Old Z3???

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Greetings,
I am in the market for a very solid used "small car". Have noticed that a '96-'98 Z3 can be had for reasonable money ($5-8k in midwest US per Kelly
BB).
Have never owned a "sports car". Have owned several sports motorcycles.
I'm retired, and put only 2-3k miles on a car annually. A Z3 may or may not fit my needs.
A '97 Z3 roadster (E36/7) is built on the E36 platform? Equivalent to a '97 318is chassis in the US? I am trying to penetrate BMW E- designations (not easy). What differences might I find (aside from body and interior)?
Consider:
http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/1996-to-2002-bmw-z3.htm
They rate Ride Quality as 4/10, Quietness as 2/10, Value within Class as 2/10, overall 37/100. For the 318i: Ride Quality as 4/10, Quietness as 4/10, Value within Class as 5/10, overall 46/100. Does all this make any sense?
A '96-'98 318is could be considered to be "very dependable"? Would a Z3 be as reliable, etc as, say, a 318is of the same year?
I once test-drove a Porsche 944. Wasn't much impressed with the power/weight ratio. Even the salesman told me it wasn't really a daily transportation type vehicle. Subsequently heard some 944 horror stories about repair and maintenance costs. Might a Z3 be similar wrt costs?
Any/all opinions, info, etc much appreciated.
Puddin'
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
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You have a good grasp of the Z3. Might I suggest for your consideration, a similar year 3 Series convertible. I'm not certain the Z3 is built on a 318 chassis or not, but now that you mentiion the possibility, I can see the resemblence and you might be right.
I am not retired, but I generally have only me and my wife in the car, or me and the dog, and occasionally me the wife and the dog. This last scenario is when the extra seating comes in very handy.
The wife and I took a ride one pleasant Sunday to the electronics superstore near us. We went to get a flat panel dislay for one of our computers. While at the store, we decided to buy a Christmas present for our daughter, so we selected a Toshiba notebook. We could not fit the two boxes into the trunk of the car -- a '94 325i Convertible -- which means you would not get the same payload into the trunk of a Z3.
Our problem was easily solved by puting one box into the back seat and the other into the trunk. We could have taken the items out of the box and then carried both items in the trunk, but if that's not an option AND you're plying the highways and byways in a Z3, then you're gonna have trouble because the back seat option isn't ging to be available to you.
I'm VERY happy with my 3 Series convertible as a fun car to drive. You will be happy with the Z3 too, but the lack of space can become a serious issue without proper planning, Trips to the electronics superstore can toss any and all "proper planning" right out the window.
Take a look at the 3 Series cars as an alternative to the Z3. In the years you are looking at, you can select a 325 or 328, and if you go a year or two newer, the 330 becomes a very good option and does not exceed the price point you have dialed in on. Well, there are the M-car convertibles, but they are going to cost a bit more than you appear to be looking to spend.

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a
Kelly
318
me
is
superstore
While
we
then
will
two
Gentlemen,
The problem sould have been avoided with a Coupé. Recently a friend of mine gave me a 17'' monitor in its original box plus a medium-tower PC and accessories. I easily put all the equipment into the trunk. At home, surprized of this feat, I tried to put the box of a 19"". It entered as easily as the 17'' did. The sole problem was with the rear window touching the edge of the box, avoiding to close the hatchback. In my old E30 I even wouldn't have been able to put the box into the trunk and I'm not sure that the monitor box would have passed through the rear door.
A Z3 alone is probably not convenient because of its two seats only. However, I'd recommend the coupé, because of the trunck's room and the I6 engine for its smoothness, regularity and power. Rather economic, one youth failure over 130000 km (thermostat at 17000 km) plus a broken fuel gauge that is common to all the series whatever their age and their type are and a battery after 7 years. Two tire sets for 110000 km. An average of 9 l/100 with 36 km kighway + 24 km in the city for the daily commuting.
Should I add that I might put a carpet on the garage floor without fearing stains on it ! That wasn't the same with the Spitfire !
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wrote:

