All images are from a recent BMW Z3 M Coupe reunion photoshoot held in the Bay Area. Thanks to Rich (@dasblaushu) and the rest of the M Shoe owners for making this gathering happen.

Words and photos by Vijay Sankar (@pink_helmet).

Some of the most interesting cars ever made have taken form without express approval from the powers that be. Their creators harboring unhinged ideas for the era had to swim against the current, and prevail over the bean counters to fulfill their visions. These cars weren’t always welcomed with open hands by the customer base either. But they stood the test of time, ageing like fine wine, or captured hearts in due course by simply being utterly extraordinary.

They were shocking to the eye, challenging the status quo and pushing the envelope of what was expected by the market space. Turns out true greatness is not limited by the confines of convention.

Skunkworks projects–as they are fondly called–the likes of the Z3 M Coupe, 1M, Audi RS2 and the latest Ford GT fall squarely in this rarified category. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but those who experience, understand and embrace them tend to become long time caretakers of the idea.

In typical fashion, the development team for the Z3 M Coupe led by Burkhard Göschel had a tough time convincing the board to greenlight the concept for production, but it was eventually given the go ahead as long as it remained cost-effective to manufacture. To an untrained eye, the Z3 M Coupe may appear to be any old–and a tad weird–BMW of little interest. But those who know recognize the way the lines hark back to the 70s, how the dials in the interior are a tasteful retro throwback, and how the rear haunches and low roofline render an exceedingly compelling visual treat.

Shooting brakes are just so right.


As the drivers got chatty in the slight drizzle, I got to work positioning my camera strategically to portray this 9-strong gathering of BMW extravaganza. Some of the best things about bygone era machines are their intricate details–from the times when cars were fundamentally sketched and sculpted in art studios, rather than in computer simulations or wind tunnels. The M Coupe’s bodywork is a retro throwback in the best way possible.

As an enthusiast who was first exposed two years ago to the rich and diverse car culture in the US, this was easily a top three photoshoot I’ve been part of. I must also admit that the rain that kept going on and off didn’t spoil the party–in fact, it helped paint the immaculate vibes that are portrayed here. We had all but two factory colors of the M Shoe show up that evening, making it an unforgettable time.

Here’s a rundown of the M Shoes I had the pleasure of photographing:

• Antonine, @toine_m3 – 1999 Dakar Yellow 2 on Gray & Black, S52, 1 of 8, AC SCHNITZER Type1 wheels

• Matthew, @etherwiggles – 2002 Laguna Seca Blue on Gray & Black, S54, 1 of 10, OEM spec

• Quoc, @quoclnugyen – 2002 Phoenix Yellow on Black, S54, 1 of 17, bought from Eric Keller at Enthusiast Auto Group, OEM spec

• Rich @dasblaushu – 1999 Estoril on Estoril & Black, S52 Dinan S2, 1 of 24, slick top, HARTGE Type C wheels

• Andy, @mister_andy_tran – 1999 Boston Green on Oregon Beige, S52, 1 of 61, owned since 2009 when acquired from his friend who later passed in 2011. Andy’s friend’s passion for M cars and the Shoe were his introduction to BMW M cars. The car is now in the memory of his friend, and the ultimate reason for #neversell

• Haig, @haig368 – 2000 Imola Red 2 on Imola & Black interior, S52, 1 of 66, supercharged, HRE Classic Series wheels

• George, @george_abinader – 1999 Arctic Silver on Black interior, S52, 1 of 125, 25,000 miles, OEM spec

• Scott, @m_coupe.jpg – 2000 Cosmos Black on Black interior, S52 Dinan, 1 of 130, Custom BMW M Rain interior, Rotiform RFO wheels

• Steven, @steventhawley – 2000 Titanium Silver on Black interior, S52, 1 of 196, SSR Type C wheels, Dinan

Photography and words by Vijay Sankar (@pink_helmet)

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