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BMW Z3: Buying guide and review (1996-2002)

BMW Z3: Buying guide and review (1996-2002) Classic and Performance Car
BMW Z3 BMW Z3 BMW Z3 BMW M Coupe BMW M Coupe
Looking for a usable sportscar that won’t rust, break down and is fun to drive, with top notch parts availability? Then you’ll be needing a BMW Z3, offered with a range of robust and efficient four or six-cylinder powerplants, each equipped with a slick gearbox, beautifully weighted steering and anti-lock brakes which were just one part of a suite of safety features to keep things shiny side up. 
 
Better dynamically than its reputation would have you believe, the Z3’s rear suspension was criticised in period, but offers a surprisingly good amount of grip and consistency – just don’t expect to be cosseted. The front of the car was based around the E36 3 Series’ MacPherson strut set-up, giving a capable overall balance. 
 
The engines are the high spot though, especially the straight-sixes for which BMW is famous. Even the 2.0-litre lump is smooth and muscular, but go for one of the 3.0-litre units and you’ll always have ample power; the M Roadster is even more pokey, and as the ultimate Z3, it’s sure to become the most collectible variant of all. 
 
Styling was charmingly retro, with over-exaggerated bulges, curves and some familiar looking grilles in the front wings. 
 
Which one to buy? 
 
There are many different variants to choose from, making the Z3 an interesting choice. If you’re looking for performance, then we’d advise you stay away from the four-cylinder models. 
 
With a 140bhp 1.9-litre four-cylinder, the entry-level Z4 should have been entertaining. Sadly, the 1164kg kerb weight severely punishes the car’s performance. A four-pot Z3 will be an easier and cheaper car to buy and run, but it’s the big sixes that are more of a joy to drive. 
 
Following on from the 1.9 was an entry-level 1.8-litre, which is seriously underpowered at 116bhp, as well as a more appealing 2.2-litre straight-six. 
 
From launch, the 2.8-litre Z4 was actually quicker than the comparable Boxster, and provided a silky smooth engine note, great power delivery and outright performance the roadster really deserved. Later 2.8 and 3.0 models also got a better version of VANOS. 
 
For genuine performance, then you have the ultimate Z3 – the M Roadster. Being a genuine M-Sport model, it got a more sophisticated rear suspension system and an absolute belter of a 321bhp engine. These are rapidly appreciating classics though, and tracking down a good example is an expensive business (see prices section below). 
 
Sourcing the ‘breadvan’ M Coupe is another option for the drivers out there. It want on sale in 1998, and offered a considerably better driving experience, as well as quirky sporting estate styling. This interesting body style was only available in high-performance M-specification in the UK. 
 
One useful option for anyone wanting to use a Z3 Roadster throughout the winter months is the extremely rare aluminium hard top. It was an expensive when new, and it can be a pain to remove and store (as with most hard tops), but is certainly worth considering. 
 
Performance and specs
 
BMW M Roadster
Engine 3201cc, 6-cylinder DOHC
Power 321bhp @ 7400rpm
Torque 258lb ft @ 3250rpm
Top speed 155mph
0-60mph 5.4sec
Fuel consumption 23mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2446mm
Length 4050mm
Width 1740mm
Height 1293mm
Kerb weight 1360kg
 
Common Problems 
 
• Check the bodywork for corrosion. There shouldn’t be any if the car has been well cared for, but accident damage or neglect can lead to issues. Age is also starting to take its toll on some early cars, with rust most likely to bubble up around the boot lock and mirror bases. Bumpers are plastic, so check for minor knocks and scrapes – although repairs are relatively cheap and easy. 
 
• Under the skin there are some more potential areas for corrosion to take hold, such as the diff and rear subframe mounting points. These have also been known to crack if driven hard throughout its life. Check that the inner wings and boot floor are straight and true, as crumpling probably points towards a minor knock at some point. 
 
