Alfred Hitchcock may have wanted you to Dial M for Murder but if the price is right you might just want to dial up today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Z4 instead. It’s been M-massaged, but is it too murdered out for your tastes?
I don’t really know why it is, but people really seem to fight the prospect of driving a minivan. Let me tell you, it’s not that bad. I mean, it’s not like you’re being forced to use an urban bus station restroom, or read Stormy Daniels’ unabridged tell-all.
We tried to overcome that irrational aversion yesterday with what’s arguably one of the coolest vans out there—a 1992 Nissan Caravan Limousine. That bus was so luxuriously appointed in back that it actually featured power curtains and a chandelier. Those odes to extravagance seemed to do the trick, and despite the Nissan’s undeniable minivan-ness its $14,000 price tag won the day with a razor-thin 50.6% Nice Price win.
We can’t bask in that Nissan’s accomplishment however, because we now need to move on to something perhaps a little more universally appealing—that being a small two seater roadster with a hot mill.
The straight six-powered sports car is an historic automotive trope. The melding of lightweight and fling-agble chassis with an also light but torquey and smooth inline six spans both borders and time, and encompasses some of history’s greatest sports cars.
Jag did it with the XK series, Datsun with the Z, Mercedes the SL, while Toyota served us up the Supra. BMW, not wanting to ever leave any micro-niche unserved by a Roundel-wearing vehicle, gave us the Z3 and later Z4.
The Z4 is interesting on a number of fronts. First off, like the Z3 it was built, not in Germany, but in BMW’s Greer, South Carolina plant. USA! USA! USA!
It’s also a Bimmer from the Bangle era which means its bodywork exhibits that designer’s trademark, which he dubbed “Flame Surfacing.” The rest of the world dubbed it questionably attractive, and the company slowly backed away from the look over the course of a few years and model cycles. It’s been over a decade now since the Bangle era. What do you think, have your opinions of his designs mellowed with age?
This 2006 Z4 M Roadster is full Bangle and then some. The E85 was perhaps the company’s most fully realized interpretation of the Flame Surfacing trope and… well, it can be polarizing. It’s especially so around the back where the boot lid pinches to a crest over an ungainly hump, making you wonder—is it really supposed to look like that?
The car’s claimed performance may make you forget the debate over its visual aspects as this car is an M. That’ performance is made by an S54B32 six, which was factory spec’d at 330-horsepower and 262 lb ft of torque. Appreciatively, it’s backed up here by a Getrag six-speed stick.
The S54 engine comes with an iron block and an alloy head, the latter featuring BMW’s Double VANOS variable valve timing and a cocktail party factoid-worthy 11.5:1 compression ratio. That makes the car good for zero to sixty runs of under five seconds. The rest of the chassis should be equally up to the task as the M enjoyed upgrades to the suspension, stouter subframes, and a more precise hydraulic rack and pinion in place of the lower echelon Z4’s electric unit.
This one comes with all that, plus a new rear exhaust and some Varrstoen wheels that are deeper dished than those bowls of chunky soup that Chicagoans try to pass off as pizza. Up front the car sports an aftermarket front bumper (looks to be Duraflex), and the whole thing’s been dropped as people are wont to do.
The car comes in black over black over black and with just under 120K on the clock. The ad notes a schedule of regular maintenance with oil changes every 5K. The title is clean and the ad features the car in some artsy-fartsy poses so you know the seller is serious about presenting it in a good light. He also notes in the ad that this is a ‘very simple car.’ That is something I don’t think I’ve ever in my life heard in reference to one of BMW’s S54-powered models. Maybe he’s a quantum physicist or someone who has cracked the code of when is the best day to buy airline tickets and because of that this car’s complexity pales in comparison.
For the rest of us, a performance BMW with a decade-plus of use and wear can be a daunting proposition. We would naturally show some trepidation at paying too much for such a beast, lest we deplete the funds for any future work necessitated by the car’s inherent M-ness.
This Z4 M asks $12,500, and honestly, I’m not sure where to land on that price. If it were the far more rare coupe then I think it would be a no-brainer, but the Roadster? I just don’t know.
Fortunately I know you’ve go my back here, fam. What do you think, is this seemingly well-loved M Roadster worth that $12,500 asking? Or, is this a Z4 that you would show the door?
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