Sali­vat­ing over the new Z4? Here’s how to find a mint orig­i­nal ex­am­ple


Motor (Australia) - - POWER. PERFORMANCE. PASSION. -

AF­TER THE rel­a­tively svelte Z3, the first-gen­er­a­tion Z4 – un­veiled in 2002, with sales be­gin­ning in 2003 – looked rad­i­cal. Gone was the con­ven­tional de­sign and in came ‘flame sur­fac­ing’ with a mix of curves and an­gled shut lines, cour­tesy of de­signer An­ders Warm­ing, over­seen by Chris Ban­gle. The Z4’s bodyshell was more than twice as stiff as its pre­de­ces­sor’s to re­duce scut­tle shake, and the han­dling was aided by so­phis­ti­cated multi-link rear sus­pen­sion. Th­ese days, you can buy one of th­ese cars from just $10,000 – here’s how to en­sure it’s a good ’un. En­gines ranged from un­der­pow­ered fours (over­seas) to nat­u­rally as­pi­rated and turbo straight sixes with power lev­els from as low as 110kW all the way up to 252kW for the Z4M. All Z4s got a man­ual gear­box as stan­dard, gen­er­ally with six speeds, but some­times with five. Some en­gines were also avail­able with an auto, again, usu­ally with five or six gears. Most Z4s have some op­tions fit­ted, but few have a lot of them. Those worth seek­ing out in­clude heated seats and xenon lights. Blue­tooth and cruise con­trol can also be use­ful, while sports seats are more com­fort­able than the reg­u­lar chairs; sports seats are easy to source and fit, though. BODY­WORK Cor­ro­sion shouldn’t be an is­sue on any Z4. If there are any signs of rust it’s al­most cer­tainly be­cause of poorly re­paired crash dam­age, so in­spect the panel gaps closely; they should be tight and even through­out. The ex­pan­sive bon­net is made of alu­minium and can get dented by stones. The cheap­est fix will be to buy a used bon­net and (if nec­es­sary) get it re­painted. Look for signs of dam­age to the front and rear bumpers, which are large and get scraped. If a re­place­ment front bumper is needed the bill can eas­ily run to $1800 with paint­ing and fit­ting. If an elec­tri­cally op­er­ated roof is fit­ted you need to check it works prop­erly. The mo­tor that con­trols ev­ery­thing gets flooded if a pre­vi­ous owner failed to clear the roof drains. The mo­tor hous­ing can be mod­i­fied or moved to al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem. Bud­get $1100 or more to get the prob­lem fixed at a BMW dealer, but there are lots of fo­rum en­thu­si­asts who could help fix the prob­lem for far less.

’03 TO ’09 E85/E86 Used price range Z4 $9000 to $30,000

OILY BITS En­gine faults are rel­a­tively un­usual. Any en­gine that’s not run­ning prop­erly should be plugged into a di­ag­nos­tic com­puter which should pin­point any prob­lems. If the 2.0, 2.5 Si and 3.0 Si en­gines get too warm for com­fort it’s prob­a­bly be­cause the elec­tric wa­ter pump is on its way out. The Z4’s run­ning gear was taken from the E46 3 Series, which means there’s a ready sup­ply of parts and used en­gines. The vari­able in­take man­i­fold (DISA valve) can fail, given away by a rat­tle from the man­i­fold once the plas­tic com­po­nents have bro­ken up; there will also be a lack of top-end power or low-end torque (or both), de­pend­ing on the po­si­tion in which it has failed. Camshaft sen­sors also fail – stick with gen­uine BMW parts as pat­tern sen­sors tend not to be as ro­bust. The 2.5- and 3.0-litre en­gines can use oil; of­fi­cially a litre of lu­bri­cant ev­ery 1600km is fine. If you see vis­i­ble smoke on start up or when ac­cel­er­at­ing hard it could be a split crank­case ven­ti­la­tion (CCV) valve or a stick­ing pis­ton oil con­trol ring. Any car still on its orig­i­nal sus­pen­sion is likely to need some TLC by now, not least of all be­cause the rear springs are prone to break­ing, given away by knock­ing as the car is driven; some­times the car sits low at one cor­ner. It’s not a costly prob­lem to fix, but when you’re get­ting the work done it’s worth also re­plac­ing the rear damper mounts. Ex­pect wear in the front con­trol arms and ball joints, lead­ing to vague steer­ing, while creak­ing from the front may be down to the di­ag­o­nal front strut braces work­ing loose. If the rear sus­pen­sion wan­ders about on bumps it’s prob­a­bly be­cause the bushes in the trail­ing arms need re­plac­ing. It’s worth get­ting a wheel alignment, es­pe­cially if any­thing in the sus­pen­sion has been re­placed. Vague­ness is some­times at­trib­uted to the elec­tric power steer­ing fit­ted to all Z4s (the Z4M got a hy­draulic sys­tem), but it’s rare. The elec­tric PAS can suf­fer from stiff­ness, the cure for which can be as sim­ple as lu­bri­cat­ing the univer­sal joints or ad­just­ing the ring that con­trols the elec­tric mo­tor/col­umn. The worst-case sce­nario is a new rack, which costs around $4500 new. Brake prob­lems only crop up on cars that have been driven hard, and even then, the ex­tent of any is­sues should be just worn discs and pads. M models have E46 M3 CSL brakes. Run-flat tyres were fit­ted to all Z4s apart from the Z4M. It’s not un­usual to find a Z4 that’s been switched to reg­u­lar tyres, as th­ese are cheaper and pro­vide a more com­fort­able ride. Be­cause there’s no space for a spare wheel you’ll have to set­tle for a can of sealant and a com­pres­sor in­stead. TRIM AND ELECTRICS The Z4 is es­sen­tially very well built, but squeaks and rat­tles aren’t rare. It’s pos­si­ble to elim­i­nate them, but this is best done on a DIY ba­sis. The headlights could be the weedy halo­gens or the brighter and more ef­fec­tive xenons. Xenon lights can be iden­ti­fied by their lack of cock­pit height ad­just­ment. Nei­ther is prone to prob­lems but if the lat­ter is fit­ted make sure they func­tion prop­erly, in­clud­ing the self-lev­el­ling sys­tem. With re­place­ment xenon headlights priced at around $1100 you re­ally don’t want to have to re­place one. If items such as the elec­tric win­dows, wipers or cen­tral lock­ing are play­ing up it’s prob­a­bly a fail­ure of the GM5 mod­ule which sits be­hind the glove­box. It’s cheap enough to fix as just two re­lays in the mod­ule have to be re­placed, but check the main bat­tery first as once this starts to fail it can pro­duce the same symp­toms. In­ci­den­tally, not al­low­ing the bat­tery to go flat is a good idea. If it has gone flat and the car has been left in trans­port mode from new (the ECU should have been up­dated so this mode is deleted rather than dis­abled), the car might refuse to run prop­erly. Buy wisely and the Z4 is great drop-top fun.

TWO Third brake lights crack from be­ing over­tight­ened, while the door han­dles can stick in the open po­si­tion if not lubed

ONE E85/E86 Z4 in­te­rior is sim­ple and at­trac­tive, and one of the last of preiDrive era

FOUR Lovely speedo and tacho have as­sumed a mod­ern clas­sic look

THREE It’s worth buy­ing a car with a wind de­flec­tor; new ones are avail­able for around $250

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