Photos by Anthony Sundell
The E36/8 Z3 M-Coupe is definitively a “love/hate” car. Its unusual styling presents an unmatched love in the heart of some, versus a foul taste in the mouth of others. The controversial “clown shoe” shooting-brake body lines are unlike any other BMW, before and after – and it only seems fitting that such a unique car has a rather special cult following. Kacper Krajewski’s love affair is all too familiar; The E46 M3 that had sparked his love for the BMW brand fell to the wayside when the Z3 M Coupe caught his eye. Kacper left the M3, once the apple of his eye, to pursue the seductive curves of the lady in red.
The unorthodox lines of the M Coupe stem from a desire to create a purpose built “driver’s car.” The engineers at BMW banded together to design, mold, craft, and assemble what they envisioned as the Ultimate Driving Machine. The added backbone increased the stiffness of the roadster’s chassis by a factor of 2.7, transforming the little M car into one of the best-handling BMWs ever built. However, chassis rigidity alone wasn’t enough – the arches were flared out back to accomodate a massive set of tires, and the aerodynamics were improved subtly all around.
Under the hood, the BMW engineers shoehorned the M3’s inline six, giving the stubby coupe a serious bout of power. 240 horsepower for the United States version, and a staggering 320 for the European – more than was offered in the equivalent year Porsche 996. What was once hailed as a “chick’s car” alongside the Mazda Miata now stands as a true “///M” machine – burly and muscular in nature and form, shadowing over the dainty non-M counterpart.
For Kacper, the love affair with the German missile began immediately. During an outing with his M3 to a local car show, a friend’s Z3M caught his attention. “I couldn’t peel my eyes away.” Kacper began the hunt right away; however, he had some strict guidelines. The car had to have low mileage, a clean title, a perfect interior and and most importantly, it had to have a good price. Kacper’s diligence paid off after two years of searching for the right car. “I was on the computer day and night until I found the perfect one. The day that the car was posted, I walked away with the keys in my hand.”
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I even told the guy that id keep it completely stock,” says Kacper. The seller’s wishes were simple – the new owner had to put the same care in to it that he had all these years. Of course Kacper would do justice to the rather rare M coupe, but the owner refused to sell the car to someone who had intentions of modifying it. Kacper prayed to the car gods that his sins be forgiven – he ensured the previous owner that the car would be going to a good home where it would remain just as BMW had built it. The seller felt confident and off Kacper went with the car of his dreams.“The reason why he was getting rid of the car was because it was either fishing, his wife, or the car… and fishing won.”
He drove the “shoe” home with just 32,000 miles on the clock, a number that screams “weekend car” and “drive me only on special occasions.” Much to the dismay of some coupe owners, however, Kacper has stacked 16,000 miles on the car in just 12 months. “I drive the car everywhere. It’s a car to enjoy and drive as much as I can. To others it is a “classic” and should be kept away in a garage, but not me.” Kacper has driven the car up and down the east coast seven times in the year that he has owned it. “Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Connecticut. I wouldn’t want to do it in any other car. To me, it is the perfect car. I have never gotten so many looks and questions as to what kind of car it is in my entire life. It is a daily thing, there is always someone asking what it is or if it actually is a real BMW. The Z3M is just different than any other BMW out there.”
Within two weeks of ownership, Kacper was breaking the rules and began tinkering with the car, making subtle changes to improve the driving experience to his liking. His romance with the voluptuous red hatch has played out as a charming yet humorous story of a love affair between a man and his mistress, and the lies told to get his way. All that’s left is to watch as Kacper’s affair continues – and to see this lovely M Coupe continue to turn into something special.