You make several good points, all of which merit consideration. I'll try to become more familiar with the 3xx series say, '96-'00, as time permits.
I should have mentioned that I am sort of a "loner retiree", it's just me and my crazy birddawg, I'm not very active (health's not so great), etc. Lack of cargo space would eventually inconvenience me, but, hopefully, one can still rent a lite pick-up or such for $25 or so. With careful planning, the inconvenience should be minimized.
Thanks, P
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
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wrote:

You might meet the next Mrs. Wonderful at the shuffleboard court and wish you had the backseat.
I love my '94 325i convertible (E36), but I still drool with desire for the clean E46 convertibles. I've not driven the 2-seater (Z3 or Z4), and this experience might change my outlook but I doubt it. I think you can get a nice 4-seater and get the meaningful driving experience. You may find the insurance policy is cheaper too, but I don't know that to be factual.
In any case, my suggestion is to not get fixated on the Z3, but include the entire line of 3 Series convertibles. My humble opinion is that the space is very desireable, and the lines of the car draw lots of attention.
PS I fitted my car with 17" rims (225/45ZR17, BFGoodrich) from a '95 M3. This tire combination is the same overall diameter as the factory fitment, but LOOKS waaay better. Perhaps this is what causes pedestrians to make positive remarks about my old car.
PS2 All you need to say is 3 Series, not 3xx.Series. The E36 cars were built until '99-ish, then became the E46. The E number defines the chassis, so any 3 Series from '93-ish until '99-ish is the E36, the Z3 is the E37 (as you already pointed out) The 3 Series generation that follows is the E46. The convertibles in this generation get a glass back window and a better top, the earlier cars get a plastic window that folds in half, and the fold can cause a distortion of your view out the back. Of course, the glass window gets a defroster that the plastic window does not tolerate. I bring this up because your price range appears to include the earliest E46 cars, and I think the upgrades that the E46 brings to the table are well worth the cost up, if any.
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the
The two seaters are funny to drive, especially because you're sitting (almost) on the rear wheels :)

