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E36/7 Z3 (1996-2002)
E36/7 Z3 Roadster, Z3 coupe, Z3 M Roadster and Z3 M Coupe talk with our gurus here.

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  #1  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:54 AM
mirage2130 mirage2130 is offline
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M Roadster Advice

As you can tell, I am brand new to the forum. I was hoping someone would be able to help me out a little. My wife and I are currently in the market for an M roadster, originally between the years 2000-2002. Lately however we have been coming across some really nice 1998s.

Can anyone shed some light on this year for me? I would really appreciate some first hand advice. Do you think this would be a good year to buy, or should I stick with 2000 and up? Cosmetically, I can tell right away that the tail lights are slightly different with amber lenses as opposed to the white.
Thank you very much.
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  #2  
Old 09-01-2011, 11:06 AM
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Swanicyouth Swanicyouth is offline
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Go by mileage, condition, and maintenance records. Thats more important than year.
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  #3  
Old 09-01-2011, 12:23 PM
dadmog dadmog is offline
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I have a 98 M Roadster. 1998-2000 have 240 BHP (S52 engine)vs 315 BHP in 2001 & 2002 (S54 engine) .
No traction control on the early cars, and less horsepower, but engine is less stressed and somewhat less maintainance (like valve adjustments unnecessary with hydraulic lifters)
I've never felt my 98 S52 was underpowered, but if you feel more is better, go for it!
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  #4  
Old 09-01-2011, 01:31 PM
chickdr chickdr is offline
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Be very careful with the S54 in the 1st gen M Roadster. The S52 is a lot more reliable and easy to maintain from what I have seen. Just has less power. You will get great enjoyment out of either motor.
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  #5  
Old 09-01-2011, 02:51 PM
98Mroadie 98Mroadie is offline
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Search around for subframe problems. You'll find a lot of info on it: don't let this scare you but just know what to look for before buying.
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  #6  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:30 PM
tequila mike tequila mike is offline
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s52 is less $ and easier to find also.
i want an s54 though.
Guy thing.
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  #7  
Old 09-02-2011, 07:23 AM
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Pinecone Pinecone is offline
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Mein Auto: M Roadster/M3
S52 + Turner Motorsport Stage 4 engine kit = S54.
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  #8  
Old 09-02-2011, 09:14 AM
mirage2130 mirage2130 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98Mroadie View Post
Search around for subframe problems. You'll find a lot of info on it: don't let this scare you but just know what to look for before buying.
Thank you for this, I was not aware. I just did some research on it. Please correct me if I'm wrong but is the best way to spot this while looking at a car, checking out the trunk, under the mat? It looks like that is where a lot of tears take place.
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  #9  
Old 09-02-2011, 09:55 AM
chickdr chickdr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirage2130 View Post
Thank you for this, I was not aware. I just did some research on it. Please correct me if I'm wrong but is the best way to spot this while looking at a car, checking out the trunk, under the mat? It looks like that is where a lot of tears take place.
Correct. I think you need to look underneath as well. If you buy one that looks good you may want to have Randy Forbes do the reinforcement job on the area to prevent it from happening in the first place.
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  #10  
Old 09-02-2011, 09:57 AM
ghpup ghpup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickdr View Post
Be very careful with the S54 in the 1st gen M Roadster. The S52 is a lot more reliable and easy to maintain from what I have seen. Just has less power. You will get great enjoyment out of either motor.
While the S52 may have lower rated power, I believe both versions are spec'd at the same 0-60 are they not? I have plenty of umph in my 11 year old car.

Personally, I love my 2000 //M. It is lots of fun and gives me a smile every time I get in it. I love the looks I get in Jan/Feb when it is 23*F and I am running around with the top down (if the sun is out, the top is down regardless of tempurature).
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  #11  
Old 09-02-2011, 11:10 AM
mirage2130 mirage2130 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickdr View Post
Correct. I think you need to look underneath as well. If you buy one that looks good you may want to have Randy Forbes do the reinforcement job on the area to prevent it from happening in the first place.
The only problem is I'm not exactly local to Randy Forbes. I'm in MA
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  #12  
Old 09-02-2011, 01:09 PM
chickdr chickdr is offline
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Originally Posted by mirage2130 View Post
The only problem is I'm not exactly local to Randy Forbes. I'm in MA
I am sure you could order the kit and have someone take care of it locally.
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  #13  
Old 09-02-2011, 01:52 PM
mirage2130 mirage2130 is offline
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Originally Posted by chickdr View Post
I am sure you could order the kit and have someone take care of it locally.
True, but i'd rather not buy a guy and then have to pay all that money right off the bat to correct a problem.
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  #14  
Old 09-02-2011, 02:06 PM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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recently, i very nearly purchased a 2000 m model but chose, instead, a '97 2.8. with 190 hp and over 200 ft lb of torque, the s52 moves this car with all the power i need for a street vehicle. the top is manual and more dependable. if it had roll up windows and manually adjusted seats, i'd like that better.

