Automotive Mayfly

This isn’t much of a Photo for Saturday** more of blue car by the side of the road. What is it?


It’s a very Was Then sort of car. From 2006 to 2008 BMW made this car in Regensburg. It’s a variant of the E85 Z4 which had a longer life. The Z4M had one engine, a 3.2 litre six cylinder unit and a six speed ‘box. In some ways you could call it an M3 wearing Z4 clothes. If you want a historical reference, it has the same relation to the Z4 as the Triumph GT6 to the mainstream Spitfire. It’s the kind of car that used to be quite common, a pure sports car which is now rather a freak.

Audi make a faux version of this and Porsche make the Cayman which I have to say is to sports cars what a Ford Mondeo and Opel Insignia is to saloons, one of the last men standing. Attention is now elsewhere.

When I saw it I thought it looked like something I hadn’t seen for a while. It’s actually something I haven’t seen very much of at all and I thrashed about the Internet looking for its correct identity.

Wouldn’t you rather a Honda S2000? I think I would. Whatever I think, this is simply ideal material for a classic car article in 2028: “BMW’s forgotten masterpiece,” or some such.

**which is why it’s here on Saturday not Sunday. There’s another photo of the car which is a better candidate for a Sunday photo.

^^amended following comments, Jan 14 2017.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

11 thoughts on “Automotive Mayfly”

  1. I actually quite like this car. Perhaps alongside the 1 series coupe it’s my favourite Bangle era BM. Mind you I also liked the Z3 M Coupe. I would definitely take this over an S2000. Drop tops never did it for me and I couldn’t take the (albeit very potent) 2 litre 4 cylinder over that gorgeous straight 6 3.2. Was it really that forgettable? There is one near where I live and I always look out for it.

  2. “Audi make a faux version of this and Porsche make the Cayenne ”

    I think you meant “Cayman” there…

    As for the Z4M, I don’t recall ever seeing one. I like it, but the Z3M appealed more.

  3. For a design that is supposed to be all about uninterrupted body creases and which the designer has explicitly said needs to be ‘read’ in a particular way (an idea I am not entirely on board with, but let’s leave that for the moment), the disjuncture between the top of the break in the side glass and the panel pressing in the roof pillar makes me irrationally cross.

  4. I’d like to see it in 2004 Ford Focus blue, it’s lighter and redder. That said it does look pleasing as it is. The rump is inspired by the 7-series. It’s quite eccentric, this car. It’d be well within BMW’s power to make short-lived variants, a “sandwich of the week”, as it were. Without actually looking, I bet this car has super residuals.
    (I still prefer the Honda).

  5. That Z4M thing is ungainly, but at least BMW tried to turn Bangles’ worst around for the 2009 refresh, performed mainly by two women designers, Juliane Blasi exterior, and Naya Arnaout, interior. Here’s a really decent article about that:

    Didn’t really help sales out much though. Overt codpieces are a bit passe these days, look at the spindle maws of Lexuses as a cod predator, ready to pounce. Gotcha!

    1. Yes, I’d noticed that the successor was the work of two women, unusual in this tediously macho world. It’s not better than the predecessor though and I would not expect it to be; none of the other cars in the range are very distinguished except the GTs.

    2. I certainly prefer the Anders Warming ‘Bangle’ Z4 to its successor, but that’s no reflection on its designers. It’s a perfectly good piece of work but reflects the general blandness of current BMWs.

      “Whatever has become of Anders Warming?” I was going to ask. I’m not the only one here who thought well of his work at BMW, and thought that MINI would end up being a poisoned chalice. But, now I know. His rise at Borgward continues, but lets see some product.

      Over to you Robertas.

  6. Five years ago I seriously considered buying a Z4 Coupe or Nissan 350Z, going as far as to keep a vigil over Autotrader for likely candidates. The insurance for a Z4M was stiff even for someone the wrong side of 30, but a 2.5 or 3.0 would have been more than adequate. My whim was scuppered when the missus announced she was pregnant, so obviously I went out and bought a Civic Type R instead.

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