2020 Hagerty Bull Market selection: 1998–2002 BMW M Roadster

BMW M Roadster

The 2020 Hagerty Bull Market list showcases the top vehicles that our valuation experts project will appreciate in the coming year. For the full list of 10 vehicles (and one motorcycle!) click here.

The Z3 roadster was a rush job. BMW developed it in just over three years in an effort to capitalize on the market created by the 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Fortunately in those wonderful years, BMW had lots of great pieces to pull from the shelf. It created the droptop out of E36-generation components from the contemporary 3-series and wrapped it in voluptuous sheetmetal. The Z3 started rolling out of BMW’s then-new factory in Greer, South Carolina, in 1995 and was marketed, quite brilliantly, with an appearance in the latest James Bond movie, GoldenEye.

Initially offered with a four-cylinder engine, the company’s M division got ahold of it and installed first a 240-hp inline-six, the same engine in the E36 M3, and then a 315-hp six for its last two years on the market. With that much power, the M coupe is the first choice, since that funky-looking fixed roof makes the whole car much stiffer. But BMW imported only a few thousand coupes to the United States, and 678 with the more powerful engine. The marketplace has responded accordingly, and the M coupe has skyrocketed in value in recent years, with an average #2 Hagerty value of $52,325.

BMW M Roadster
Matt Tierney

Which leaves us with the M roadster. It shares the coupe’s muscular haunches as well as its mechanicals and is the next best thing at roughly half the price. Cars with the 240-hp engine (code name S52) have an average Hagerty #2 value of $20,000, whereas those with the 315-hp (S54) six are valued at $28,000.

Hagerty member Mark Victor bought this pristine 1999 M roadster five years ago with 17,000 miles on it and has driven 10,000 since. “I used to be a Porsche guy,” he chuckles, “but then I had to send my kids to college.” His car looks amazing. The styling, which seemed overwrought all those years ago, has aged surprisingly well. The divinely fluid clutch-pedal movement; the pure, linear throttle response; and the familiar “valvey” hum of the BMW inline-six are all reminders of that period in the 1990s and early 2000s when seemingly everything BMW M touched was pure gold.

[+] BMW M performance at an affordable price; the styling is still fresh.

[–] Chassis not as fluid as a mid-engined Porsche Boxster’s of the same era; S54 maintenance can be expensive.

The flared wheel arches, fat tires, and quad tailpipes immediately identify the M version of the Z3. Coupes have already taken off, and now roadsters are moving.
Dean Smith
The flared wheel arches, fat tires, and quad tailpipes immediately identify the M version of the Z3. Coupes have already taken off, and now roadsters are moving.

1999 BMW M ROADSTER

Engine: inline-6, 3152 cc
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power: 240 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm
Weight: 3100 lb
Power-to-weight: 12.9 lb/hp
Brakes F/R: disc/disc
Price when new: $42,770
Hagerty value: $21,000–$27,200

THE HAGERTY VALUATION TEAM SAYS:

M cars are way up, but the M roadster was overlooked for a long time because it looks so much like a regular Z3. They are getting their due now. The coupe has already popped, and the roadster values are up 22 percent on the later 315-hp cars and 31 percent (starting from a lower value) on the earlier 240-hp cars. Yet good M roadsters are still half the price of good M coupes.