positive
So, you're able to make the comparison of 16" wrt 17" with lower & wider tires ! Did you fit the 245x40 on the rear ? What's your feeling ? I'm interested because the Z3 on bad roads, with large tires is a pain. I've to avoid some streets of my city otherwise, a lack of inattention would throw me against the curb.
Regards
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I run the 225/45x17 on all four corners. They fit perfectly without any modifications too the car. My car came equipped with the Sports Package, and that gave me 225/55x15s. There is a 16 inch equivelent to the tires, 225/50x16, and the 17 inch variant. The 15 gives an overall diameter of 24.7 inches, the 16 is 24.86 inches, and the 17 is 24.97 inches. The change in the revs per mile is -7.4 when the change goes from the 15 to the 17 -- the 17 is larger by 1/4 inch on the diameter, or 1/8 inch on the radius, so there are fewer revs per mile. The result is that the speedo is damn near perfect -- when it says I'm doing 85, my GPS reports 83.7, 1.3 mph below the indicated speed. Formerly, when the indicated speed was 85, the actual speed was closer to 80. (This is common, by the way)
If your car has 16s already, the revs per mile is 811.3, so the difference with the 17s is -3.7, so the change to the speedo for you won't be so noticeable. Your speedo is already closer to being accurate than my car was, so the change in tire size won't have the impact it had for me.
The 245/40 takes a staggered rim -- the rear rims are wider than the front. My rims are all the same at 8.5 inches.
Tire Diameter 225 55 15 24.744 225 50 16 24.858 225 45 17 24.972
Notice that for every 5% decrease in the aspect ratio (the second set of digits in the size), the rim increases 1 inch to maintain the overall diameter.
Tire Circumference 225 55 15 77.736 225 50 16 78.094 225 45 17 78.453
Revs / Mile 225 55 15 815.068 225 50 16 811.325 225 45 17 807.616
Width in Inches ALL SIZES 8.858
Sidewall Height 225 55 15 4.872 225 50 16 4.429 225 45 17 3.986
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this
a
the
but
and
24.7
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the
speed
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front.
Thanks Jeff for the details. When I ordered the car, the baseline was 225x50x16 for the 4 wheels and by option: 225x45x17 on the front and 245x40x17 on the rear. I chose the option because of the look of the hell the style # 42 have.
However the handling is very poor on bad roads and the tramlining pretty heavy as soon as grooves are present. This is particularly noticeable on the right lane on some parts of the motorways.
I got the car with Dunlop tires (SP Sport perhaps), I replaced all of them by Bridgestone Potenza S03 then by Potenza SE050 on the rear and Dunlop SP Sport MAXX on the front. It seems that the new Dunlop on the front improve a little bit the handling. However this may be subjective.
The rims are not painted but varnished. Although an alomst weekly cleaning with wash and wax, they started to oxydize some years ago and now the propagation is running. The repair cost, needing to separate the two parts of the rims, is comparable to the price of aftermarket brand new ones.
I was wondering if going back to the baseline dimensions would solve the handling issues, the reason why I'm looking for references.
Regards
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The 245/40 fits a wider rim than the 225/45.
As an option to buying a new set of rims, take the current rims to the chrome shop and have them done new with chrome. They (the shop) will strip the existing finish and do the rims over with chrome. This will make them shiny, which may or may not be a good lok for you, but should be cheaper than buying all new rims.
In my area, the freeways are grooved and it is common in some areas for my car to move about (side to side) as I'm driving. The tires tend to follow the grooves, and if the guy driving the groove making machine was texting on his cellphone <big grin> instead of driving straight, then the grooves might waver somewhat and my car will shift a bit in the lane. I weighed the benefit of excellent handling against the discomfort of my tires following the grooves, and decided I could live with my tires following the grooves. Now, I curse the groove machine driver instead of the tires. I have to think that your car, being shorter than mine, would do this to an even greater degree. You have added width to the rear tires and a shorter wheelbase -- greater contact with a wavering road surface and less weight to throw around.
If your trouble is that the cars that have gone down the road before you have left what amounts to ruts, then I'd fully expect a finely crafted sports machine to track those ruts. A sloppy suspension system would roll around under the car and take these ruts in stride, but the tight suspension would cause the car and the tires to always go the same way at the same time, leading to the discomfort of tramlining.
My view is that tramlining is an undesireable consequence to a highly sought after performance package. You paid extra for a finely tuned suspension system and now seek ways to detune it. The problem as I see it is that you want the car to go where you point it when you point it there, and follow your every command immediately. Nothing wrong this, by the way. But the car doesn't only take direction from you, it also takes direction from the roadway -- a side effect of you feeling the road is that the car also feels it.
Whether your car follows grooves cut on purpose into the roadway, or follows depressions created by the multitudes of cars and heavy trucks that have gone before you, it is doing what you paid extra to get. Your car is doing what wide, short, light, and tight car is supposed to do. I do not think reverting to the base tire is going to fix this. You will still have all of the same variables -- wide, short, light, and tight. The only difference is that you will gain 1/2 inch of sidewall flex.
You might find that 5psi of air pressure can do more than anything else.
When tires are soft, there is a larger contact patch and the pliant tire will grip the freeway grooves and road ruts with the enthusiasm you expect expensive tires to have. When you fill the tires with a bit more air then they call for, the contact patch actually decreases and the tires do not grip the road surface quite so strongly.
By way of illustration, let me talk about offroad travel for just a minute. Jeep drivers, or Land Rover drivers, routinely remove air from the tires to get more tire grip. They do this to a far greater degree than an errant driver of the family sports car might let the air pressure drop, but the effects are the same -- if on a much different scale. Anyway, when I had my Jeep, I would routinely lower the air pressure to 5 psi while offroading, normal pressure for the road was 35 psi. At the lowered pressure, the tires would wrap around the rocks and get the most aggressive grip possible. I could be driving along and see an opportunity for offroad travel and take it without letting the air out of the tires. As I was going along and found that my tires were slipping and sliding on rocks, or not gripping the sand, I would stop and let the air out. On several occasions, I was stuck and getting stucker. I let the air out to about 5psi, and the tires would flatten out on the bottom, and this would provide the traction against the surface I was on, and the Jeep would be able to move forward without being towed.
My point is that if I aired down to 5psi to get more grip, then you might get more grip by airing up from what you have to 5 psi more. As a general rule, passenger cars will take 30psi (give or take) in all four tires. Try 35psi, and see if this makes the tramlining less of a problem. You may find that the lateral travel is reduced, but the verticle movements are greater. The movement from side to side is fixed, but driving across the reflector dots they use to make the lane lines will be harsher.
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[...]
by
them
SP
cleaning
This is another question I've to dig up with several companies in order to compare. Basically to correctly process the rims, they need to separate the two parts they are made of: the rim itself and the hub/beams part, then they've to carefully reajust the parts and balance the wheels. This is the reason why the cost is so heavy. The other option is to get them stripped, without dismantling, then painted. IMO, would result in an ugly look.
[...]

