2002 Z3 M Coupe: Carey Iida
2002 E36/8 Z3 M coupe #LK1004
3.2-liter S54 inline six-cylinder, 315 hp, 251 lb-ft
Estoril Blue metallic
Carey Iida (since 2007)
NIntroduced in 1999, the odd-looking Z3 M coupe was the brainchild of then-BMW R&D chief Burkhard Göschel, who loves big engines in small cars. Göschel turned his personal Z3 M coupe into a full-blown race car, and enthusiasts followed suit, even using forced induction on the 315-hp S54 engine that the 2001-’02 cars shared with the E46 M3.
Berkeley, California glass artist Carey Iida nearly did so himself. When he bought the car you see here, he had grand plans to create an EVO-style M coupe. As he evolved with the car, however, he began to distill its essence rather than altering its character. Reflecting his Japanese ancestry, Iida focused on expressing something complex in a simple, elegant way: everything necessary, nothing extraneous. The result is the most beautifully prepared Z3 M coupe we’ve seen.
That’s no surprise to anyone who saw the magnificent Alpina CSL that Iida restored in the mid-’90s, and which took 25 straight SCCA concours class victories and two Best of Show awards against professional restored Porsches and Ferraris. “Carey did a Pebble Beach-level restoration purely on passion, and he did it correctly,” says BMW CCA national concours chair Paul Cain.
Iida spent two years looking for a 2002 S54-powered Z3 M coupe in Estoril Blue over Estoril/Black leather, with no sunroof. He found #LK61004 in Texas with only 5,000 miles, but he couldn’t afford it. When the same car came up for sale in 2007, Iida was able to buy it, but it was no longer the flawless car he’d seen earlier. “I had to put a lot of detail and preparation to get it into the shape it is now.”
He perfected the Z3 M coupe with an artist’s eye and meticulous attention to detail. “I think that’s part of my DNA,” Iida says. “My mother, Hiroko, was born in Tokyo, and I learned from her attention to detail in everything she did.”
Look closely at those 18-inch BBS E88 competition-spec wheels. Iida had them built for this application, with forged centers in platinum grey instead of silver or gold, and attached with BBS lug nuts. “You’d never notice those lug nuts unless you looked really close, but it’s a cool detail.”
Iida corrected the M coupe’s ride height with AST 4100 coil-overs and Vorschlag camber plates to adjust the wheel angles. “Just changing the suspension changed the whole look and handling of the car, and that’s what I wanted,” Iida says.