• Check with the owner that the car has had new seals around the doors and header rail at some point. If not, look for signs of perishing and a damp interior. It’s unusual for hoods to need replacing, but the plastic rear window can become translucent with age. Polishing it can generally bring it back however. 
 
• Although the six-pot engines are more interesting, the four-cylinder engines are very much the sensible and reliable choice. The most common problem is generally a failing oxygen sensor, which will throw up an engine warning light or fail an MoT emissions test. Also listen out for a noisy timing chain. 
 
• The non-M Six-cylinder engines have a few more issues to be aware of, such as the Nikasil cylinder liners. These caused issues in the 1990s due to high-sulphur fuel supplies, but the majority of engines were fixed under warranty. US cars were fitted with a cast-iron block engine, which doesn’t suffer the same problems. 
 
• Overheating can also be a problem, thanks to an under-specced plastic waterpump, so ensure there are no signs of headgasket failure. 
 
• A strong iron block engine was used in the M Roadster and M Coupe models. Some early engines suffered from big-end cap failure, writing off the engine in the process. This should have been rectified under warranty when new, but be sure to check. 
 
• Clever VANOS system, BMW’s version of variable valve timing, is a known weak spot point. If it is on the way out, you will be able to hear a grumbling sound during acceleration. The power delivery will also feel a little flat. It can be very expensive to replace, although some specialists know the system well and can repair certain parts for considerably less. 
 
• Dual-mass flywheel can and will eventually wear out. Genuine BMW parts are expensive, but aftermarket parts can bring down the cost significantly. 
 
• All cars come with a speed-sensitive PAS system, which is trouble free. Watch out for fluid leaks and torn gaiters. Track rod ends wear out regularly. 
 
• Fitting bigger alloy wheels is a very common modification, but can lead to poor ride quality, especially if the suspension has also been lowered. Sticking with a standard set-up is advisable, unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. Look out for poor quality replica wheels, which are often of dangerous quality. 
 
• When checking through the documentation, check to see that the car comes with a spare key, and that it works. If you lose the key it’s an expensive job to reprogram the car to a new set of keys. 
 
Model history 
 
January 1997: The Z3 is launched with a 1.9-litre engine. 
December 1997: 2.8-litre six-cylinder Z3 is offered 
January 1998: The Z3M Roadster arrives, with a muscular M3 engine, wide bodywork and beefed-up suspension. 
September 1998: Tin-top Z3M Coupe, nicknamed ‘Breadvan’, goes on sale. 
April 1999: New 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines are introduced to replace the 1.9-litre unit. Some subtle styling changes are made, including new rear lamps, bumpers and wheel arches. 
June 2000: The 2.8-litre engine is upgraded to 3.0-litres. 
October 2000: Larger 2.2-litre is phased in to replace the 2.0. 
February 2001: Both the 2.2 and 3.0 models can now be bought with sports suspension, 17-inch wheels and upgraded seats. 
June 2001: A new 1.9 Sport Roadster is introduced, with a similar spec to the 2.2 and 3.0 model. 
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.zroadster.net
• zroadster.org
• www.z3mcoupe.com
• www.bmwcarclubgb.co.uk
• www.bimmerforums.com
• www.bmwownersclub.com
 
Summary and prices 
 
If you’re expecting Mazda MX-5 levels of engagement and driver satisfaction, then you might want to look elsewhere, but the BMW Z3 roadster is a classy and interesting weekend cruiser. The M Roadster and M Coupe are an absolute hoot to drive, but are expensive to run and buy. 
 
