2006 BMW E86 Z4 3.0Si

THE ORIGINAL BMW ‘CLOWN-SHOE’ IS A CULT CLASSIC AND ITS SPIRITUAL SUCCESSOR IS WORTH A LOOK

WORDS & PHOTOS • ALEX AFFAT

THE ORIGINAL BMW ‘clown-shoe’ bowed out in 2002, and left behind a lasting impression.

Its unconventional silhouette, mixed with its glorious driving experience spawned a cult following.

Notoriously built as a back-room skunkworks project, BMW engineers knew the Z3 roadster was a great driving car, but could do with a healthy dose of torsional rigidity; so they stuck a fixed-roof on it, and lifted the engine from the ever-glorious E46 M3. It was a sales flop, but for those in the know it was a white-knuckle driver’s car with a better power/weight ratio than the effervescent M3 coupe.

Its spiritual successor arrived in 2005, with a visual nod back to the clown-shoe’s funky rear-cab bias.

It’s got classic roadster proportions, with a low seating position, good visibility over the swooping bonnet, and a stout wheelbase, wide track and short overhangs fore and aft.

Upon launch, BMW spoke of the M-badged Z4 as a proper 911 rival – a bold claim for any car.

While this isn’t the Z4M, the 3.0lt straight-six seems right at home in the tight and taut chassis.

It’s not as brash as the uprated M-car, but the silky-six is still capable of 194kW and 315Nm – and a 0-100 sprint of 5.7 seconds.

If anything, it’s a more useable package than the white-knuckle M-car, with the rev-happy engine constantly encouraging you to ring out every gear.

Lorbek Luxury Cars in Melbourne is where you’ll find this 224,436km automatic example, with a price of $19,990.

For the dollar, maintenance records depending, this is an attractive sports coupe with massive amount of driver’s appeal, and a worthy nod to one of BMW’s most acclaimed yet forgotten models.