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briano72 10-11-2012 09:41 AM

New z3 owner - my z3 story
Just wanted to share my z3 story.

I've been without a sports car since 2009. I really wanted a boxster but they were just a little too expensive. I never really considered the z3 because the price difference between it and the boxster was only a few thousand dollars.

I had been checking out craigslist everyday for interesting BMWs and Porsches. A few inexpensive z3s started showing up. first a $4,500 red one. it was kind of far away and a 4 cylinder so i didn't look at it. then a silver one with a hardtop showed up for $3,000 but it didn't run and was a 4 cylinder (if i was going to get a z3 it had to be a 6). Then a black with tan interior 1999 2.3 automatic with 140k showed up and I went to look at it.

The car was listed for sale by owner but it really was at a dealership. The craigslist ad said it was a mechanic special.

when i got to the dealership the car looked pretty good except for the rear window. it had 2 holes in it and you could not see through it (thank you Texas sun). The paint did look good. for a 13 year old black car in Texas, it had to have been garaged most of it's life. The front bumper was all pitted and needed to be re-painted. and there were a few small dents here and there. the engine compartment and interior were covered in a layer of dust. the seats were in good condition with little wear and no rips or tears. both door pulls need to be fixed and the window lift mechanisms need to be looked at.

I got into the car for the test drive and it fired right up and the a/c worked. we started out and one of the wheels made a vmm vmmm vmm sound each revolution. the salesman thought it was an unbalanced tire. All of the lights on the dash were on (ABS, traction control, check engine, worn brake pads, and airbag). when we stopped at a light the a/c stopped working (it would only work when the car was moving). and the fan would only blow on high speed. but the car felt good.

I've owned a couple of 318ti's so i had some general knowledge of the e36 platform and i decided to buy it. i did not know how much a new rear window would cost but i estimated $300. I figured it would be $1,000 to get the car in good runing order.

the car was $3,000 + tax, title and dealer fees, for a total of $3,500. which i thought was reasonable for a 6 cylinder z3.

As i was driving it home the traction control and check engine lights went out (ALL RIGHT 2 problems solved!).

I got it home and started looking for a rear window. found out that the window zips out and costs $85. so i ordered one. the next day i started looking the car over. I tried to get the wheels off, but they were stuck on (strange for a Texas car). so i ordered some parts that i thought i would need (oil filter, spark plugs, etc).

I took the car to discount tire to have them pull the wheels off. after that i got home, took the wheels off, and found out that the car had new brakes front and rear. the brake pad sensor wire had been cut, causing the brake pad light to come on (another easy fix).

the wires for the aux fan (causing the a/c not to work when the car stops) were disconnected, so i re-connected them.

the new rear window came and it took me and my wife about 45 minutes to install it.

So far I've:
replaced 2 rubber intake boots
air filter
fuel filter
brake pad sensor
center mounted brake light seal
oil change
transmission fluid
brake fluid
rear window
misc plastic trim
wheel center caps
front roundel
blower fan resistor
windshield wipers

i need to fix the ABS light, airbag light (seat belt receptcle), spark plugs, door pulls, window mechanisms, glovebox sag, and replace a few more roundels.

i'm up to about $1,200 right now including new tires (kuhmo ecsta $400) and a dinan strut tower brace

the car has the following options: tan leather, power top (black), wood trim, automatic transmission, cd player, cruise control, fog lights, and an alarm system

the car is just fantastic. it's a true sports car and a blast to drive.
I've never owned a convertible and i am loving every minute of it.
I also own a 2011 e90 328. when i come to a stop in the 328, i can feel a vibration through the seat. there is absolutly no vibration in the z3. amazing!

i'm glad i purchased it.



jafxdwg 10-11-2012 10:10 AM

A great story !
You are very lucky to have avoided some sort of hidden disaster with a 13 year old car of any marque.
I'd buy a lottery ticket asap :)

Hornedfrog1969 10-11-2012 12:16 PM

Yeah, great story. Its good to see some of these old cars getting the attention and care they deserve. Good luck with the rest of your repairs.

deholt 10-11-2012 01:25 PM

I too bought a 2001 Z3 roadster. She is sweet, but the same thing. I got the car the back window was bad and had a hole in the bottom of window stitching out. I thought ok new window. My husband took my sweet ride to a top shop, low and behold, he showed my husband that the stitching was gone in the top which actually looked good, and it would cost almost as much to put in new window as to put new top on. So 975.00 later, new top and window WOW. I also had rear brakes replaced and new plugs put in. The check engine light has been on since I left the lot. I went back after driving the car off and the guy turned it off again, but did not turn the car off. The light was off but when I stopped at a rest stop on my way back home 3.5 hours away the light came back on. I took car to local mechanic and he ran codes, he is not a factory trained mechanic, but had computer to check. I still have the check engine light on and DSC light and brake light and airbag red light is on. I am taking the car to a factory trained mechanic next week and will wait to see what is next. I love the car and it drives great, I hope I don't get left beside the road before I can get it in. Everything works on the car including radio, air, heat, and electric seats. I am going really loving this car and I will continue to bring her back to life.

