Rolf Pfannerer – My Evolution to Clownshoe Owner

Rolf's Clownshoe

If you have a story that you’d like to share about Clownshoes, how you came to own yours, or an interesting story about it that you’d like to see featured here, feel free to send it over!


My evolution to being a Clownshoe owner and fanatic of a near perfect Imola Red over Imola Red/Rlack 2000 M Coupe started with my purchase in 1996 of a then new 1.9 Hellrot Z3. I loved that car (Still do. It is my DD.) and couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful or entertaining. My wife and I happily shared this car as I would sometimes have to drive my real “bread van” for the bakery I own. Back then if you wanted to look at pictures and read articles about your car you actually would buy magazines. The Internet was pretty crude and empty up to that point.


Rolf's Clownshoe and Roady

I remember the first pictures I saw of a Clownshoe; like everyone else I thought it looked rather odd. Of course it didn’t help that many of the articles declared it flat out ugly. I dismissed “the shoe” as nothing special, until I happened upon one at the dealership. Like most of us here I was instantly drawn to it and started fantasizing about owning one. Alas, I was still smitten by my little Z3 and no way could I afford two sports cars, especially one over $40,000. The car being so rare it pretty much disappeared from my mind as you hardly ever see them.


Then about two years ago I actually saw one on the road and got the “fever” again. I noticed some Z3 coupes were selling for below $10,000. Although I like buying all my things new, I thought it would be great to buy a decent one cheap and use it as a DD. Thanks to Jon Martin’s great site I began making phone calls for anything that looked decent at that price point. Even though I live in LA, and I’m lucky enough to have quite a few of them within driving distance, it took me a road trip with the family to the San Francisco Bay area before I finally looked at one in person. It was an Arctic Silver manual 1999 Z3 coupe that drove rather well, but I couldn’t get past the cosmetic and interior problems. At that point I thought I might not ever own one because I would not be willing to spend 10 grand on something that needed a lot more money put into it. I thought no way would I ever spend 20 grand on a 15 year old used car.


It’s funny how sometimes if you give up on something it falls right into your lap. Casually scrolling down the M Coupe Buyers Guide I noticed an Imola red coupe at a high end dealership located close by in Newport Beach. They had the same pic posted months before with a price of $27,900. This one was listed at $23,900. Could it be the same car? After my previous dealer disappointment, I was in no hurry to take a day off work. Also, the price was much higher than I wanted to spend.


Rolf's Z3s

I resolved to blow it off, but as I scrolled to the bottom of the listing, something caught my eye. A Facebook review said although shifter felt notchy, exterior paint and interior leather were “98% new”. I made plans to check it out in the morning, and joked with my wife the next day not to worry, no way I would return with another 2-seater (we have a 14 year old daughter). The second I saw the car, I knew it was mine. Opening the door only confirmed it. The car looked brand new, I think I would have bought it even if it didn’t start. The beautiful coupe was sitting in the middle of a showroom filled with Ferraris and Bentleys, many priced between $100,000 and $300,000, and it looked like the steal of the century. I made a weak attempt at haggling and offered full asking.


I made a deposit, filled out paperwork, and made plans to pick it up the next day. Upon picking it up I was told people had been calling about it all day, and two previous potential buyers had their financing fall through. They had someone offer 25 grand for it that morning. I could’ve made $1000 in less than 12 hours, not bad! The car was part of a collection traded in a multi-car exotic car trade swap, and stored for about two years. This car is everything I ever dreamed of. I pretty much get goose bumps every time I drive it–which is only weekends. Ironically I kept my 1.9 as the DD. Better gas mileage, smoother (mushy/easier) shifter, less worry. The M Coupe is just too nice to leave out in the hot sun every day.


My advice is obvious … If you really want an M Coupe, have your financials in order and be ready to act … FAST!


Rolf's Clownshoe and Roady II

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  1. Joe A.

     /  September 14, 2015

    Nice story write up! Your Imola does look to be in fantastic shape! Congrats on going for it… also kudos for having multiple ‘impractical’ cars – having choices is true bliss. Interesting to see light red (aka right red) next to Imola red in the same exposure – quite a striking difference. BTW, supposedly there’s one Hellrot M Coupe out there someplace!

    BTW, I have a similar story brewing as well… and you’ve inspired me to write my ‘evolution to M Coupe’ autobiography as well. My car should be delivered in about 10 days – can’t hardly wait!

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