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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 11-08-2010, 10:18 AM
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mark_m5 mark_m5 is offline
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Diary of a Z3 M Roadster owner

I didn't set out to get a Z3 M Roadster.

I'm getting older and decided that it's time to sell my motorcycles and settle into a nice exotic and fun convertible. Requirements: similar fun to my Suzuki GSXR 750 crotch rocket, with speed and handling and great looks.

I have thing for Ferrari. They're fast. They're loud. They're exotic and glamorous. Taking one out is not just a drive, it's an event. My favorite (and coincidentally the one that's the most reasonable buy for the money) is the F355 (they're selling for $40k-$50k in some cases). In my mind, it eclipses every other car as a potential replacement for a motorcycle. It's an affordable modern exotic.

My wife has a thing or 3 against Ferrari. They're irrational. They're excessive. She'd feel bad for our less fortunate relatives. She'd feel bad for the homeless. The cars cost a lot to maintain. Mechanics are hard to find. Well, good mechanics are hard to find. Never mind that people pay more to buy and maintain a Benz or a VW or an Infinity. She wanted me to consider alternatives.

Which brings me to the Z3 M Roadster. (Finally).

In the price range of the 355, there are lots of cars: Lotus Elise, Lotus Esprit, Aston Martin, Corvette, BMW M6 convertible, Dodge Viper, various Mustangs, Replica 427S/C Cobras, etc. None of those cars seemed to have the appeal and classic styling of the Z3. Most might have much worse reliability.

I really didn't intend to buy one. I was just considering it to placate the wife. I want a happy passenger. She seemed genuinely interested and happy about the idea of a $10k roadster that would fill the void that I'd have in my life without motorcycles or a Ferrari.

We took a test drive in the Z3 M Roadster.

Big mistake.

If you're trying to avoid buying one... DON'T TAKE A TEST DRIVE!!!


I'll post pics soon...
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
If you're trying to avoid buying one... DON'T TAKE A TEST DRIVE!!!



Gee ya think!!!

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  #3  
Old 11-08-2010, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
We took a test drive in the Z3 M Roadster.

Big mistake.

If you're trying to avoid buying one... DON'T TAKE A TEST DRIVE!!!

You know, I wasn't even remotely thinking of an M-Roadster. But my friend got the bug and I was helping him out.

I drove it and now I want one.
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  #4  
Old 11-08-2010, 04:31 PM
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They should have a warning sign or something

Update:

The clutch master cylinder gave out before I left the dealer, so they replaced it. I've been waiting on the call. There had been "cupping" on one of the front tires, which I was worried might mean frame anomalies; but my awesome mechanic (Ron at Westlake Euro Auto) said he'd do a thorough evaluation and figure it out when I take delivery tomorrow or so. He suspects bushings, but hasn't seen the car. I was thinking front struts, but who knows.

When I saw the underside of the car, I noticed oil staining on various parts, so I figure I'll have Ron change out all the things that might be leaking.

The wheels that it came with are kinda goofy looking after-market items. I'm thinking about changing those out for one of the standard options. Ideas anyone?

The car apparently has a $4000 stereo (from what the salespeople said), and the trunk is completely taken up with subwoofer and amps. I'd rather have trunk space, so those bits will have to go...
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Old 11-08-2010, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
They should have a warning sign or something

Update:

The wheels that it came with are kinda goofy looking after-market items. I'm thinking about changing those out for one of the standard options. Ideas anyone?

The car apparently has a $4000 stereo (from what the salespeople said), and the trunk is completely taken up with subwoofer and amps. I'd rather have trunk space, so those bits will have to go...

Love to see pics of both wheels and stereo...
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  #6  
Old 11-09-2010, 07:09 PM
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Update: The dealer is dragging their feet and not talking to me about when they might get the car transported up to me, so I'm thinking about gettig a ride down to pick it up...
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  #7  
Old 11-10-2010, 06:52 AM
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Welcome to the club Mark... Z roadsters are the best!
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  #8  
Old 11-10-2010, 11:08 AM
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I'm contemplating performance enhancements now. If anyone has recommendations for a reasonably priced +50hp or +100hp mod, please let me know
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  #9  
Old 11-10-2010, 11:48 AM
zhan zhan is offline
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even though i owned one of those things, i have/had trouble putting it in perspective.
like what is the identity of the car?
its fast, its tiny, it has no features, it rides pretty damn rough, and its dangerously tail happy. which is basically makes it a BMW s2000.
it even has the same horsepower as the s2000 for s52s (granted, more torque).


also i dont understand why you want to put performance enhancements on a 10000 dollar car.
any performance enhancements will cost a considerable % of the car's comparative value.
so if you are going to spend $10000 and spend another $5000 on mods, then you are spending $15000.
why not just buy something for $15000 and keep it stock?