You will pick up the best normal 2.8 or 3.0-litre six-cylinder cars for around £5000, although there are many on the market for less than £3000. Four-cylinder cars offer the best value. The M-roadster is likely to set you back between £14,000-£18,000, like the M Coupe, but later 2001-2002 models with updated S54 engine are still closer to £30,000.
BMW Z3 BMW Z3 BMW Z3 BMW M Coupe BMW M Coupe
Last updated: 26th Jul 2016
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BMW Z3 cars for sale

21 Search results
BMW Z3
2495 11995 GBP
  • BMW - Z3 1900i - 2001

    €7,800 - €10,140 est. (£6,747 - £8,771.10 est.) €7,800 - €10,140 est. (£6,747 - £8,771.10 est.)
    Online Auction
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Catawiki Auctions
  • BMW Z3 2.8 ROADSTER, JUST 65K MILES, BLACK WITH BLACK LEATHER, SUPERB CONDITION 2000

    £6,995 £6,995

    FACTORY M SPORT SUSPENSION, JUST RE-IMPORTED FROM ISLE OF MAN (EXPORTED FROM UK ORIGINALLY AT 6 MONTHS OLD), Z3M SIDE GRILLS + MIRRORS, E/ROOF, ASC+T, 17" ALLOYS, FULL BLACK LEATHER, FSH, JUST SERVICED + FRESH MOT APPLIED, BEST COLOUR COMBO, 3 OWNERS FROM NEW;;Just arrived is this lovely 2000 registered Pre-facelift Z3 2.8 manual Roadster finished in solid schwarz (black) 2 with full black leather seating. In our view this is the best colour combination and it has also had some nice upgrades over standard that include Z3M Roadster side vents and Mirrors which compliment it extremely well. This example was purchased directly from its last previous keeper who was based on the Isle of Man and we have re-imported it back to the UK. It started its life in the UK (therefore full UK spec) and was exported there at approximately 6 months old. In total it has had only 3 keepers (1 in the UK, 2 on the Isle of Man) and is in lovely, all-round order for its age with no rust as is common. Full Service History and fully inspected and prepared through our BMW Specialist Workshop (please see our website for our reviews - ranked 2nd out of approximately 3,500 Garages Nationwide via Freeindex!). Just serviced and a fresh MOT applied with no advisories. Fully HPI Clear and mileage verified. Original book pack and keys. A very nice manual Z3 2.8 in arguably the best colour combination with a genuine, low mileage. Not to be missed!;;Upgrades - M Sport Suspension, Z3M Side Grills, Z3M Mirrors, Round Spoke Alloys - 17in (2.8), Full Leather - Oregon or Classic (2.8), Chrome Line Exterior, Electric Hood Operation, On-Board Computer, BMW Business RDS, 6 CD Changer, M Sport Steering Wheel, A S C + Traction, Solid Schwarz II (Black), Black Full leather interior;;Next MOT due 08/03/2018, Full service history;;Standard Features - Alarm, Electric Windows (Front), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD), Limited Slip Differential (25%), Front Fog Lights, Soft Top (Black), Electric Seats, Remote central locking, Electric door mirrors, Immobiliser, Power steering, Air Bag Driver. 2 seats

    • Mileage: 65000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW Z3 Z3 2.8 FACELIFT MANUAL ROADSTER, TOPAZ BLUE WITH BLACK LEATHER, FSH, SERVICED PLUS FRESH MOT 2000

