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  • Why should you buy one? On paper the 1.9 may have seemed a touch underpowered but, in fact, it was the fourcylinder cars that were actually better to drive in many ways. The Z3’s chassis was not the most competent when pushed and the heavier and more powerful engines didn’t suit the Z3 platform, at least until it was beefed-up for the M version. Instead, the four-pot Z3 is a great back-to-basics sports car that’s easy to drive and easy to enjoy. Being the earliest model it’s also gained a certain amount of retro appeal, just as a 1990s sports car should. Prices are just about the cheapest they are ever going to be and although it might not seem it at the minute it’s quite plausible that these will soon start to go up in value.   Verdict The Z3 is now at the cheap and cheerful point of its life but there have been other BMWs that enjoyed this period in their lives before suddenly becoming desirable once again. That means now is an ideal time to buy one up and have some fun and the 1.9-litre is well suited to the chassis. Be aware that it’s not about speed with the four-cylinder cars but they offered a better balance than the six-cylinder machines and they are just as practical to use now as they were new, with problems being few and far between. Good examples are just as easy to come by as average ones, so pick the right car and you should be able to enjoy it for what it is whilst ticking it off the bucket list of BMWs to own before they become either too rare or too expensive to own and use properly. ...

  • BMW E36/7 Z3 - how much to pay?

    • votren911
    • Saturday, 28 February 2015
    • 0 Hits

    How much to pay? It’s possible to pick up a high mileage but tired Z3 in need of a little work and an MoT for less than a £1000, and if you don’t mind taking on a project and getting stuck in these can be bargain buys. We found one example for £650 that needed a couple of basic and common faults attended to. From there, if you’ve got a keen eye, a taxed and tested example that’s ready to go can be had for around the £1000 mark. Around the £2000-2500 mark will bag you a decent car with well below 100,000 miles on it and plenty of life left. Approaching the £3000 mark gives you a pick of the best usable cars. The truly immaculate, lowest mileage examples are advertised for more and we even found a 9000-mile car for £8000, though you would really have to want one for that money. ...

  • What goes wrong BMW E36/7 Z3?

    • votren911
    • Saturday, 28 February 2015
    • 0 Hits

    What goes wrong? The M44 and M43 four-cylinder engines have proved to be a very reliable units over the years and the only issues seem to be minor. Vacuum leaks from corroded hoses cause lumpy running and stalling but it’s just a matter of tracking it down. Otherwise a rough idle can be caused by a faulty MAF sensor or idle speed control valve, so try giving it a clean and seeing if it makes a short-term difference. A collapsed breather pipe will also cause running issues. There are also the usual BMW cooling related issues to consider but these seem common on the four-pot when put under stress. Still, check for leaks or hot running temperatures due to a failed water pump, viscous coupling, split header tank or a corroded radiator and hoses. Elsewhere, the five-speed manual and four-speed automatic are solid and reliable transmissions, although the manual can develop a notchy gear change. Simply changing the gearbox oil can usually rectify this. If it’s making a ‘bonk’ noise when selecting gears at low speed it’s more likely to be the propshaft guibo. Suspension-wise the rear top mounts tend to fail, causing a nasty knock and although the Z3 suffers from a rear subframe issue, it’s very unlikely to affect the 1.9-litre version. Rust seems a rare occurrence on the Z3, although broken or corroded wing mirrors and bases can be an issue. You should, however, spend most of your time checking the roof over. Make sure it operates as it should and look for obvious signs of damage that might be letting in water. The last thing you want is a wet interior. Examine the rear window. Most will have a crease but that’s not a problem as long as they aren’t damaged enough to let water in. They can be replaced separately from the roof, if necessary. Check the interior for signs of damp and also look in the boot. A damp carpet here indicates that the weather seal around the third brake light has corroded. Also, inside, the seat rails can wear allowing movement but these are easy to replace and the interior door handles fail, but these are easily fixed. ...

  • Running costs BMW E36/7 Z3 four-cylinder

    • votren911
    • Saturday, 28 February 2015
    • 0 Hits

    Running costs Here’s where the four-pot Z3 shines. It’s generally a cheap and easy car to maintain if you keep on top of it and a healthy car will also reward you with few issues and decent fuel consumption, too. There’s not a lot of difference between the older and newer model so expect to see over 30mpg on a regular motorway jaunt and nearer 25mpg being light footed around town. Foot to the floor driving will see less but the car can be enjoyed without hitting the redline on every gear change. Tax isn’t too much, costing £126.50 for six months or £230 for a year. The later cars from 2001 cost a little more at £145 for six months and £265 for 12 months and insurance on all models should be cheap as they are now eligible for modern classic policies. ...

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