spending half the car's value on mods just sounds rice boy to me

Last edited by zhan; 11-10-2010 at 11:51 AM.
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  #10  
Old 11-10-2010, 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
I'm contemplating performance enhancements now. If anyone has recommendations for a reasonably priced +50hp or +100hp mod, please let me know
I've looked around during the 7 years that I've owned my MRdstr. At the end of the day (and consideration) outside of Turner MS and Dinan, I haven't really seen much (there are other alternatives, just not what I was interested in). The cost for Turner and Dinan were in the $4-8K range. I had to ask myself if the changes were something that I could take advantage of or not. I'm not licensed for high performance driving so the answer to that question is "no". The car is plenty fast, quick and agile. I just wish it didn't go through tires as fast as it does (12k-16k tops for a set).

My $.02 worth is to get the car back to stock and then enjoy the fun without investing a great deal... Heck, use the money you save on upgrades for something else related to recreation and enjoyment (good wine... golf membership.... good food.... longer vacation in a nicer location.... lots of alternatives).
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  #11  
Old 11-10-2010, 12:50 PM
dougmcintyre dougmcintyre is offline
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For a +50hp increase, the standard advice is supercharging/turbocharging. Basically a 5 to 10 thousand dollar mod. Less if you buy used and do the install yourself.

IMHO, a more cost effective mod is to upgrade the suspension. I like the TC Kline SA suspension - http://store.bimmerworld.com/tc-klin...tem-p1232.aspx

Totally transforms the car. Better handling and a better ride. An improvement I enjoy every minute I drive the car.
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2010, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zhan View Post
so if you are going to spend $10000 and spend another $5000 on mods, then you are spending $15000.
why not just buy something for $15000 and keep it stock?

spending half the car's value on mods just sounds rice boy to me
Rice! yummmmm.

It's my "fun car" and the wife doesn't want me to get a Ferrari, so I can spend my Ferrari budget on mods, assuming I don't end up with a Ferrari...

I plan to spend a few thousand to fix up and personalize the car. It has oil staining on the underside; so gaskets and stuff need to be changed. Might need new struts and/or bushings. Definitely needs new wheels (maybe Hartge or M-sport, but I hate the ones it has). I might be able to fund some of that by selling the $4k stereo because it's not like I'd listen to it anyway...
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Old 11-10-2010, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ghpup View Post
outside of Turner MS and Dinan, I haven't really seen much (there are other alternatives, just not what I was interested in). The cost for Turner and Dinan were in the $4-8K range.

My $.02 worth is to get the car back to stock and then enjoy the fun without investing a great deal...
I forgot - the car has a DINAN CAI already. I have to call DINAN with the # on the underhood label and see what goodies are already onboard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougmcintyre View Post
For a +50hp increase, the standard advice is supercharging/turbocharging. Basically a 5 to 10 thousand dollar mod. Less if you buy used and do the install yourself.

IMHO, a more cost effective mod is to upgrade the suspension. I like the TC Kline SA suspension - http://store.bimmerworld.com/tc-klin...tem-p1232.aspx

Totally transforms the car. Better handling and a better ride. An improvement I enjoy every minute I drive the car.
And no smog issues like a blower might have...

Thanks guys.
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  #14  
Old 11-12-2010, 02:03 PM
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Update:

Picked up the car yesterday and drove to my mechanic for the complete shakedown. He's still finding all the little stuff, and even though there's a tiny bit of seepage fromt the rear main seal, he says it's one of the cleanest undersides he's seen on a BMW.


So far we've found:
  • Rear tail light out (I was really surprised that the roadie doesn't have an info display that dings and tells you about this stuff) I'm spoiled by my 5-series cars...
  • 3rd Brake light bulb out. No info display on that either.
  • several corroded bulb sockets (beach car?)
  • no body rust - so the corrosion protection worked...
  • passenger seat heater needs a new grid (my wife noticed this on the test drive)
  • new trailing links on the rear suspension
  • oil seep on the front and rear engine seals is minor, he recommends not to worry about it.
  • loose drain plugs fixed
  • loose hose clamp on power steering was 10 turns from where it should be (this was the biggest leak)
  • new wiper blades
I'm planning to have the body shop guy put it on the frame rack to make sure everything's straight, and then check front suspension components and have a 4-wheel alignment done to prevent future "cupping" on the new left front tire.

I might get the car all done by early next week! Then I'll post pics.