    £4,795 £4,795

    FACELIFT MODEL, FULL BLACK OREGON LEATHER ELECTRIC SEATS, AIR CON, ELECTRIC ROOF, PASSENGER AIRBAG, FSH, JUST SERVICED, ELECTRIC ROOF, VERY NICE CONDITION THROUGHOUT;;Just arrived into stock is this lovely 2000/W BMW Z3 2.8i Facelift Roadster finished in metallic Topaz Blue with full black oregon leather seating. Desirable manual model and in excellent mechanical and cosmetic shape. Features include: air conditioning, e/windows, e/mirrors, e/roof (black and in excellent order), on-board computer, M leather steering wheel, star spoke 64 alloy wheels with excellent tyres, remote central locking, alarm with immobiliser, chrome line interior and more. Full Service History and just serviced and prepared through our BMW Specialist workshop (see our reviews on our website! ranked 2nd out of approximately 3,500 garages nationwide via Freeindex!). HPI clear and Mileage Verified through VOSA, Experian and BMW UK. Drives superbly. All in all, a very nice example of this appreciating roadster in a desirable colour combination with the sought after 2.8 engine. Full photos to follow shortly.;;Upgrades - Air-Conditioning, Full Leather - Oregon or Classic (2.8), Sports Steering Wheel, Black Hood, Electric Hood Operation, Metallic Paint, 16" Star Spoke Alloy Wheels (style 64), Chrome Line, On-Board Computer, ASC+T, Passenger Airbag, Next MOT due 07/03/2018, Full service history, Black Full leather interior, Standard Features - Alarm, Alloy Wheels (16in), Electric Windows (Front), Remote central locking, Immobiliser, Front Fog Lights, Power steering, Electric door mirrors, Electric seats. 2 seats, Metallic Topaz Blue

    • Mileage: 94000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.793
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £3,695 £3,695

    FULL SERVICE HISTORY, Full Leather, Anti-Theft System, Remote Central Locking, Electric Seats, Front Fog Lamps, Premium Cloth soft top, Colour Coded Body, Air Bag, ABS, Stability Control, Power Steering, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Radio, 16'' Alloys, Full service history Surely a classic in the making this very tidy and well serviced BMW Z3 1.9 roadster convertible comes with a full service history comprising of 13 services and is in great condition inside & out and drives very well. Finished in silver metallic with red leather it has 16'' alloys, power steering, electric windows and mirrors, remote central locking with alarm, front spots and BMW Audio. All cars are Hpi checked and come with warranty.

    • Mileage: 94000 mi
    • Engine size: 1895
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £2,495 £2,495

    Full Leather, Remote Central Locking, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, ABS, Air Bag, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Power Hood, Alloy wheels, Service history Great value rear wheel drive, 2 door, drop top for some driving fun. Lovely condition and full leather interior. 1.9 petrol engine and automatic gearbox.

    • Mileage: 115000 mi
    • Engine size: 1895
    For sale
  • BMW Z3 2.2 SPORT EDITION AUTO 2002

    £11,995 £11,995

    TIMELESS EXAMPLE OF BMW Z3 2.2 SPORT EDITION. A FACELIFT WIDEBODY CAR WITH OPTION [S278] STYLE 17" STAGERED ALLOYS. FACTORY OPTIONS INCLUDE 25% DIFFLOCK [LSD] M SPORT EXTRAS.THE DESIRABLE POWERED CONVERTIBLE ROOF.AND CODED HARTOP WITH HEATED REAR SCREEN FULL FACTORY BUILD LIST IN IMAGES.;DOCUMENTATION INCLUDE MOST OLD MOTS, FULL OWNERS BOOKPACK,SERVICE BOOK AND INVOICES. AUTOCHECK CLEAR TITLE ALL REGISTERS.AND CLEAR MOT HISTORY;FACTORY WINDBLOCK,TOOLKIT COMPLETE .SPARE KEY; THE CAR PRESENTS VERY WELL IN SAPPHIRE BLACK METALIC. EXCEPTIONAL CONDITION FOR AGE. AS IS THE INTERIOR WITH POWERED LEATHER SPORTS SEATS,CAR STARTS AND DRIVES AS EXPECTED FOR SUCH A LOW MILEAGE EXAMPLE,;;PART EXCHANGE MOST WELCOME RAMP INSPECTIONS BY ARRANGEMENT DELIVERY BY TRANSPORTER;

    • Mileage: 18300 mi
    • Engine size: 2.171
    For sale
  • BMW Z3 2.8

    POA POA

    Absolutely genuine and unmolested Left hand drive. 2 private owners in total from new. Original paint all around. 6.500 genuine kms. Totally original and NO rust underneath. 2 keys and all the manuals are present. Worldwide shipping available.

