Home » You Can Buy A Rare 330-Horsepower BMW Z4 M Roadster For The Price Of A Gently-Used Miata

You Can Buy A Rare 330-Horsepower BMW Z4 M Roadster For The Price Of A Gently-Used Miata

Bmw Z4 M Roadster Ts1 Copy
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After the hype of a hot new single fades, sometimes an album cut is the best song on the record. It may not be as well-known as the big hit, but it’s often larger than the sum of its parts, a long-lasting statement of passion and emotion. The BMW Z4 M Roadster is the oft-forgotten album cut of the M Car discography, which is a shame because it’s a fire-breathing 330-horsepower weapon of a roadster that’s jam-packed with some of the best M-specific bits ever.

On the other hand, it’s under-the-radar status means that it’s a bit of a bargain. While other golden era M cars have seen roller coaster values over the past few years, Z4 M Roadster pricing has stayed relatively flat. For the keen enthusiast with an eye towards rare, exotic performance cars, this could be a bit of a bargain. In fact, you can pick up a Z4 M Roadster for less than what you’d pay for a good gently-used ND2 Mazda MX-5.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Believe it or not BMW only made 3,041 of these, so you likely won’t pull up next to another Z4 M Roadster at a red light. So, what makes this Bimmer so great, and should you put one on your shortlist? Let’s dig into this underrated sports car from a top-down perspective.

What Are We Looking At?

Bmw Z4 M Roadster Profile

If the E46 M3 is one of the greatest M Cars of all time, the Z4 M Roadster is an even more focused use of that same technology. We’re talking about the 330-horsepower S54B32 3.2-liter inline-six screaming to 8,000 rpm, a limited-slip rear differential, the M3’s rear subframe, and the M3 CSL’s discs, all stuffed into a sharp roadster shell weighing 218 pounds less than that M3. From there, BMW improved on the formula, adding a silky ZF S6-37BZ six-speed manual transmission, an even quicker steering rack, and a more advanced ECU.

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Bmw Z4 M Roadster Interior

The result was a rare ragtop brawler that could run from zero-to-60 mph in a 4.6 seconds during Car And Driver testing, on its way to a limited top speed of 155 mph, all while holding its own in the twisties and delivering an overwhelming amount of that sports car fizz. As Car And Driver put it in a period road test:

The beefy steering wheel transmits detailed road information to the driver’s hands without a hint of kickback, even on rough surfaces. The flow of sensory data from the helm is augmented by supplemental sensations coming from the operator’s visceral regions. The shifter for the ZF six-speed manual gearbox (the previous M roadster had a five-speed) delivers exceptionally crisp engagements. The brake and throttle pedals are ideally located for heel-and-toe work, and the bucket seats keep the driver (and passenger) firmly anchored during hard cornering.

It’s a harder-edged car than an M3, a true specialist in maximizing the sports car ethos. Across the pond, Top Gear Magazine put the livewire nature of the Z4 M Roadster into elegant prose:

Unlike the more realistic prospect of an M3 or M5, cars with as much focus on practicality and distance capability as brutal performance, the compact, two-seat M Roadster exists purely as entertainment, a car in which you hunt out quiet B-roads like some horsepower vigilante hell bent on avenging the congestion of every inch of major asphalt.

If a Mazda MX-5 is the iced coffee of sports cars, the Z4 M Roadster is the full-on double espresso. It’s animalistic where a Porsche Boxster is delicate, always-on when the Honda S2000 has a split personality, and communicative past the point when a Corvette begins to feel a bit numb. It may be a parts bin special, but when the parts bin was one of the best in the business, that’s no compromise.

How Much Are We Talking?

Imola Red Bmw Z4 M Roadster 1

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So, let’s say you’re interested in a gently-used Mazda MX-5. You’re going to want a 2019 or newer ND2 model for the 7,500 rpm redline, and you’re going to want the Club trim for the limited-slip rear differential. That puts the pricing floor at around $24,000, like this one up for sale in Scottsdale. Well hold onto your hats, because you can get a BMW Z4 M Roadster for much, much cheaper than that.

