pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
3/3/21 8:36 a.m.

One of those cars I hated when new, that has aged shockingly well and come to be much more favorable in my mind, is the original BMW Z4.


 

I know that they solved the structural problems (aka subframe go weeeeee) of the preceding Z3, and that they are available in both M54 and N52 varieties with 5-speed and 6-speed transmissions (I don't recall if the N52 is as problematic as the turbo mills so the M54 availability is nice), but not a whole lot else.

These seem like they would be a solid value play relative to an S2000 (as values skyrocket) or a Boxster (which are bottomed out but still have Porsche problems and maintenance costs attached).

From a motorsports perspective I know there's no off-the-shelf track legal roll bar option like there is for virtually everything else (kinda surprised on this actually) which stinks. But aside from that do people like or dislike these? Seems like a potential dark horse in the roadster market.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/3/21 9:20 a.m.

I don't recall the subframe on the Z3 being a problem.  It used the same basic suspension as the E30 and was not bolted to the floor of the trunk like the E36 and E46 Sedan and Coupe.  It was actually a fairly robust set up, but not as tunable or "safe" as the later multilink.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
3/3/21 9:24 a.m.

In reply to mad_machine (Forum Supporter) :

They absolutely had issues, there was even a class-action against BMW about it IIRC. The M Roadster in particular had an extreme failure rate.

 

https://www.autoengineering.com/portfolio/bmw-z3-rear-subframe-mounting-points-repair/

https://www.ascfabrics.com/post/trunkfloor

https://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?1979601-Subframe-trunk-floor-differential-mount-failure

 

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
3/3/21 9:41 a.m.

I agree that the styling on these has aged quite well.  If they hadn't done... that, to the fender & doors, I think they'd look really nice.  And I could accept the oddness in the doors if I was open to one as a second car.

Nothing useful to add otherwise.

dps214
dps214 HalfDork
3/3/21 10:36 a.m.

In reply to pres589 (djronnebaum) :

I don't hate the exterior, but the interior really kills it for me. The slab front totally featureless dashboard that, at least in photos, always looks like it was made with the cheapest materials physically possible. I briefly looked into them when I was Z3M shopping but just could never get excited about it. And unlike the exterior, you have to see that constantly whenever you're driving it.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
3/3/21 11:36 a.m.

In reply to dps214 :

I don't love the dashboard either but I do think I prefer it to the weird plastic blob mess that is the 986 Boxster dash.

Driven5
Driven5 UltraDork
3/3/21 11:45 a.m.

While a roadster, it's still one that's built on a sportyish sedan platform. So it's more GT than outright sports car. Better power and sound than an NC Miata, but heavier and less directly connected. Being based more on the E46, I'd hope it's a little less intrusive with the unnecessary electronic wizzardry that works unseen in the background against more serious driving than that found in my E88... But being a 21st century BMW, I wouldn't put it past them. When I was considering 2 seaters in my search for a RWD/Manual convertible in that age/price range, the 3.0Si variant was in on-again/off-again contention, although I probably would have ultimately ended up with an NC Miata if given the choice.

Karacticus
Karacticus GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/3/21 11:59 a.m.

I put over 110,000 miles on the 3.0si E86 Coupe, including many track weekends.  About the only thing outside of the usual consumables for the track was wheel bearings, though that got better once I put two piece rotors on the front.  Running 17' wheels kept the tire costs somewhat reasonable but, of course, track pads cost.  An LSD would have been nice.

The N52 engine pulls nicely, though it's a little challenged sometime at keeping all of its oil on the inside. Normal maintenance-- plugs, coils, belts/tensioner, fluids, brakes, etc were pretty straightforward DIY jobs with good access.

You'd also get well over 30 mpg on the way to/from the track!

 

dps214
dps214 HalfDork
3/3/21 12:55 p.m.
pointofdeparture said:

In reply to dps214 :

I don't love the dashboard either but I do think I prefer it to the weird plastic blob mess that is the 986 Boxster dash.

All else equal...I'm honestly not sure which I hate less. But context is important, the boxster dash in the context of it being a $5k 90s car really isn't that awful. But I assume Z4s, especially the higher trim versions, still at least vaguely cost real car money and they're much newer so my expectations are higher.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
3/3/21 1:01 p.m.

Is there no clutch-posi or Torsen-type LSD available for these (or available without having to sell an organ to pay for it)?

Karacticus
Karacticus GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/3/21 2:07 p.m.
pres589 (djronnebaum) said:

Is there no clutch-posi or Torsen-type LSD available for these (or available without having to sell an organ to pay for it)?

It's more or less an E46 in a fancy dress, so there are many LSD options available, but I recall the part cost being around $2.5k to start.  Might be able to do better out of salvage.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
3/3/21 2:11 p.m.

In reply to dps214 :

E85 Z4 is '02-08 and 986 Boxster is '97-04, so they really aren't that far apart age wise. Prices are very similar too for both; seems like $7-12k is fair range for a decently maintained example of either. So I would definitely put them both in the same category. (M cars are significantly more though and not comparable.)

If anything the S2000 is the one that's become unattainable in the years since they were new.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
3/3/21 2:55 p.m.

I'm confused.  Isn't this mostly E46-based, which absolutely has subframe issues?

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
3/3/21 3:04 p.m.

In reply to ProDarwin :

Yes they broadly are, but according to what I can find online, E85/86 subframes mount to frame rails in a different fashion than the E46 and just don't really seem to have the issue. For example, see this thread from last year: https://www.zpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1688647 

I've owned E36 and E46 cars and my understanding has always been that the E36, the six-cylinder Z3s, and the early E46s (production before 2001) had the worst of the subframe problems.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
3/3/21 3:09 p.m.

I dunno, that sounds an awful lot like Subaru people telling you the headgaskets on the 2.5 are good after year XXX (they aren't).  laugh devil

 

Now if the E85/86 mounts totally different, cool.  I support this, although I would be hunting for a coupe.  Convertible tops are berkeleying expensive to replace and they wear out quickly.

 

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
3/3/21 3:10 p.m.

Seems like the Z4 went from a shallow stamping to an actual box section.

Z4 subframe mount:

E46 subframe mount:

gunner (Forum Supporter)
gunner (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/3/21 6:09 p.m.

I just came here to add that I saw a Z4 today with what looked like honest to god wire wheels and after I got over the initial novelty of it, I really was drawn to the old vs new blend the wires wheels added to the Z4 in an appealing way.  It's kind of got me tangentially looking at Z4's to do the same thing to. As if I had the money to do that right now.

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