    • Year: 2000
    • Mileage: 4500 mi
    For sale
  • BMW Z3 Z3 ROADSTER Future Classic Excellent Example Low Miles 1997

    £2,495 £2,495

    BMW Z3 Z3 ROADSTER Future Classic Excellent Example Low Miles finished in Black (Manual), 81,053 miles with black leather interior, an excellent example inside and out, roof in excellent condition including the rear pvc window. previous owner was a car enthusiast and carried out most of the maintenance himself, however we do have various invoices and history prior to the previous owner. Viewing is strongly recommended, Call us today!;;Only GBP 2,495;;viewing is by appointment only, please call the mobile number shown at the top of our website to arrange a time, we welcome evening and weekend appointments. all our vehicles can be viewed indoors so viewing is no problem come rain or shine., ;;all our vehicles include a three month comprehensive in house warranty(details available upon request) nationwide warranties available at trade price!;;part exchange welcome, we can also settle any finance on your current vehicle.;;all major credit and debit cards accepted, (Credit card fees apply.);; All our cars are HPI clear with certificate. Call us : 02392 861731 or 07794 358206

    • Mileage: 81053 mi
    • Engine size: 1.895
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £3,295 £3,295

    Full Leather, Remote Central Locking, Height Adjustable Seat, Power Steering, Air Bag, ABS, Electric Windows, Alloy wheels, Part service history Locally owned Z3 in good condition throughout. Looks great with black bodywork and contrasting red leather interior. Just had new brakes fitted all round. Great value convertible small sports car to have some fun with.

    • Mileage: 90000 mi
    • Engine size: 1895
    For sale
  • 2001 BMW z3

    £4,395 £4,395

    This BMW Z3 is the desirable 2.2 6 cylinder engined model, providing spirited performance accompanied by that lovely straight six soundtrack. Finished in gleaming Titan Silver with black leather electrically adjustable seats and black carpets with overmats. Unmarked 16" alloy wheels with excellent tyres, good service history, quality BMW/ Harman Kardon sound system and a lovely smooth drive. What more could you want for the summer?

    • Year: 2001
    • Mileage: 73500 mi
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £5,995 £5,995

    Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Power Hood, Excellent Condition, Low Mileage, Electric Seats, ABS, 17'' Alloys, Part service history 1998 BMW Z3 2.8 AUTOMATIC Finished in Metallic Silver. Only 52,000 miles with service history and a new MOT . Excellent specification including full Red leather interior with electric seats , New Red Roof , Unmarked 17 '' Split rim Alloys , Power hood , Air conditioning , Electric windows and mirrors , Central locking , Airbags , ABS Brakes . This car is in superb condition throughout and drives fantastic !! 6 months warranty Part exchange welcome - All cards accepted 01372 278 539 - 07940 007 067

    • Mileage: 52000 mi
    • Engine size: 2793
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £5,000 £5,000

    UK Supplied, Air Conditioning, Power Hood, Factory Roll Bars, Full Leather, Heated Seats, Alloy wheels, Full service history

    • Mileage: 100000 mi
    • Engine size: 2979
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £4,890 £4,890

    Full Leather, Wood Trim, Factory Roll Bars, Electric Seats, Trip Computer, Electric Mirrors, Radio, UK Specification, Electric Windows, 16'' Alloys, Full service history 24/11/17 MOT. STUNNING SILVER WITH CLASSIC RED LEATHER COMPLIMENTED WITH FULL WOOD TRIMMINGS. DRIVES BRILLIANTLY. SERVICE HISTORY. QUICK, SMOOTH, SURPRISINGLY ECONOMICAL, GETTING RARE, LOOKS AND DRIVES GREAT ! TEL. ANYTIME. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. CLOSED SUNDAYS. JTN11 M25 CHERTSEY, SURREY. PX CONSIDERED. CARS ALSO PURCHASED.