briano72 10-11-2012 07:07 PM

1 Attachment(s)
pic of car (that is if i attached it correctly)


smayo964 10-12-2012 11:05 AM

hey Briano72! Congrats on your find. Noticed in the picture that all your emblems are "unglued". LOL You can search the web and get the center caps for about $15ea. I know the the other emblems are out there, but not sure of the price. Good luck on the restore. Car looks great. Good steal!

rrdogface 10-12-2012 05:51 PM

Wow you took a chance on that one. (I don't trust dealers). But looks like you did ok. Hope you enjoy it for years to come.

briano72 10-12-2012 08:56 PM

I've replaced the wheel roundels. I have the body ones just haven't got to them yet. Got then off eBay for $1.50 each. Not oem quality. But good enough.


81Sumer 10-14-2012 12:30 PM

Seat Belt receptacle
1 Attachment(s)
Hi Briano72, You mentioned that you need to replace the seat belt receptacle, mine is broken on the passenger side, would you have found a place to obtain a replacement, (I tried Pelican parts) Note I just traded my K1200LT motorcycle for a 2000 Z3 2.3, can't drive it yet as it's raining :cry: can't bring myself to get it dirty on first trip. Thanks Terry

briano72 10-15-2012 07:25 AM

I have not done the research yet. I'll post when I get it figured out


DeathFromAbv 10-17-2012 07:56 AM

Thanks for sharing, looks great!

Z3Droptop 10-17-2012 07:46 PM

I also bought a Z3 this year. Mine was not a gamble I bought it from an elderly co-worker. I have been telling him for years to let me know when he's ready to sell. I almost passed on the car because the air bag light was on. Bought it anyway and it was one of the best moves. The fun to cost ratio is over the top, a true sports car!!

6K miles later air bag light is still on probably the seat belt recepticale but I,ve been spending my cash on fuel I'll have it repaired when I comes out of winter storage in april.

briano72 10-18-2012 05:31 AM

Yes the fun to cost ratio is very very good


amancuso 10-18-2012 07:02 AM

Hi Brian, welcome. I too have a 2.3iA. People always poo on our automatics but when driven correctly, they shine! For your seat belt recepticle problem, it could be the cable that attaches to it. If you look down between the seat and the console, you will see a plug directly on the top. That plug does not seat very well and should have a zip tie around it to keep it seated. I would start by removing it, using some electrical contact cleaner/enhancer and then reseating, re ziptieing and then clear the code.

Lots of luck!

briano72 10-18-2012 05:46 PM

Thank you for the advice. I will check out the plugs this weekend.
I really like to automatic. It's very sporty. I don't think I'd own the car if it didn't have an auto. My wife doesn't drive a manual and it was a much easier purchase decision because of the auto.

Thanks again


Z3Droptop 10-24-2012 09:58 AM

Brian great story by the way. Al thx for the seat belt repair tip I will try it this weekend.

morrieschoice 11-18-2012 04:39 PM


Originally Posted by Z3Droptop (Post 7141441)
I also bought a Z3 this year. Mine was not a gamble I bought it from an elderly co-worker. I have been telling him for years to let me know when he's ready to sell. I almost passed on the car because the air bag light was on. Bought it anyway and it was one of the best moves. The fun to cost ratio is over the top, a true sports car!!

6K miles later air bag light is still on probably the seat belt recepticale but I,ve been spending my cash on fuel I'll have it repaired when I comes out of winter storage in april.

The air bag light probably needs to be reset...requires a special reset tool that can be purchased or maybe take it to a auto parts store to see if they cannot do it for you.

mr29 11-18-2012 04:44 PM

glad to see a great bimmer fix up story have tons of fun in the car!

Sent from my XT557 using Bimmer App

briano72 11-19-2012 05:27 AM

The car is a blast to drive


briano72 12-29-2012 03:38 PM

just an update on my z3.

i got the door handles back on the door panels with some epoxy and a few screws. I put some grease on the window tracks and now the windows are working again. I also replaced the exterior door handle gaskets and got the passenger side exterior door handle to work.

then i cleaned the door panels with a magic eraser and conditioned the door panel leather (high quality leather I might add) with leatherique.

next i changed the differential fluid and replaced the missing driver side wheel well liner.

then i changed out the suspension including the lower control arms and bushings. I put on bilstein "touring" struts up front with the stock springs and kyb shocks in the back with the stock springs. i also added a Dinan front strut tower brace. car rides great.

now i need to investigate the transmission warning light, abs light, glovebox sag, put in new 5.25" speakers in the kick panels (pioneer), and strengthen the cracked dead pedal by putting in a metal one.


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