Imola Red Bmw Z4 M Roadster 2

Right off the rip, this gorgeous Imola Red 2008 Z4 M Roadster with 53,000 miles on the clock sold earlier this month on Bring A Trailer for $20,500. It may be a New York car, but it’s incredibly clean underneath, suggesting it lived life as a sunny day machine, possibly never turning a wheel in the snow. Seriously, even the bolts for the plastic underbody trays look nice. What’s more, it has a squeaky clean Carfax, well-kept leather, all of its original literature, and a decent set of Continental Tires that thankfully aren’t original. While maintenance history is a bit of a question mark, it’s still a ton of car for the money.

Interlagos Blue Bmw Z4 M Roadster 1

If you’re looking for confirmation of work, this 2006 Z4 M Roadster in Interlagos Blue sold for $17,750 on Cars & Bids back in October, and it came with evidence of a recent VANOS service. Sure, it may have boasted 94,100 miles on the clock when it sold, and the rear console is a bit janky, but we’re still talking about a seriously quick roadster with a major trouble point addressed for a tantalizing price tag.

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Bmw Z4 M Roadster 1

If you’re less picky about color, this 2006 Z4 M Roadster in Titanium Silver sold on Bring A Trailer for $16,000 back in December. Yep, $16,000. Sure, it may have a whopping 102,000 miles on the clock, but it looks to be in decent shape for its age, came with a clean Carfax, and only had two previous owners. That’s decent pedigree for a vehicle like this.

What Goes Wrong On A BMW Z4 M Roadster?

Bmw Z4 M Roadster Engine

Oh boy. How much time do you have? Let’s start with high-pressure VANOS issues, problems with BMW’s variable valve timing system. Not only can the high-pressure line leak, the seals can go bad, the solenoid coil packs can die, the bearings and thrust washer can wear, the VANOS hub bolts can shear, and tabs on the VANOS hubs themselves can fail in a spectacular manner. As FCP Euro puts that last issue:

When the tabs break, they typically get lodged into the oil pump disc as they rarely fail together. That leaves a relatively large chunk of steel rotating at engine speed without much holding it in. In that situation, you can only hope the AWOL tab stays in the disc until you can pull it out, rather than it getting flung around the timing assembly and potentially wiping out the chain or sprockets.

Needless to say, it’s best to do all the typical VANOS wear components in one go as a preventative refresh. This can be properly expensive with several thousand dollars often spent, but once done, can easily mean you’re good for a decade or longer.

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Another potential issue is the upper exhaust-side timing chain guide, which can suffer from accelerated wear. According to FCP Euro, “BMW never addressed the issue with their own guide and still offers the same exact piece known for wearing in as little as 30,000 miles.” While improved aftermarket options are available, this is a job best bundled with a VANOS refresh given the level of disassembly required. Since we’re still on the top end of the engine, it’s worth mentioning that the head gasket can fail by blowing through between cylinders. While this means that oil and water are unlikely to mix in the event of a head gasket failure, it’s still an expensive issue to have rectified.

Bmw S54b32

While these Z4 M Roadsters were produced late enough to not coincide with the batch of notoriously bad rod bearings in 2001 to 2003 S54 engines, they still can suffer from rod bearing wear like many naturally-aspirated M division engines. Used oil analysis is worthwhile to determine how much copper is in the oil and therefore whether or not the rod bearings are in need of replacement.

It’s also worth noting that a valve adjustment on the S54 engine is recommended every 30,000 miles, that cooling components can leak, and that the strut towers on these cars are a bit thin. A set of reinforcement plates is cheap insurance against mushrooming a front strut tower. Otherwise, you’re more or less looking at general old car maintenance. Bushings and dampers wear out, brakes don’t last forever, that sort of stuff. It’s also worth noting that not all of these things go wrong on every Z4 M Roadster, but they are common enough to warrant mention.

Should You Buy A BMW Z4 M Roadster?

Bmw Z4 M Roadster Rear

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As with any maintenance-intensive M Car, the prospect of BMW Z4 M Roadster ownership can be a case of your brain telling you no but your heart screaming yes. It will inevitably be expensive to run, but it will also bring beaming joy, the ear-to-ear grin of owning a proper animal of a sports car. In a particularly advanced feat of car person maths, one might notice that the Z4 M Roadster is pretty much at the bottom of its depreciation curve, while a gently-used MX-5 isn’t. Sure, the BMW will cost a bundle in repairs, but will repairs be more expensive than depreciation?