    • Mileage: 75000 mi
    • Engine size: 2793
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £3,390 £3,390

    CD Player, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, UK Supplied, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Power Steering, Alloy wheels, Full service history GENUINE LOW MILES EXCELLENT CONDITION. A 'MODERN CLASSIC' THAT YOU CAN USE ONE A MONTH OR DAILY. TOUGH, STRONG, SIMPLE, ECONOMICAL, CHEAP TO RUN AND MIGHT BE DEPRECIATION PROOF ! TEL. ANYTIME. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. CLOSED SUNDAYS. JTN11 M25 CHERTSEY, SURREY. PX CONSIDERED. CARS ALSO PURCHASED.

    • Mileage: 54000 mi
    • Engine size: 1895
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £3,995 £3,995

    Full Leather, Power Hood, Low Mileage, Excellent Condition, Factory Hard Top, Electric Front Windows, Electric Mirrors, Electric Seats, Alloy wheels, Full service history 1998 BMW Z3 1.9 Convertible Roadster Finished in Artic Silver. Only 75,000 miles with full service history and a MOT until June 2017. Excellent specification including Full Tanin red leather interior with electric seats , Factory hardtop , windbreak and tonneau cover , Z star alloy wheels , Business cd player , Power hood , Electric windows and mirrors , Remote central locking with alarm , 2 x keys. This car has been in the same family since 2001 and has been maintained very well.Part exchange welcome - All cards accepted01372 278 539 - 07940 007 067www.candccarsales.co.uk

    • Mileage: 75000 mi
    • Engine size: 1895
    For sale
  • BMW Z3

    £2,995 £2,995

    Twin Air Bags, Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Central Locking, Air Bag, Heated Seats, Power Hood, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, CD Player, Radio, Alloy wheels, Service history Get ready for some summer with this Affordable luxury BMW Convertible, To be sold with NEW MOT, Three Year WARRANTY Available.

    • Mileage: 97700 mi
    • Engine size: 1895
    For sale
  • BMW Z3 Z3 2.2I AUTO SPORT ROADSTER, SUPERB CONDITION 2001

    £5,995 £5,995

    **DRIVE AWAY TODAY!** BLACK LEATHER, E/ROOF, E/SEATS + HEATING, FSH, JUST SERVICED, GREAT CONDITION,;;Just arrived into stock is this extremely tidy and rare 2001/51 BMW Z3 2.2i Sport Auto 2dr finished in metallic titan silver with full black leather sports seats. These are getting increasingly rare to find in good order, and more particularly with an automatic gearbox and such a low mileage! Lovingly cared for over the years with a complete service record as well as multiple receipts and previous MOT's to support. Original book pack and 2 x keys. Fully inspected and prepared through our specialist workshop (ranked 2nd out of over 4,500 garages via Freeindex - read our reviews on our website!). Just Serviced and long MOT until June 2017. Extremely good bodywork and interior condition. Warranted low mileage checked with BMW UK, Experian and VOSA. Fully HPI Clear with report. Everything works just as you would expect and drives without fault. Roof also in excellent order. Comprehensive Warranty available.. A rare opportunity to acquire a sought after, genuine sport, 6 cylinder automatic Z3. Not to be missed!;;Standard Features - Alarm, Alloy Wheels (17in), In Car Entertainment (Radio/Cassette), Seats Electric (Driver/Passenger), Upholstery Leather, Sports Seats, Sports Suspension, M Sport Steering Wheel, Limited Slip Differential (25%), Airbags, Roll-Bar Protection, Foglights, BMW Business Stereo, Remote central locking, Anti-Lock Brakes, Electric windows, Electric door mirrors, Leather seats, Black roof. 2 seats, Metallic Titan Silver,;;Upgrades - Electrically Operated Hood, Heated and Electric Seats, BMW Six Disc CD Changer, Wind Deflector, Black Leather;;;

    • Mileage: 76000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.171
    For sale
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