Questioned at launch, those unconventional looks have aged well, and this modified BMW Z3 M has been treated to a few choice mods that have given it even more appeal.

These days, we have become somewhat accustomed to BMW making some questionable design choices. Take the new BMW M3 for example… But back in the day, when Bavarian machinery was much easier on the eye, on the rare occasions that BMW did make something a little out of the ordinary, everyone sat up and took notice. And one of the best examples of this is the E36/8 Z3 M Coupé.

modified BMW z3 m coupe rear 3/4 shot

BMW Z3 M Coupé ‘Breadvan’ origins

In the UK, it was affectionately nicknamed the ‘breadvan’ Americans took to calling it the clown shoe, but whether it’s baked goods or funny people with oversized footwear that come to mind, the simple fact is that the Z3 Coupé is definitely not a conventional BMW in any way, shape or form. When it launched, the weirdest-looking BMW on sale at the time was the E36 Compact, and it wasn’t even that odd compared to its successor.

But grafting a hatchback rear end onto the Z3 Roadster created something rather ungainly. It feels unbalanced with that back end – very long at the front and short in the rear, with that weird rising window line, and it is undeniably a strange-looking car. But it’s also a car that is undeniably a modern icon. The downright weird styling is precisely what makes it stand out, and that, along with its low production numbers and rarity have made it a collector’s piece, which is why you can pick up an M Roadster for £14,000, but you’ll need to spend double that to get your hands on the bakers’ favourite. And for Ayman Bugis, it was all about parking the unconventional M icon in his garage.

Ayman’s car history

Ayman is a big BMW fan, and he’s in the fortunate position of being able to indulge his passion for cars, working as a doctor in medical genetics and assistant professor of genetics at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. “I was born and grew up in Jeddah. When I was
at school, I was always a big fan of BMW magazines, always inspired by those heavily modified BMW cars in the UK. I loved them, and they inspired me, and since the stance game was and still is growing over there, I wanted one day to build my own BMW to a high standard exactly like what we see published in BMW magazines,” Ayman enthuses.

“After I finished my bachelor’s degree, I got a well-paid position at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, and I thought to myself: let’s get a present from myself to myself,” Ayman grins, “so I went to a BMW showroom and I bought myself a brand-new E92 320i. I love the shape of the E92. I’d seen a few on Instagram that had been stanced on big wheels, so I said to myself yes, this nice shape, within my budget, had quite wide arches, so this is what exactly I wanted,” he says with a smile. E92 acquired, Ayman proceeded to get stuck into some mods, dropping it on coilovers, adding 19” Work splits, a full M Sport kit, M3 bonnet, CSL boot lid and a few other touches, and that was good going for his first-ever modified car.

front on shot of modified BMW z3 m coupe rear shot of modified BMW z3 m coupe

Love affair with BMW

Having always wanted a BMW and having made that happen with his 320i, the E92 proved to be a gateway car for Ayman and opened the door to full-on BM addiction, which has led to the quintet he currently owns, but there’s something of a theme here. “As I mentioned previously, I always wanted simple and clean, classic, unique shape, rare and powerful BMWs. So, I purchased my E31 840Ci six years ago, and since then, I wanted another rare and unique-looking BMW to be a pair with the 840. So, I decided to go ahead with Z3 M Coupé,” he smiles.

“It is an ultra-rare car. According to the database, 700-ish RHD Z3 M Coupés were built, with half of these still registered. It is the shape, power, design and the rear with the huge M arches that make this car stand out from other models. For me, it is one of the best designs BMW ever made. It is so eye-catching. Every single trip I do, I get a lot of attention, thumbs-up, and a lot of the time people – young and old, male and female – stop me and start talking about the M Coupé,” Ayman grins, and it’s a car that can never slip under the radar.

z3 m interior

Buying the BMW Z3 M Coupe

Of course, finding the right BMW Z3 M Coupé is not an easy task, with so few to choose from, so you have to be committed to the cause. “Honestly, there were not many RHD Z3 Ms for sale on the market at that time, and even now, it’s becoming harder and harder to find one,” says Ayman. “I was checking online websites every day till I found this clean example near London. As always, it had to be an original condition, clean, low-mileage classic BMW,” and he obtained exactly that.