If you don’t have time for nonsense, I’d recommend steering away from this hot little Bavarian rocket. It’s a maintenance-intensive vehicle that’s certainly not for the mechanically squeamish. An MX-5 will just work day-in and day-out. A Z4 M Roadster possibly won’t. However, if you can afford to buy in cash with a healthy reserve for running costs and are strictly looking for a second car, it might be worth considering a Z4 M Roadster. These cars are as brilliant to drive as they are expensive to maintain, which in this case, is an astonishing feat.

(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer, Cars & Bids, BMW)

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rctothefuture
rctothefuture
1 month ago

Know a guy who owned a WRX, took it to the track, got beat by an E36. He bought an E36 M3, loved it, modded it, and then he decided he want a “real” M car. So he bought a Z4 M.

He still takes it to the track and races the same E36 that beat him, and it still does occasionally. A friendly reminder that it’s all about the driver, and that convertibles don’t make for as great of a track car.

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
1 month ago

My neighbour has a drop-top Z4 of that generation that lives topless(!) in the driveway during the summer…I’ve never noticed if it’s the M or not though. Maybe I’ll have to strike up a conversation. I also see them watching Stargate SG-1 through the front window so I’ve got another topic…

Noahwayout
Noahwayout
1 month ago
Reply to  Scone Muncher

Probably not a great idea to lead with “so I’ve been watching you through your window”…

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
1 month ago
Reply to  Noahwayout

Their TV is visible from the moon and they use it to watch a show from 25 years ago that’s never been released in HD. I’m gonna lead with it. ????

NotanEngineer
NotanEngineer
1 month ago

My personal experience with M roadster/Coupe is they are an experience to drive. You are getting the S54 at its finest and end of life cycle. I have owned both Z3/4 M roadsters now and at the end of the day I prefer the 1997-2000 S52 M Roadster. Overall I like the S52 platform and it matches well with the car. The S54 will always require more maintenance then the M54/N52/M52/S52. So if you do not want to pay the M tax then do not look at those cars. You would be better off with the 2.5,3.0 Z4 and Z3s. Also remember these cars range from almost being 30 years old to 15 years old. So there is wear and tear. But if you like wrenching and research the common issues with these cars you will have a fun weekend or daily driver.

Tarragon
Tarragon
1 month ago

“What Goes Wrong On A BMW Z4 M Roadster?”
I know I’m late to the comments, but how do you learn this kind of information.
I’m trying to put together a budget for a roaster of some kind and going in knowing this kind of thing would be tremendously helpful.

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
1 month ago
Reply to  Tarragon

My first suggestion would be just to google “BMW Z4 Forums”; that’s how I learned most of what I know about my cars & bikes. Get on, get involved.

(Aside: it’s crazy that 16 hours after posting is considered late to the comments…the nature of internet publishing I guess.)

UberChemist
UberChemist
1 month ago

I’d be remiss not to give a PSA. I was lured in to buy a used 3 series for the price of an Accord. The maintenance and repair costs of a BMW are much higher than a Mazda. I used to love my bimmer and still like it. They’re awesome cars, but those repair bills hurt. Don’t neglect them either, you don’t look cool leaving an oil puddle everywhere you go or driving around with all the warning messages up. If you’re stretching to afford just the purchase price, you can’t afford it, that’s just the opening ante.

Wuzilla
Wuzilla
1 month ago

I think the bigger story here is that you can get a clean 3.0 Z4 for less then a clean NB Miata (or meh fish-face NC Miata). I don’t think I need to quote Miata specs for comparison here, but that gets you ~225 HP, sub 6 second 0-60, a far nicer interior, and many more looks on the street.

I went down this road last year, and was about to settle for a Miata (had a tough year financially – 2 new dog knees drained my fun-car savings to sub ~$10k) after looking at beat-Boxster after beat-Boxster. Didn’t even think about the Z4 until one popped up in FB Marketplace and I realized how “normally” priced they were. Sure, Miata’s have a lot more aftermarket support, and a better chassis. But being 44, the Z4 is a lot more mature.

Also, this would be my 3rd 150k+ M52 motor. I work on them myself, but either I’ve just been lucky, or you all read the internet too much. They’re fine.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
1 month ago

Despite having a decent chassis and an excellent engine, I feel like the Z4 M-Roadster is really let down by the crappy interior. This was the era when BMW started cost-cutting hard, and it shows. There’s a ton of hard plastic, everything rattles, and stuff just falls apart. They also ride like absolute garbage, which is compounded by the fact that you’re quite literally sitting on the rear axle. The rear multilink suspension is great, but the economy car front suspension was really showing its age by the time the Z4 came out (it uses the big L-shaped control arms from the E46, which date back to the E30).