I have to plan some weekend trips...
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  #15  
Old 11-12-2010, 08:25 PM
Mike Clark Mike Clark is offline
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Other than improving the intake, I didn't feel the need to enhance the motor on the one I had. When BMW designs an M car, things are designed to work together at the best the chassis can do without breaking. Significant bumps in horsepower require other mods to drivetrain and suspension to compensate. I'd stay away from forced induction and just stick to performance intake, exhaust, and ECU. Get the stereo out of the trunk and get a nice setup from Bavsound. New wheels and tires sound appropriate. sticking with stock wheel and tire sizes will keep the ride tolerable, but if you don't mind bouncing around a bit, step up the wheel diameter and tire width a notch.. It may be due for fresh struts so go with board member suggestions depending on how you want the ride/handling compromise to go.

Then drive it and enjoy it!
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  #16  
Old 11-12-2010, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
I didn't set out to get a Z3 M Roadster.
If you're trying to avoid buying one... DON'T TAKE A TEST DRIVE!!!
That makes two of us buddy. I used to think they looked, well kinda girly. Then I came back from a test drive with a new hair style and thought differently.
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  #17  
Old 11-15-2010, 09:06 AM
zhan zhan is offline
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Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
Rice! yummmmm.

It's my "fun car" and the wife doesn't want me to get a Ferrari, so I can spend my Ferrari budget on mods, assuming I don't end up with a Ferrari...

I plan to spend a few thousand to fix up and personalize the car. It has oil staining on the underside; so gaskets and stuff need to be changed. Might need new struts and/or bushings. Definitely needs new wheels (maybe Hartge or M-sport, but I hate the ones it has). I might be able to fund some of that by selling the $4k stereo because it's not like I'd listen to it anyway...
what was wrong with getting a more quality copy that doesnt need any fixing?
like turn-key perfect condition car?
because buying a fixer-upper for 10gs and putting another 5 in fixing it = 15gs
buying a similar car for 15gs could have no problems, and in better condition.

as for wife doesnt want you to get a ferrari - give her a couple back hands.
if i had a wife, she'd say - get a ferrari or lambo or dont get anything.
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:39 AM
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mark_m5 mark_m5 is offline
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Originally Posted by zhan View Post
what was wrong with getting a more quality copy that doesnt need any fixing?
like turn-key perfect condition car?
because buying a fixer-upper for 10gs and putting another 5 in fixing it = 15gs
buying a similar car for 15gs could have no problems, and in better condition.
Thing is, any used car is likely to have issues. It's difficult to find them all without going over the car with a fine-tooth comb.

There were only 3 Imola Red M Roadsters on Autotrader within a few hundred miles of me. A 2002 over $20k and another 90-something for $7500. I figure the 2002 was probably a better car than this one, but I could buy this one twice for the price of the '02. This one looked like it was in great shape, aside from the clutch master cylinder and front tires, and they fixed those. The passenger seat heater didn't seem to work on the test drive, but we weren't sure what to expect.

I treat my cars right. I give them everything they need, and I want this one starting out as if I had done the maintenance on it. I'm really picky.

My mechanic is a realist, and he's awesome. I told him I'd like to get rid of the oil leaks on the bottom, and he says they're not that bad. The rear engine seal is the worst of them, and it's not dripping, it's just "seeping", so there's staining on the metal but that's about it. I was arguing with him, saying I want to give him my money, and he's saying "I can do it, but it really doesn't need it. Just wait until you need a clutch and we can do it then." He finally convinced me to wait and keep an eye on it. If it starts dripping, it's fair game. He cleaned off the bottom of the engine/transmission so we can see what crops up from here on.

As for the performance mods, I decided the car is ok without them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zhan View Post
as for wife doesnt want you to get a ferrari - give her a couple back hands.
if i had a wife, she'd say - get a ferrari or lambo or dont get anything.
You're joking, I hope! My wife is my best friend. No back-hands will ever come close to her. She's just more rational about the idea of a Ferrari than I am. She has said "it's your money, you can do whatever you want" but she wouldn't ride in it, if she didn't agree with the idea of having one. I'm working on convincing her. That's how I treat my friends, including the most important one.
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  #19  
Old 11-15-2010, 10:52 AM
zhan zhan is offline
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Originally Posted by mark_m5 View Post
Thing is, any used car is likely to have issues. It's difficult to find them all without going over the car with a fine-tooth comb.

There were only 3 Imola Red M Roadsters on Autotrader within a few hundred miles of me. A 2002 over $20k and another 90-something for $7500. I figure the 2002 was probably a better car than this one, but I could buy this one twice for the price of the '02. This one looked like it was in great shape, aside from the clutch master cylinder and front tires, and they fixed those. The passenger seat heater didn't seem to work on the test drive, but we weren't sure what to expect.

I treat my cars right. I give them everything they need, and I want this one starting out as if I had done the maintenance on it. I'm really picky.