the s52 seems to be rated highly for reliability. moreover, when one starts applying too much power to these little cars, things break. bigger engines with iron blocks mean more weight. there's a whole buncha issues related to adding more power to a car that was designed for 138 hp.

if you like the more muscular, cobraesque styling of the m or just want the prestige of the top-of-the-line model, then spend the extra money for purchase and repair. myself, i prefer the 2.8 styling for the street. racing? maybe an m with a racing stripe. hmmm
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  #15  
Old 09-02-2011, 03:09 PM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
 
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Mein Auto: 2000 M Coupe, 1997 318ti
Quote:
Originally Posted by tohbi View Post
...

the s52 seems to be rated highly for reliability. moreover, when one starts applying too much power to these little cars, things break. bigger engines with iron blocks mean more weight. there's a whole buncha issues related to adding more power to a car that was designed for 138 hp.
Just because the initial model had a 138 hp engine, does not mean the car was designed only for an 138 hp engine.

BMW models typically have a 7 year life span. The model is designed to anticipate all expected changes - like fitting more powerful engines when initial sales start dropping.
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  #16  
Old 09-02-2011, 08:33 PM
tohbi tohbi is offline
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how much hp has an m, 315? i haven't spoken with joji so i'm not sure what his intentions were but wouldn't equipment have to be massively overbuilt to jump from 138 to 315hp, considerably more than double the original?

the coupe may be a different story but i've ordered a strut brace to reduce frame flex in my roadster and this is with 190 hp. the z3 seems durable enough but i've noted this car and others need structural strengthening as hp increases.

if a car is overbuilt, it won't perform. if underbuilt, it will break. the 1.9 seemed underpowered for the rest of the car but is the 3.2 overpowered? depends on what your requirements are. i'd like to see repair stats between the various versions. that could tell us alot.
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  #17  
Old 09-02-2011, 10:52 PM
chickdr chickdr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tohbi View Post
how much hp has an m, 315? i haven't spoken with joji so i'm not sure what his intentions were but wouldn't equipment have to be massively overbuilt to jump from 138 to 315hp, considerably more than double the original?

the coupe may be a different story but i've ordered a strut brace to reduce frame flex in my roadster and this is with 190 hp. the z3 seems durable enough but i've noted this car and others need structural strengthening as hp increases.

if a car is overbuilt, it won't perform. if underbuilt, it will break. the 1.9 seemed underpowered for the rest of the car but is the 3.2 overpowered? depends on what your requirements are. i'd like to see repair stats between the various versions. that could tell us alot.
From what I understand the subframe issues happen on all Z3's, not just M's. I know the E46 3 series had similar issues across the line. Recently there was a thread concerning a weakness on Z4's(front suspension mounting points) so it seems to be a common issue in late model BMW's.
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  #18  
Old 09-03-2011, 10:29 PM
sjdennis sjdennis is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickdr View Post
Correct. I think you need to look underneath as well. If you buy one that looks good you may want to have Randy Forbes do the reinforcement job on the area to prevent it from happening in the first place.
I know that the preventive fix has been suggested by some, but I don't see the logic of fixing what is not broken. Just check the spot welds and the bracket that holds the diff periodically. If and when you start to see tearing then go for the fix.
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  #19  
Old 09-04-2011, 08:30 AM
chickdr chickdr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjdennis View Post
I know that the preventive fix has been suggested by some, but I don't see the logic of fixing what is not broken. Just check the spot welds and the bracket that holds the diff periodically. If and when you start to see tearing then go for the fix.
Understand where you are coming from, but why take the chance when you know there is a weakness in the area? I would rather have the OEM material remain sound and beef the area up rather than trying to get them stable again after they start to tear.

It would be interesting to hear Randy's position on this. Did he perform the fix on his Z3's?
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  #20  
Old 09-04-2011, 09:54 AM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
 
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Mein Auto: 2000 M Coupe, 1997 318ti
Unless he has changed his mind:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Z3SteveJ View Post
With all of this talk about the subframe, I checked mine for the first time this past week. No indication of a problem. I've decided to just keep checking and not worry about it until I see a problem. I haven't seen any posts where an owner was careful with periodic checks and suddenly encountered a bad problem. From all I've seen, I think you'd be OK to just keep an eye on things and use Randy's fix at the first sign of trouble. I have 40K on my 2002 2.5, and it's a year round daily driver. Lots of short trips, with a cruise at least weekly of 30-40 miles. My check consists of just looking at the spot welds on the trunk floor.
And Randy's reply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Forbes View Post
That has been my recommendation to concerned owners over the past five (5) years.

Of course for owners that want to be proactive, I'm okay with that too
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