If the unusual styling and amazing performance of the BMW M Coupe don’t get your attention, maybe this will: one just sold for a whopping $92,000 on Bring a Trailer. That’s $36K above the result for a similar example at Scottsdale two weeks ago and $18K beyond the previous auction high. Buckle up, folks. The so-called “clownshoe” (for its unusual shape) coupe is taking some serious strides in the collector market—and this may be just the beginning.
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if more started popping up for sale very soon,” says Hagerty auction editor Andrew Newton. “Given what BMW prices have been doing lately and the fact that M Coupes hardly ever ever come to market, this price seems largely due a combination of pent-up demand and the arrival of a car that ticked all the right boxes—low miles, S54 engine, good colors.”
Bonhams sold an immaculate 2002 Z3 M Coupe with 23,500 miles for $56,000 at its 2019 Arizona event in January. The Imola Red example set the bar in the U.S., but this American auction record lasted a mere 14 days. The international high-water mark was set by this silver example which sold for €64,960—or about $74K—at RM Sotheby’s Duemila Route 2016 sale in Milan, the highest-known auction price for an M Coupe. Until the BaT sale, that is.
“It’s the highest sale for an M Coupe of which we’re aware,” Newton says.
Like the Bonhams car, the BMW on BaT is finished in Imola Red over black-and-red Nappa leather interior. But this one has fewer than 4500 miles on the clock. Just 340 M Coupes were produced in 2002, and this is one of only 41 to leave the factory finished in this color combination. According to the description, it is a lifetime California car, with the seller adding just 200 miles since acquiring it from the original owner 12 years ago.
Built during the final year of production, this M Coupe is powered by a 315-horse S54 3.2-liter inline-six paired with a five-speed manual gearbox. In addition to fender vents, quadruple exhaust tips, and M badges, it wears staggered-width 17-inch Style 40 wheels with its original Michelin Pilot Sport tires. The description points out that “a few stone chips on the nose have been touched up with a paint pen,” but the car has not been involved in an accident. A Carfax report is included.
“The thing about these cars is that there isn’t really anything else like them, neither in the pantheon of BMW performance models nor in the wider world of cars,” Newton says. “A small hatchback with rear-wheel drive, manual gearbox, and large, very powerful engine stuffed into it is a unique recipe. Plus the M Coupes are very rare compared to most other BMWs.”
Rarity doesn’t always equal value in the used-Bimmer market—ask anyone who still owns an E38 750iL—but in this case the combination of low production numbers, eye-opening performance, and showroom-fresh condition seems to have hit the auction jackpot. The only question to answer: If a perfect M Coupe is worth nearly a hundred grand, is there investment potential for that 100K-mile track rat in your BMWCCA classifieds? If the clownshoe finds a fit in the collector-car market, is now the time to try one on?