My mechanic is a realist, and he's awesome. I told him I'd like to get rid of the oil leaks on the bottom, and he says they're not that bad. The rear engine seal is the worst of them, and it's not dripping, it's just "seeping", so there's staining on the metal but that's about it. I was arguing with him, saying I want to give him my money, and he's saying "I can do it, but it really doesn't need it. Just wait until you need a clutch and we can do it then." He finally convinced me to wait and keep an eye on it. If it starts dripping, it's fair game. He cleaned off the bottom of the engine/transmission so we can see what crops up from here on.

As for the performance mods, I decided the car is ok without them.



You're joking, I hope! My wife is my best friend. No back-hands will ever come close to her. She's just more rational about the idea of a Ferrari than I am. She has said "it's your money, you can do whatever you want" but she wouldn't ride in it, if she didn't agree with the idea of having one. I'm working on convincing her. That's how I treat my friends, including the most important one.
well, you bought a car that was modified.
sounds like it was modified but a young person from the $4000 sound system. as not many older more experienced and mature people would put in a $4000 system in a car that small.
so that brings it to this - buying a car that was potentially driven by a kid.


yes, i was joking about the back-hand. but if i were to get married, i cannot have my wife feel that she's not good enough for a ferrari. or feel insecure about it. who cares if its making the neighbors look bad, or if you drive a ferrari then you are sh!tting on homeless people.

Last edited by zhan; 11-15-2010 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 11-15-2010, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by zhan View Post
well, you bought a car that was modified.
sounds like it was modified but a young person from the $4000 sound system. as not many older more experienced and mature people would put in a $4000 system in a car that small.
so that brings it to this - buying a car that was potentially driven by a kid.


yes, i was joking about the back-hand. but if i were to get married, i cannot have my wife feel that she's not good enough for a ferrari. or feel insecure about it. who cares if its making the neighbors look bad, or if you drive a ferrari then you are sh!tting on homeless people.
Agreed! Most likely the car had some hard miles with a kid at the wheel. It seems like a sturdy little micro-beast though.

Glad you're joking, and I hear you. We shouldn't let homeless people decide how we live our lives. Then you end up like this guy:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=493120
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Old 11-16-2010, 10:14 PM
Mike Clark Mike Clark is offline
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Keep us up to date on how things progress. I agree with your mechanic, if seals are just seeping, leave well enough alone. There are a lot of stereo buffs out there that don't necessily abuse their cars. Without a doubt though, the stock sound system needed upgrading, but it can be done nicely with fresh speakers and a replacement subwoofer and amp without encroaching on the trunk.
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  #22  
Old 12-02-2010, 10:27 AM
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Went by the body shop yesterday

I decided to check up on the roadster yesterday. I took it to a local body shop to fix the cra-ppy paint job on the hood that was apparently not done right when the accident damage was repaired (that little Carfax incident), and check to make sure the fram is straight and the bumper's aligned right. The hood is all sanded down and ready for new paint.

My mechanic ordered the new seat heater, but apparently the part # that was actually IN the seats was not the OEM part #, which suggests that maybe this car doesn't have the original seats in it. Not sure why that might be, so I would love to see another M Roadster to compare seats once I get the car all finished.

Maybe next week I'll be able to take some nice pics...
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:17 PM
Mike Clark Mike Clark is offline
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Here is what a two-tone imola red looks like.

Obviously the gearshift and console are not stock. The rest is.
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Last edited by Mike Clark; 12-04-2010 at 12:45 PM.
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  #24  
Old 12-05-2010, 08:49 PM
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It doesn't have the two-tone interior, but that is damn cool!
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Old 12-10-2010, 12:02 PM
bphodgesus bphodgesus is offline
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I was shopping for a used M3 a couple of years ago. I saw an ad for an M Roadster, and was mildly interested - mostly just curious. It was a Friday, and the wife and kids were away. The car was far from my home, but from work I was about half way there. So, I thought what the heck and I set up a meet, and took it for a test drive...and that was it. I was sold. Not a perfect specimen, in fact within 3000 or 4000 miles it was on jackstands in my driveway and I was doing a clutch replacement. But I do not regret my purchase, in fact those imperfections brought me closer to my car as I have to address them and learn the intimate details of the car. I have had it for more than 2 years now, and still enjoy it every day. Now I have a new challenge: emissions issues to pass California smog. It is time to replace the O2 sensors and probably the CPS as well (while I am at it I will probably do a Vanos refresh as well). This should also improve power, drivability and fuel economy. Then I will work on sorting out some suspension issues. I intentionally bought an older used car. I realize great savings from new, and accept the work and cost of repair and upkeep as part of the bargain. Have fun with your MZ3, I know I will.
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