follows
of
is
[...]
I'm already used to put 3 psi more (0.2 bars) on the rear and 1.5psi in the front tires. More than that produces a tendency to make the car floating a little bit. So, I've to carry my cross tirelessly (no pun in that !), cursing the mayor until he decides to fill-up these damned ruts and cuttings. At the evidence, the palm trees of the seaside boulvard are far more important than the streets 500 meters beyond.
Regards
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You have two-part rims? Really? I do not believe those are factory rims. I am not a BMW expert by any means, but I pay pretty close attention to stuff like this, and I'm not aware of any two-part rims offered by the factory.
I agree, do not paint your rims. That will be a disaster.
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[...]

them
cheaper
to
to
why
stuff
???? OFFERED ??? big bucks :-)
here's a picture: http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t 72745
Regards
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That certainly looks like a two-part rim.
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^^^^^^^^^ What do you mean ?
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I said earlier that there are no BMW-offered two part rims. The picture you posted certainly appears to make me wrong on that point.
I was not aware of any factory rims that are two-part. I thought they were strictly an aftermarket product.
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you
It was one of the options when I bought the car. They were on the BMW accessories catalogue. To me they are genuine parts. Aftermarket spoke # 42 rims do exist but their perimeter is a little bit thicker and rounded. Note that there are some other references (few however) made of two parts on their current catalogue. Honestly, I doubt that BMW would put aftermarket parts on their catalogue.
regards
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I'm not saying you got aftermarket parts on your new BMW (once upon a time), I'm saying that BMW has a two-part wheel that got past me. I'm sure that if you bought them new and they have BMW markings all over them, they are the real deal. I just did not know that BMW had such a thing. I tend to see these kinds of things, but just because I haven't seen them only means that my world is too small and I gotta get out more.
I agree with you, BMW is not going to put aftermarket stuff into their own catalogs and brochures.
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wrote:

I doubt she'd wanna ride in back. :-)

I'm not just after "flash". I'm not even 100% sold on a ragtop. I'd consider a coupe if I could find one (never seen a Z3 hardtop hereabouts).
...

All of 'em? Coupes, sedans, etc etc? All with the same chassis, motors? I was confused on this point.

Yeah, the old plastic windows can be a pain. I've seen some become virtually opaque. I tend to sacrifice newer years for lo miles and pampered condition.
Thanks, P
"Law Without Equity Is No Law At All. It Is A Form Of Jungle Rule."
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wrote:

In the U.S, 1999 was the first model year for E46 4 doors and 2000 for the 2 door models. The '99 coupes & convertibles were the last year for the E36 line. With the E46, BMW dropped the 4 cylinder engines and began offering only inline sixes. And if you try to associate model numbers with displacement, it certainly becomes confusing as the 323i was a 2.5 litre, the 325 is a 3 litre, and while the E46 328i had a 2.8 litre engine, current (E90) 328i BMWs are 3 litres.
Tom
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wrote:

I'm not sure where the cut-in was, that's why I said "99-ISH". I shoulda said, "heavy on the ish."
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