Oh and the convertible tops are piles of crap that are perpetually breaking in a myriad of ways, like the rear window falling off, microswitches failing, or hydraulics failing. If you get the Z4 M-Coupe you get to avoid all of that, with bonus rattles coming from the rear hatch.

I’ve worked on and driven a ton of non-M Z4’s, Z4 M-Roadsters, and a couple of Z4 M-Coupes, so that’s my reference. While I generally didn’t enjoy driving them all that much, I absolutely loved working on them, as there is SO much room in the engine bay all around.

One fun fact is that to do the fuel pump or level sender (which cracks and leaks), you have to 1. remove the exhaust 2. remove several heat shields and 3. drain the entire tank to empty before opening the access panel from the underside (and you’ll still get doused in gas).

Roofless
Roofless
1 month ago

That generation of BMW gear is costly, but it’s so, so worth it. I’ve got an E46 ‘vert – my wallet bleeds every time I have to take it into the shop, but goddamn, getting back in and driving it off once it’s sorted is the automotive equivalent of make-up sex.

UberChemist
UberChemist
1 month ago
Reply to  Roofless

Lol, preach brother! I’m married so that was the only action I was getting for awhile after paying that bill.

RataTejas
RataTejas
1 month ago
Reply to  Roofless

Thirded. I have an ’01 vert as well. Just got VANOS’d but have a good independent close by. Luckily mine is an early ’01 and before the bearing failures. Biggest problem is finding time to drive it.

Eric Smith
Eric Smith
1 month ago

My mother got a post-mid-life-crisis Z3 that I drove a few times and have always considered it one of the worst looking (and in my limited experience, worst driving) cars BMW ever made.

I still get a kick when I see a Z4 on the road. Great looking car. Too bad it’s got so many gremlins as I’d consider one for my own post-mid-life-crisis convertible.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

The non-M variant ain’t too bad.

Joe
Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  Eric Smith

I have a Z4M coupe and the comments are blowing maintenance costs out of proportion. Rod bearings and vanos is likely a job done at 75k-100k miles. Around $3k depending on shop. Then you got valve adjustments and fluids that are more regular interval items. The S54 is a pretty solid and reliable engine once you take care of the big ticket items, which again you’ll probably do once during your ownership of the car. It’s not even that expensive all things considered.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
1 month ago

The problem is the money you save will go into fixing the BMW and then some. Nice car but a wallet draining exercise.

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
1 month ago
Reply to  Arrest-me Red

Quite many of the main BMW issues boils down to fluids (pun intended). Do not follow the factory maintenance schedule, but change the oils and fluids max half the recommended interval. And with AWD and slush boxes change the oils prediod, they are lifetime stuff even though ZF recommends every 80tkm max. And front diffs go like candy if one doesn’t attend to it. It’s got only few dl of oil with no way to change it in the car. And removing it requires lifting the engine few cm :D.

But that’s the shitty philosophy that 100tkm should be “cheap” to maintain. Looks good on European magazine comparisons what comes to usage costs and anyho nobody in Germany owns car past 100tkm.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
1 month ago

I really loved German cars, until I learned what maintenance was.

V10omous
V10omous
1 month ago

It’s very telling that the “You can buy an X for the price of a Y” article genre always always always features the same type of vehicles as the X.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago
Reply to  V10omous

Would you prefer “you can buy a Toyota Sienna for the price of a nice new bicycle”?

Because I think David took care of that!

Slow In Slow Out
Slow In Slow Out
1 month ago

The temptation is there, but I’m just not ready to take on the risk of these out of warranty BMW turbo engines. Just this week I was thinking about how much I miss my NB Miata and I’m seriously toying with trading in my Veloster N for an ND Club. My partner just got a GTI, so we don’t actually need two hatchbacks, right??

If I do the used BMW thing I might get a slow but fun 128i coupe.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
1 month ago

Fortunately, or unfortunately, these used the naturally aspirated S54B32, which is a sweet, sweet engine…when it isn’t having all the issues mentioned above. The power band is nice and smooth, and honestly much more exciting to drive than the turbo engines that followed.

