The Clown Shoe With A 2JZ Kick

The Z3 M Coupé  is one of BMW’s most interesting, if not odd cars of the last few decades.

In designing the model, Dr. Burkhard Göschel didn’t just want a Roadster, but also something that was actually good to drive. Göschel and his team of engineers proceeded to chop up an early Z3 Roadster prototype, apparently using foam and foil to mould it into a coupé. Calculations showed that the coupé design increased chassis stiffness 2.6 times that of the Roadster, while providing much more cargo space, which wasn’t even part of the goal. After making a whole lot of headway with the project, convincing BMW to actually run with the Z3 M Coupé was the next task, and obviously that worked.

As interesting as how this model came about and what it became, the Z3 M Coupé we’re looking at today takes the ‘Clown Shoe’ to another level altogether.

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Desmond Rudman built this Z3 M Coupé with his son Jonathan, who owns Rapid Garage. You might know that name from our recent feature on a crazy Ferrari-powered and Pandem-kitted BMW M3, one of many custom creations to come out of Rapid’s workshop in Boksburg, South Africa.

When the Z3 M Coupé released in 1998, Desmond really wanted one but couldn’t afford it at the time. When a secondhand example came up for sale at the right price a few years later, he jumped at it.

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Desmond kept the car stock for quite some time, but eventually felt the need to start tinkering. Initially there were thoughts of turbocharging the S54 powerplant, but after hearing how much BMW wanted for a new motor – should that be required – Desmond decided that it would be too costly to go that route.

Around the same time, Jonathan heard of a complete 2JZ-GTE engine for sale, and at a steal. The answer was obvious.

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A bone-stock 2JZ wasn’t going to cut it though, and this one’s been treated to a number of power-building upgrades: a ported and flowed cylinder head, high-flow intake manifold, single GT3076 turbocharger, custom Rapid front-mount intercooler, Mines wastegate, DeatschWerks 960cc injectors, 100mm throttle body, Chevrolet LS1 coils and an equal-length stainless exhaust manifold running into a custom 89mm exhaust with OEM M3 back boxes.

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To make it all work, there’s a Spitronics Mercury2 ECU, and depending on the boost setting, the Z3 M Coupé now sees anywhere between 300kW (400hp) to 400kW (536hp) at the rear wheels. Helping it get there is a Toyota Hilux D4D diesel gearbox and 6-puck copper clutch. The rear end meanwhile, is factory BMW spec.

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One of the goals with the build was to make it completely reversible, should Desmond ever want to go back to S54 power. I can’t see that happening any time soon though; there’s just too much fun to have.

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Desmond’s Z3 M Coupé not only sits pretty, but KW Variant 2 Inox-Line coilovers and sticky Yokohama Advan A048 semi slicks – 225/35R18 front and 265/30R18 rear – ensure that it handles the newfound power too. Ferodo Racing pads all round improve the braking performance.

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When I first saw Desmond’s car in person, I assumed that it had been vinyl wrapped – it’s matte blue after all. But that’s not the case; it’s actually been repainted in Maserati Blu Passione Pearl with a matte clear coat, which looks really amazing.

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Inside, it’s a fairly stock affair. That’s not a bad thing, as the Z3 M Coupé interior is quite timeless. That said, a full suite of Prosport gauges have been added so Desmond can keep tabs on the under-bonnet happenings, and there’s a new gear lever and shift knob for the Toyota transmission.

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I really like this car for a couple of reasons… Firstly, it’s clever that they’ve made the engine swap totally reversible – the Z3 M Coupé was a limited-numbers model after all, and there’s value in being able to convert it back to stock (Desmond has all the original parts in storage) in the future. Secondly, going down the Toyota engine route they could make easy and reliable power.

Taking a drive with Desmond, the 2JZ sounds almost identical to the S54 at low-RPM, but once he opens it up, it gets quite loud and rowdy and the power kicks you back into the seat. What Rapid Garage has created is awesome.

Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzemedia



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Matthew Adam Berman

The M Coupe has been firmly in my dream garage for years. Love the colour on this one :)


Sort of a "what if Toyota and BMW collaborated on an earlier generation of Supra?" project.


So... it should automatically be hated, as dictated by teenagers on the internet, because it's not a Mk 4 Supra?


