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2001 Sterling Gray over Black Z3 Coupe and 2002 Steel Gray over Imola Red M Coupe

I work from home, so I don't really have or need a "daily driver", but i really wanted to try to use this coupe as much like one as my lifestyle affords. For years I've recommended Z3 Coupes for people looking for daily drivers, and I needed to validate my recommendations. I pretty much drove it whenever there wasn't snow on the ground and I had one or fewer kids with me. It also took my wife and I to Denver for our January anniversary, to several Cars and Coffees, and numerous late-night errands. Like all coupes, it made each and every one of the drives more fun. I felt like I got just as many curious looks as my M Coupes gets and had several fun gas station conversations. If you don't commonly have more than one passenger, I'm not sure I can think of a better daily driver. You can fit a LOT of groceries in the hatch.

While I had it, I of course took the opportunity to compare its sterling gray paint to that on my steel gray M Coupe. I had never actually seen sterling gray on a coupe in person until I picked this one up. I'd say sterling gray is a pretty close cross between titanium silver and steel gray. It's several shades lighter than steel gray and has a little of the subtle gold tone from titanium silver. I love it!

2001 Sterling Gray over Black Z3 Coupe

In the last article I mentioned this coupe presented lots of firsts for me. I'd like to address them here. First, the two-tone interiors are one of my favorite parts of the M Coupes. Aside from Project Coupe #1, we haven't had another with solid black interior as I personally think they are a little boring compared to the rest of the car. What do I think of the solid black in this coupe? The chrome-line trim really helps which is not available on the M's. I could totally live with it long term.

What about the sunroof-delete? While I appreciate the rarity, and I really like the look of a slick top, I have to admit there were times I missed it when running about town. I think part of it was I mostly drove it in the evenings this summer. I will admit I wasn't loving the sunroof in my coupe driving across Nevada to Dorkfest a couple months ago, so I'll call it a draw.

Now the big question, does an automatic coupe lose the magic. In a word, no. I admit I was skeptical at first, and at second, and a little at third. The first several hundred miles of driving it home i reached for the non-existent clutch pedal every time I had to hit the brakes. But eventually I got it. I even began to appreciate it. Because this was "my" project coupe rather than a group project coupe, I drove it far, far more than any of the others. In all those errands I took it on in my "daily driving", I may actually prefer the automatic. There, I said it.

2001 Sterling Gray over Black Z3 Coupe

But what about for enthusiastic drives? It did pretty well honestly. For the spring BBQ, it happened that every other coupe there was either an S54 or a supercharged S52. The 3.0 was down nearly 100 hp to each and every car. My wife drove our coupe, as I really wanted to see how the Z3 Coupe would do. In general, it kept up pretty well. In my personal S54 coupe, on that road, I typically just leave it in 3rd gear for all but one corner. I was able to do the same in the Z3 by putting the transmission in manual mode. I lost some ground coming out of the corners, but I bet my stock non-M suspension was a whole lot more comfortable in the straights :-).

If I did have a commute, would I want a Z3 Coupe? Absolutely! If I had the extra cash right now, this one would be a keeper. I'll honestly miss it more than all the others. It wasn't all fun and games though, this coupe needed lots of loves and many fixes too. Those will be detailed in the next couple articles.

2001 Sterling Gray over Black Z3 Coupe


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Jon Martin
Fort Collins, CO