Electric Truckaloo (formerly Stig’s Chamorro Cousin)
Electric Truckaloo (formerly Stig’s Chamorro Cousin)
1 month ago

The S52B52 is in fact naturally-aspirated, and it spins up to the moon (8k RPM) and its issues are actually somewhat more problematic than the successor turbos of N54 and N55.

The latter two have considerably beefier bottom ends and, of course, turbos – twin turbo in the 54 and twin-scroll single in the 55. There is much argument over which of those two is more of a grenade, but it’s generally accepted that they are still heavily overbuilt and can take boost (to a point) if you’re so inclined on destruction. I had a 1-series with the N54 and it was a peach of an engine.

Previously, I owned the S52B52’s stunt-double in the non-M3 year of 2003 – the M54B20 – in a ZHP E46. It was delightful to drive, when it worked, but as the author says, VANOS issues are many, and the ‘03 ZHP (inaugural year of that spec) was a bit of a nightmare. Mine was a lemon, but I stuck with it. It is forever nicknamed The Precious.

This is just a long way of saying don’t buy one unless you want a relatively expensive maintenance queen on your hands. Delightful to drive, though – incredibly engaging cars.

Slow In Slow Out
Slow In Slow Out
1 month ago

Thank you for all the info that I didn’t know! This is exactly why I have no business buying old Bimmers!

I’d be willing to educate myself but I don’t need yet another hobby. Keeping them in the category of cars I don’t need to own, just need access to.

Last edited 1 month ago by Slow In Slow Out
Electric Truckaloo (formerly Stig’s Chamorro Cousin)
Electric Truckaloo (formerly Stig’s Chamorro Cousin)
1 month ago

Be brave. Be bold. Be poor. The ultimate driving machine and money pit.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

*S54B32 😉

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago

Have been eyeing the 3.0S variant lately and wondering if I could put up with the roadster-the more reliable N52 still makes 255 hp and is good for a low 5 sec 0-60 with far fewer of the expensive maintenance issues of the S54 and even lower purchase prices-low teens for a clean one. Unfortunately coupe versions of the Z4 M go for quite a bit more than the roadsters.

Bobblehead
Bobblehead
1 month ago

Smart. Three liter cars are more fun and less cost. 2.5 is also big fun especially early cars with shorter final drive. M Roadster is overhyped.
Source: lots of Z miles

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

I own a 3.0i (pre face lift) and I do think it’s the sweet spot between fun and affordable.

The steering will be worse than a Z4M because it’s electrically assisted (like an S2000 but noone ever mentions this flaw in the Honda), and you’re missing out on a lot of rpms, but the fuel savings and reasonable-ish maintenance is a worthy trade off I think.

You’re still saddled with a brittle cooling system (ask me how I know), the brakes suck (but one can fix that), the Disa valve can shit the bed in a spectacular fashion (but can be addressed for 100$), the Vanos may leak but otherwise it’s a standard car to maintain.

Also, the trunk is very roomy for a convertible and you can go on a one week vacation with your significant other. It’s a bit more than a canyon carver without being a full on GT either.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
1 month ago

The execution of EPAS on the Z4 (and every other non-M BMW) is atrocious, though, whereas cars like the S2000, RX-8, FR-S/86, and Boxster were comparatively great. I had a Z4 3.0si Coupe and 3 of the vehicles that I just mentioned (still have the 981 Boxster S). I simply don’t understand how BMW, of all companies, failed at EPAS tuning for so long.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago

I’ve driven an S2000 twice and don’t recall thinking that the steering feel was especially bad whereas at least on the F30 3 series I’ve driven it’s pretty dead (even if it is well weighted it’s not telling you what anything is doing) it is really disappointing that BMW of all companies didn’t execute better.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

Yeah it’s aweful from factory. You can make tweaks though. Getting rid of the run flat tires made a sensible difference, and good shock helped too (Bilstein B8).

You can also reduce the gearing preload which can make the steering “stick”. It’s a small job that makes a big difference.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
1 month ago

Run-flats were immediately gone.
I wouldn’t call the B8 a “good” shock, but an OEM+ replacement.
I’m kindof curious about this steering gear preload you mention. Any links to info on that?