While the Z3 M Coupé could be had in a variety of different colours – no fewer than 14, in fact – it’s arguably best served by bold, bright hues like Imola red, Dakar and Phoenix yellows, and the Estoril blue of Ayman’s example. Estoril is such an iconic BMW colour and so fitting for such an iconic M car. That light metallic blue works beautifully on the Z3 Coupé’s body, highlighting all the details, and accentuating those curves and swollen arches, and it really brings out the best in this unconventional design. If you’re shopping for a Z3 M Coupé, promise us you’ll pick one in a bright, bold colour – it’s what the car deserves. And if you own one, why not join us at the German Car Festival this October and join other rare German machinery on show.

German Car Festival modified BMW z3 m coupe engine

OEM+ modifications that make a difference

Looking at Ayman’s modified BMW Z3 M, it’s clear that, apart from putting it on air ride and fitting wheels, the rest of the car has been left almost completely stock. The Z3 isn’t a car that was ever especially well-served in terms of aftermarket modifications, nor is it a car that ever really needed much in the way of additions, beyond perhaps wheels and suspension. The retro styling has aged very well and looks good today, and in M form, it has presence and aggression in spades, while the smooth lines don’t lend themselves well to the addition of splitters, spoilers and the like. This is a car that is arguably at its best with just the slightest of individual touches to give it just a hint of individuality, as you can see here, and that was always Ayman’s plan.

“Once I sealed the deal, I ordered the Air Lift suspension and bagged it within a few weeks. It’s a custom Air Lift Performance suspension setup, and I chose it because I really like the look of a car when it’s slammed on the floor. It looks super-clean and simple,” he reasons, and we can’t disagree. Of course, when you’re lowering a car – be that on air or coilovers – that’s only part of the equation, and to balance that drop, you need the right wheels to make everything right, and Ayman’s choice is sheer perfection.

aftermarket wheels on modified BMW z3 m coupe

Choosing the right wheels for the modified BMW Z3 M Coupé

“I always wanted original, unique, rare wheels. For me, the wheels are the most important thing in the stance game and car modification. Heavy budget should put on them,” he says, with a serious look, and you know he’s not messing around here. “I am a rare wheel collector. I have three sets of Racing Dynamics RS2 splits, Alpina Softline splits, Azev A splits, AC Schnitzer Type 3 and Type 1 splits,” he says, reeling off a list that reads like an ultimate fantasy wheel wishlist. And with such impeccable taste, it’s no surprise that his modified BMW Z3 M Coupé is wearing something seriously sexy beneath its arches.

“I purchased a set of original BBS LM 089 17s from Russia and lips and barrels from SRR Hardware,” he says, and those were necessary to turn them into deep-dish, arch-filling 18s that sit oh-so-perfectly on this Z3. Seriously, these BBSs look so good and tuck gracefully beneath the sculpted bodywork when Ayman airs out, with the blue centre caps tying in with the Estoril paint and the gold hardware adding just the perfect contrasting touch.

“The wheels are my favourite thing because wheels make the car. I don’t like doing much modification on the body – always remember: less is more,” emphasises Ayman, and it’s a philosophy he lives by. Everything else is almost completely as it was when the car left the factory – from the bodywork to the 321hp S50 beneath that dramatic clamshell bonnet, though Ayman has added a couple of very subtle touches.

rear 3/4 shot of modified BMW z3 m coupe

Other modifications on the BMW Z3 M

The first of these is the amber lights that he’s fitted all-round, along with a front number plate delete for a smoother look. Within the vibrant two-tone interior, you will find the only other modification on the car, that being an A-pillar-mounted oil pressure gauge, but that’s more of a safety feature than anything else.

While some BMWs gain so much from some serious mods, less is more works so well here because the Z3 M Coupé is already so much to begin with – try to add any more, and it all starts to go wrong. Ayman’s gorgeous Estoril machine is the perfect embodiment of a little goes a long way, and it’s such a simple and clean example that has just gained that little something extra from what he’s done. The Z3 M Coupé might not be for everyone, but if ever there was an example that might just sway you, we reckon this modified BMW Z3 M might be it.

Photos: Ade Brannan.

If you love German cars like this, then we’ve got the show for you. On October 5th we’re taking over Goodwood Motor Circuit for German Car Festival. You’ll get to see rare cars like this Z3 M, as well as some of the wildest German car builds in the UK. Be sure to visit the German Car Festival website for more info on how to secure your ticket.