With a brand new BMW Z4 coming out this year, the second-hand Z4 market is bound to get a relapse and prices for older models might jump up a bit. The original Z4 is the one to go for as it does come with a lower price tag than any other version out there and there’s a proper M version that was developed by the people in Munich. The Z4 M is, to this day, a quite capable car and using a legendary engine under the hood so you should definitely give it a look over if you’re interested in a 2-seater.
Prices have dropped and brought the Z4 M down to around the $25,000 mark and that’s going to be a good price considering what a brand new one will cost, without the M performance infused in it. Should I also mention the fact that you get the crowd-favorite S54 3.2-liter straight six engines under the hood of these beauties? If you’re an avid fan of going topless, the Z4 M is also available in a drop top version, making it a pretty perfect fit for any taste.
However, you should know that the Coupe model comes with stiffer shocks and an overall worse ride than the Roadster. Furthermore, it has a slightly faster steering rack and thicker rear anti-roll bar. All of that means you get a better handling model compared to the drop-top and you should go for the latter if you’re more into comfort than anything else.
As for what can go wrong on an E85 or E86, you should know that the engine’s valve clearances require checking every second service. While the M3 is known to have some issues with the VANOS system, by the time the Z4 M came out BMW managed to solve them and the S54 mill on the Z4 M is a lot more reliable in this regard. However, there have been some cases reported of failed conrod bearings on cars with over 75,000 miles so might want to keep that in mind. The engine bolts are prone to breaking too because of the stiff suspension.
You also should take into consideration that we are talking about cars with some mileage on the clock here and that bushings and trailing arms might need replacing, depending on how the car was used. That’s not a big deal, all cars eventually wear these items out. Something that doesn’t happen on all cars though is completely busting out the springs, which should be replaced with aftermarket, stiffer parts. You won’t notice the difference in ride comfort as the Z4 M is a tough cookie already.
Since I myself am looking for one of these beauties these days, I think it may be a good investment on the long run. One should also check the body of the car before buying, as the drain holes can get plugged up and the underside of the hood can also rot in certain cases. However, if the car is mechanically perfect, these issues can be rather easily and cheaply fixed. Doesn’t hurt to check though.