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

Some guy on a forum made a nice document with an analysis and procedure to fix it. It’s in french though:

https://web.tresorit.com/l/GGpxt#mdzMJepQL1OYUpD8_PaLrA

AndI know the B8 isn’t world shattering, but here in France car mods are basically forbidden so it was a compromise to remain street legal.

Last edited 1 month ago by Manuel Verissimo
Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago

Good to know-I’m used to the shit cooling system I had an e46 3 series for a while (sigh) good point on the steering I didn’t realize until watching a retrospective review recently that the S2000 had electric steering assist. Honestly my main reservation is living in the Pacific Northwest without a garage I’m worried a soft top is something I both won’t use much and will quickly age parked outside full time in the wet. But as all the true early ’00s M cars have become unobtanium for my budget the Z4 3.0 seems like a likely future classic that is probably about at the bottom of its depreciation curve and will only go up in value and quite a bang for the buck that is at least the rival of the e36 M3 in performance.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

How about a 3.0si coupe then?

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago

They seem to be incredibly rare-though I would seriously consider if I saw one for sale, imo might be the best looking Bangle era car. I suppose on that note I should also be shopping 128i as well, supposedly it’s an intake swap and software reflash to get it up to the 255 hp euro/NA Z4 spec.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

They are rare but not impossible to find. And you’re pretty guaranteed to stand out 😉

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
1 month ago

Great cars with a Motorsport engine and hydraulic steering (unlike the non-M variants). I’ve had 3 BMW Z cars (all non-M) and was looking to get back into a roadster. They’re great value and fun, but I spent more and tried a 981 Boxster S this time around. I didn’t want to have to futz with the S54 issues described here. I happened to find a great spec car and don’t regret it one bit. I still have a Z3 Coupe 🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Anthony Magagnoli
Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago

How has the rest of the maintenance been on the Boxster though (suppose this depends on your mileage)? I’ve been eyeing 987 Caymans as they’re becoming pretty approachable in price-easier to find one in clean condition with low miles than an M3 or M coupe at this point.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
1 month ago

I bought it with 81k and previous track use and it has 91k or so on it now. The only issue has been an active driveline mount that has failed. They were replaced before I bought it at $1400/ea and seem to fail randomly. I haven’t bothered to replace it. So, overall, it’a been great. No IMS bearing issues with the direct injection motors.

Jared Johnson
Jared Johnson
1 month ago

Don’t spoil it, Thomas! I was able to pick one of these up a few years ago and have learned to wrench on it. While I leave the big projects to my local Indy shop (rod bearings, VANOS), the Z4M is actually a really pleasant car to work on. Much more space in the engine bay than many modern cars so it’s actually not too much of a pain in the butt to do most things.

It’s the last of the truly analog M-cars, and makes for a rewarding second car. A bit harsh for a daily driver if anyone’s thinking about it though.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago
Reply to  Jared Johnson

The 3.0i is a fine daily though.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
1 month ago

I’ll take an S52 powered Z3 M roadster instead. The S52 is comparatively bulletproof with no e of the issues described in this article. Plus the Z3 is a variant of the e36, meaning parts are plentiful and cheap.

Anthony Magagnoli
Anthony Magagnoli
1 month ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

Just secure your oil pump nut!

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
1 month ago

<In my best Barney Fife voice:> “Who you callin’ a nut?”

Jared Johnson
Jared Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

S52 is definitely low maintenance by comparison. Plus the Z3 just has a classic look the Z4 doesn’t. Z4 is one of the best Bangle era cars though.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

Isn’t it an unholy mix of E36 and E30 though?

The Z4 on the other hand is an E46, parts are rather easy to find.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

Hrnnnngggggggggg the interlagos blue. What I really need to complement my unfortunately silver 03 non-M is a nice interlagos blue one to switch over to when the other isn’t running…

I’ll get my checkbook

RataTejas
RataTejas
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Don’t sleep on Carbon Black, which is actually blue, unless it’s night, or deep shade.

Wezel Boy
Wezel Boy
1 month ago

I guess the main problem with these cars is they are fugly.

Dalton
Dalton
1 month ago
Reply to  Wezel Boy

You’re out of it, these look fantastic.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago
Reply to  Wezel Boy

They are the best bangle design BMW put out, but they are still a Bangle design.