Yawn. What's with the teenage ideals out in SA? Wasted "ferrari" engine and 2JZ versus S52 is hardly worth the effort- usual BMW/Audi fanbois antics. Can't wait till they evolve into the Porsche phase.
But, nice Headlights, excellent install. Rapid garage seems to know their craft. Makes me wish they'd skip the Porsche/Lambo phase into the Vintage phase and apply these skills and internet-magination to the classic platforms.


When you start a comment with 'yawn.', it can't be a very nice one. At least you weren't attacking the writer this time. Thanks for that much at least.


A 2JZ-swapped Z3 M coupe is the unlikley hero


"Clown Shoe" now I can not get that image out of my head looking at it. Glad its not red :)
I feel they did it justice. Smart way to keep it fun and on the road.
I love the color and have always liked these cars. Even if it's a clown shoe.


This is as exciting as an LS swapped Foxbody. What I mean by that is that this is very played out and boring. I can show numerous BMWs in the Middle East with 2JZs in them. There's also plenty of 2JZ swapped BMWs in the USA. There's absolutely nothing special about this build. I hate to say this, but 2JZ and LS swapped cars are as exciting to look and read about as watching paint dry. Such cars should not be featured on such a wonderful website because in my opinion these swaps have been covered to death. There's nothing exciting about them anymore.


Well, I can't disagree. However, the workmanship on this one is much better than others I have seen.


Totally agree. The initial plan "S54 Turbo" sounds way more exciting. Also dislike the cheap aftermarket headlights.


I haven't seen this combo before. I like it.


There was a silver one in Kuwait that got sold for a measly sum of money due to the stupid 2JZ swap that ruined the characteristics of the car. If you search for 2JZ Z3 Coupe Kuwait on Google you'll find pictures of it. The only thing that was nice about that car was the interior.


I agree that it this build is debatable in terms of taste. 2JZ and LS swaps are nothing but boring nowadays. I like to say that this is just my opinion, and anyone can do whatever they want with their car. At the same time, anyone can do whatever they want with their opinion. The reason I think this build is somewhat foolish is due to the level of engineering that went into the clown shoe. This car was built by five very accomplished BMW engineers who got ahold of a Z3 coupe and, in their free time, decided to make it as much of a driver’s car as they possibly could using the same technology they used to design production cars. Since their only priority was performance, the car they ended up with was phenomenal. I could go into detail but I’m not going to write a novel, long story short, the car was one of the best performing cars of its time, if not the best. So, when you edit this engineering, including removing the legendary S54 straight-six as well as the 6 speed that was originally in the car, you are compromising multiple attributes of the car. Weight distribution and suspension geometry are two aspects that are drastically effected by changing the power plant and gearbox. Again, I’m not going to go too far into detail. The point is, why take such a work of art and foil it with a 2JZ. There are some cars which can be better in the majority of performance aspects with a swap, like a Miata. The M Coupe is the last car that needs an engine swap. Disclaimer: I am a purist and I knew I wasn’t going to agree with this build as soon as I read the article title. Don’t take my opinion to heart.


You are absolutely right, but i think even the owner of this car knows you are right, he made sure he could always go back to the original powertrain. This car is already a classic and in the future the value will go to the stratosphere like the M1 or the e30 M3. The purity of intent when it was designed will always come up and give it his true value, fashion comes and go, homologation specials or skunk works specials will always shine


Could not agree more with what you said. You summed up how I feel better than I could lol


Any clown shoe is nice, but one with a 2JZ is even better! Awesome work, Rapid Garage!


Coming in late to say I love the car-- but the gearbox choice boggles me completely. While I know the 420G won't fit, I have to wonder just how much clearancing would be required to make it fit. Was there worry that the GS6-37BZ ("Type H") Getrag wouldn't handle the power?

HPF and a couple of friends pushing more than 700 horses through these gearboxes seem to be proof that they will hold least initially. That said, maybe this 'box has a custom linkage with an awesomely-slick feel, or perhaps it has the longer first gear instead of the "tree-stump-puller" gearing of the original. I keep an open mind because there's a reason for every build decision.


not really a car that i love but its an OK build ya know.Especially wit dat classic 2jz.