Backing up this torque monster is a T10 4-speed so those of you who are three-pedal adverse will just have to keep walking as there's nothing to see here. After that, there's not much detail about further drivetrain modifications, and if it's still rocking the stock Z3 pumpkin and half-shafts, you'd best set up a tab at Driveshaft Depot as you'll be twisting those buggers into pretzels on a regular basis.
The Z3's clamshell bonnet appears massive when opened, but it's still surprising to find that the small-block eight fits under it. The pictures demonstrate that it does, but it's so tight a fit against the firewall that it looks like you might pop a spark plug wire off if you turn on the wipers. The rest of the car is standard 12-year old Z3 with typical of wear and tear and the need for a few cans of Krylon, so figure adding to that $20,000 asking price to make the purchase less contradictory in your driveway.
But what would you do with this if it were in your driveway? It's too crazy for Boys Town, and too much of a boy for Crazy Town. Other BMW owners would shun you, Hot Rodders would take one look at the effete little car and would make that threw up in my mouth a little bit head bob. You'd be a social outcast among either group, doomed to brodie by yourself- your parking lot donuts solitary endeavors shared only with the light-pole perched pigeons. How sad would that be?
But so what? Eff them, and eff the pigeons too, you're a lone wolf and you've got that blower to keep you company while enjoying its Mad Max cacophony every time you push the loud pedal. Who cares if it blocks your view of cross-walking pedestrians when you make right turns? If they want to live forever they should stay on their own block.
Despite being the object of their owner's derision, you'll get the satisfaction of blowing the doors off of the other Z3s, provided you stay out of the twisties. And who doesn't love that precision-cut hood opening allowing for the blower to stick through and requiring solid engine mounts to keep it from flinging the hood into the passing lane the first time you gas it? You'll get all that as well as the ability to toss a BMW key fob on the bar, eliciting a raised eyebrow of interest from status-seeking clubbers. Once you get them into the car, its over the top demeanor and your spot-on impression of Kurt Russell's Death Proof character will mean they'll never trust a key fob again. Eff them too.
So, it's a rebel and it'll never, never change. And it's that indifference to traditional boundaries that gives this car its appeal. But, that being said, would you drop twenty large to wrinkle the asphalt in this blown bimmer? Or, for that amount, is this a heart transplant you hope the body rejects?
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