I love em, but I understand it’s not for everyone.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Refresh my memory didn’t the Fiat 124 Spider have an equal model? Didn’t it fail in sales spectacularly despite only body being different. If so can the Fiat 124 Spider equivalent be bought even cheaper?

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The Fiata is weirdly nerfed. It has like 20-30 less horsepower than the Miata depending on model year. There also seems to be a higher proportion of automatics for some reason and putting an automatic in a car like that should literally be illegal…although this is based solely off listings I’ve browsed, I don’t have the actual numbers.

However, they’re cheaper than comparable Miatas, especially if you can live with the base spec, and they look pretty damn good. You’ll see decent enough ones for under $15,000 every now and then, although the one you really want is the Abarth because it gets all the handling goodies and Brembos from the higher spec (I think touring trim?) Miatas.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

I test drove one. It ran great looked great but white and automatic. But the damn price isn’t going down. Unsold new ones still asking above ask. But not in good spec

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I just browsed local listings for them and 3/4 of them are automatics. Barf.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago

Definitely

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

If I recall correctly, they used a smaller turbo engine than the Miatas NA 4cyl. So they have a different feel. Maybe also some very minor handling tweaks. There’s a video on YouTube with Jason Cammisa doing a pretty good comparison of the two.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 month ago
Reply to  Ariel E Jones

They used the same engine that’s in the 500Abarth. A 1.4l turbo. Strangely paired to basically the same 6-speed from the NC Miata, which was a fantastic transmission.
A different character to the ND Miata, but similar performance specs. The numbers don’t tell the whole story.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

I have a friend who purchased a new 124 Abarth, the turbo engine is very good, it looks fantastic and is a delightful car to drive. Sounds great too with the optional Abarth exhaust. The only fault I could find with the 124 Abarth is the complete lack of legroom for a passenger, the length of the footwell is surprisingly short. I have sat in an ND and has the same issue though. I’m not kidding when I say that the passenger leg room must be 4-6 inches less than my Austin Healey Sprite, both with the seats moved fully back.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

Screw passengers lol

Jared Johnson
Jared Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This guy gets it. Roadsters are for the driver.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
1 month ago

The Ultimate Emotional Support Machine. You can’t take it with you, enjoy this mortal vassal while you can. A S54 at limiter would make Mosart pick up accounting.

StraightSixSymphony
StraightSixSymphony
1 month ago

Hell yeah, brother.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

The answer is still Miata.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Yes. These M cars are a perfect example of yeah you could, but you really shouldn’t. Mainly because of the existence of that car you mentioned.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

The BMW tax might almost be worth it for the uber cool Z4 M Coupe that removed the hideous duck tail and added a sweeping roofline that actually complements the weird side sculpting. And it drives better.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 month ago
Reply to  Chronometric

I’d sell my firstborn for an M Coupe in Interlagos Blue. That might even cover some of the maintenance costs.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 month ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Can I get a carfax on your firstborn? We may be able to do business. Just joking

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Or was he?

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 month ago

I think this falls under a classic case of Username Checks Out.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

One owner. Well maintained. Can’t say there weren’t any accidents.

Angel "the Cobra" Martin
Angel "the Cobra" Martin
1 month ago

Rod bearings as a wear item? Adjusting valves? If this were a car made by the General it would be laughed out of existence.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 month ago

I want to love BMW stuff from this era because it was so influential for me during my journey to becoming an enthusiast, but alas…I think the S54 is best admired at a distance. All of the high revving naturally aspirated M engines are an absolute nightmare to own.

If you’re very mechanically inclined and/or are fine spending thousands every year to keep them running then by all means take the plunge. You’d certainly have my respect and admiration. But that’s a whole lot of effort and money for a weekend toy. I could understand taking that plunge if you’re buying an M car you can conceivably daily, but for a two seat roadster?

It’s a disappointing no dice from me. I’d personally rather have the Miata or S2000. You can have most of the fun without having to worry about grenading something that’ll cost you $3,000 every time you kiss redline…not to mention there are manual C5s and even some C6s out there for similar money that’ll be way less of a hassle and give you access to God’s own engine.

Last edited 1 month ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
1 month ago

The Z4 3.0i (non M) is a fine daily, and 231hp are nothing to scoff at.

These are the reasonably fuel efficient and non-maintenance nightmare version of the Z4M, for a fraction of the price.

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