Market watch BMW Z4 M Roadster E85

Market watch BMW Z4 M Roadster E85

Stylish, quick and exciting to drive, now is the ideal time to buy a Z4 M Roadster.


Words: Guy Baker


Fast approaching classic status, BMW’s eye-catching E85 Z4 M Roadster packs the brilliant S54B32 engine and provides top-down motoring thrills on a sensible budget. And if you buy the right car now, you could see your investment rise over the next few years. The lack of an outright M Roadster model in the subsequent E89 and current G29 Z4 ranges means that the E85 M Roadster could be the last surviving M Roadster. And if the Z4 really does bite the dust in 2024, then demand for this feisty two-seater will surely rise, with values ballooning to match.

Investment potential is by no means the Z4 M’s only forte, however, because relatively limited supply means it already claims a fair degree of exclusivity. With those dramatic muscle car looks, an impressive reliability record, and – for the moment at least – a sensible price tag, the Z4 M Roadster makes a brilliant used buy.

But, its biggest asset is surely the howling S54 343hp 3.2-litre straight-six engine sitting under the bonnet. Taken from the E46 M3, it comes with revised double-Vanos variable valve timing, enabling power to peak at a lofty 7900rpm, and with 269lb ft of torque at 4900rpm, the 0-62mph dash takes just 5.0 seconds – making the six-speed manual Z4 M Roadster quicker than the contemporary Porsche Boxster S.

BMW threw lots of other M3 components into the E85 M Roadster, too, including much of the suspension and the brakes from the M3 CSL. And, unlike other E85 Z4 models, which came with electric power steering, the Z4 M Roadster employed hydraulic power steering to provide more direct and communicative steering feedback. In addition, the M Roadster gained a wider front track, modified electronic stability control with ABS and traction control, M alloy wheels and a more aggressive front bumper, climate control, electric leather seats, windows and mirrors, and metallic paint as standard. However, it wasn’t cheap, with the asking price for original UK cars topping £42,000.

Engaging but sometimes edgy on the UK’s less-than-perfect back roads, the M Roadster feels most content on smoother, sweeping tarmac and tracks. In the wet, in particular, the car needs to be treated with respect – a stiff factory ride plus an aggressive throttle response keep you on your toes at all times.

Some owners have opted for aftermarket coilovers to tame the M Roadster’s excesses and to get the maximum out of the chassis. In the dry, however, corners can be attacked with alacrity – with sharp turn-in and plenty of grip enabling you to keep the power down as much as possible.

Just 613 Z4 M Roadsters were sold in the UK between 2006 and 2008, with prices for most examples in the £14,000 to £20,000 range, depending largely on age and mileage. Values have been rising steadily over the last 18 months, and with relatively few cars around, we expect this trend to continue. So if you’re tempted, we’d recommend you buy a Z4 M Roadster before all the best examples have been snapped up.

Interestingly, the majority of examples are advertised privately at the moment – but as always, the caveat here is buyer beware. Stick to cherished examples, get a proper inspection by a specialist, and steer clear of track day cars. A few Z4 M Roadsters appear at auction, too, but the safest option is to buy yours from a trusted BMW specialist. And fortunately, most have been well looked after and have covered a relatively low annual mileage.

This Carbon black metallic 2007 example is exactly the kind of Z4 M you should be looking for. A great example, it’s covered just 49,000 miles and is currently for sale at BMW specialist James Paul in West Sussex (www.jamespaul.co.uk).

Priced at £20,990, it comes with black leather sport seats, that all-important full service history, and was supplied new by Vines BMW Redhill on 29 January 2007. This car comes with a full set of keys, the original wallet and service book, and crucially, this shows that the running-in service was carried out at 1376 miles by Vines BMW. It also benefits from recently-fitted front and rear brake discs and pads, new diff seals, and replacement rear brake pipes.

Slightly cheaper, but with higher mileage, this 2006 Interlagos blue car is another fine-looking example. For sale at Old Colonel Cars in Hertfordshire (www.oldcolonelcars.co.uk), it’s priced at a sensible £19,995 and has covered just 74,000 miles. Featuring black leather upholstery with carbon leather trim, the current owner of this car has enjoyed it for the last seven years, and this Z4 M also comes with a full service history (with a recent service and MOT at Rybrook BMW) and reams of accompanying paperwork in a file. Interlagos blue was a popular Z4M colour, and we spotted another very similar 2006 example advertised for £19,000 at Avenue Cars Gloucester www.avenuecars.com). With just 57,190 miles and only four owners – the last one for 12 years – this car also claims a full service history showing the running-in service was carried out at 989 miles.

Considering the car’s relative complexity and age, the Z4 M seems a remarkably reliable beast, with most issues just down to wear and tear over time. The car must have been serviced regularly, though, and the running-in service at around 1200 miles (which is vital to engine longevity) must have been carried out. Although the Z4 M has variable service intervals most specialists recommend the car is serviced every 7500 miles or once a year.

The roof motor and ABS pump can fail, replacing tired OE bushes and other suspension components will make a big difference to the handling and ride, and idle control valves often need to be cleaned or replaced. The aluminium engine mount bolts can suffer cracks – so a replacement set of steel bolts is a wise precaution, and rear coil springs can crack or break.


Total BMW Retail Price Guide

  • POOR: £13,500
  • GOOD: £13,500 to £20,000
  • EXCELLENT: £20,000+
  • SPECIAL EDITIONS: None

THANKS

I’m very grateful to Grant Darling at James Paul (www.jamespaul.co.uk), the BMW Car Club of Great Britain (www.bmwcarclubgb.uk), British Car Auctions (www.bca.com), Silverstone Auctions (www.silverstoneauctions.com), www.bimmerforums.co.uk, and Glass’s (www.glassbusiness.co.uk) their help with this feature.


Recent E85 Z4 M Roadster Auction Prices*

  • Model Transmission Registration Year Mileage Sale Price
  • E85 Z4 M Roadster Manual 2006/06-plate 71,421 £12,200
  • E85 Z4 M Roadster Manual 2006/06-plate 78,716 £10,650
  • E85 Z4 M Roadster Manual 2007/07-plate 70,404 £10,900
  • E85 Z4 M Roadster Manual 2007/07-plate 67,309 £11,500
  • E85 Z4 M Roadster Manual 2007/57-plate 72,286 £14,300
  • E85 Z4 M Roadster Manual 2008/08-plate 20,379 £20,700

*Sale prices of good-condition examples sold recently at British Car Auctions

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