• NIGEL FRYATT #2002-BMW-Z3-2.2i / #2002 / #BMW-Z3-2.2i / #BMW-Z3 / #BMW /
    / #BMW-Z3-Roadster-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3-E36/7 / #BMW-Z3-Roadster / #BMW-Z3-E36/7 / #BMW-E36/7 / #BMW-E36

    YEAR: 2002
    TOTAL MILEAGE: 74,807
    MILEAGE THIS MONTH: –
    MPG THIS MONTH: 23.2
    COST THIS MONTH: £681.69 (inc VAT)

    It’s been a pretty good summer to own an open-topped sports car, and my Z3 has certainly lived up to expectations. I bought the car because I wanted a (relatively) cheap sports car that I could regularly drive with the top down, and I didn’t want it to be a Mazda MX5!

    My budget was around £4,000, and it was surprising what little choice there is. But when this Z3 came up for sale, it fitted the bill perfectly. The underpowered four-cylinder model was never a consideration and, having checked a few example insurance quotes, a three-litre would have been a little extravagant. Of course, an #M-Sport option would have been fantastic, but wasn’t going to happen on my budget! If I’m honest, I didn’t actually realise that there was a 2.2-litre version of the six-cylinder-engined Z3 until I did some research. They are limited in number and so, when HF51 PUV appeared on the AutoTrader website, I went to see the car and immediately did the deal. Regular readers may remember that I bought it during a snowstorm in February 2017, but I did check that the hood folded down correctly. In fact, it was obvious that the car must have spent much of its life in a garage, or at least covered, since the quality of the hood was high; the deal was done.

    It was also obvious that it would need some new tyres. Why do people buy different tyres for each wheel? My Z3 had three different brands on its four wheels; one of them a Chinese tyre branded ‘Triangle’ (does anyone else feel mystified at the choice of name for a round object?). The quality of the hood, however, did mask a problem that I’ve reported on before. The rubber seals around the screen and door jams were allowing water ingress when it rained particularly hard. Water collected under the passenger seat and promptly flooded the DSC yaw sensor that’s located there.

    Although the total repair cost – replacing all the seals and getting a refurbished DSC sensor (a new BMW OE version being some four times the cost of a refurbished version!) – was over £1,000, I wasn’t too worried and didn’t feel it was something that was ‘missed’ when I bought the car; the passenger carpet was certainly not wet when I handed over the cash. All the work was done by Walkers Autotech (walkersautotech. co.uk, tel: 01403 751646), where Andy and his team did an excellent job. He left the old seals in the boot for me which, if nothing else, did emphasise how much had been changed! When this year’s MoT and annual service became due, I was hoping for a rather cheaper experience, and was pleased to get the call to say that the Z3 had passed the MoT without problem. Walkers did a comprehensive ‘health check’ on the car before the annual service and, while there was nothing that needed immediate attention, there were a few things that I decided to get done while they had the car.

    The windscreen wiper arm had become twisted slightly and had scratched the screen. While that’s particularly annoying (and I have no idea how it happened), the scratching isn’t directly in front of the driver, so didn’t influence the MoT test. The arm and the wiper blades were duly replaced.

    More significant was that the propshaft rubber coupler was found to be perished and cracked. Walkers suggested I consider replacing it sooner rather than later, so it seemed logical to get that done during the service.
    They also spotted that the rear anti-roll bar drop link bushes were perished, and had started to split. This rang true as I had felt that, in high-speed corners, the rear of the Z3 did feel a little soft to me. Although I don’t claim to be some kind of seat-of-the-pants-engineer, I had noticed this rather unnerving characteristic on a particular bend on the A24, near where I live. Now, my other car is a Lotus Elise so it’s probably a little unfair to make the comparison, but I did. So, getting these bushes replaced seemed an excellent idea. Driving back from Walkers and negotiating that same bend, the car certainly felt like it was squatting down into the corner a lot better – a feeling that makes spending the money a lot easier!

    The only really annoying thing was that, during the standard service, the exhaust studs snapped on removal, which meant they had to be heated to remove them. Walkers kept the cost down, though, and only charged an hour’s labour when I suspect it took a little longer. That said, the labour, new studs and new exhaust manifold did add £95 to the total bill.

    In total, therefore, the #MoT , annual service and a couple of replacements that while not essential were sensible, saw a total bill of £681. When you consider this is for a year’s motoring, it works out at around £56 a month, which is reasonable – and a lot less than I had to spend last year on those bloody seals!

    The service was carried out in late October, just when we had that cold snap in the weather. Nevertheless, the day I collected the Z3 it was blue sky and sunshine. Decent jacket, quality woolly beanie hat fitted, shades on, the drive home with the roof down, through some great Sussex country lanes, was excellent.

    Add some decent tunes on the stereo, and that’s exactly why I bought the car in the first place. Walkers also give each customer car a full wash and vacuum, so we were looking good. An open-topped car isn’t just for the summer!

    My Z3 certainly lived up to expectations during the summer. Left: All the work was done at Walkers Autotech, who also gave the car an excellent clean and vacuum – much appreciated! Right: These are the old rubber seals that go around the windscreen; now all replaced.