1998 BMW Z3 M Roadster

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1998 BMW Z3 M Roadster


BMW has a long history of success in the field of roadsters, just consider the stunning 507, the delicate 328 or the peculiar Z1. It’s precisely from this heritage that in the ’90s the need for another spider was born, later named Z3. More modern and comfortable compared to its predecessors the slender German convertible has been produced from 1995 to 2002 and under the bonnet you had plenty of choices: the most renowned engines are the 1.8 litres with 115 hp, the 1.9 with 138 hp, the 2.2i with 168 hp and the lively 2.8 with 190 hp. You could opt for a 4-speed automatic gearbox Hydramatic, but the best choice is with no doubt the 5-speed ZF manual gearbox with its mechanical and physical action, ideal for a sporty roadster. The Z3 RWD though could handle definitely more power, so in 1997 the M division lay their hands on the car squeezing into the engine bay the famous 3.2 litres S50 (later the S54). The six-in-line engine can deliver 321 hp @ 7.400 rpm with 350 Nm of torque, numbers able to move the 1.420 kg of the convertible from nought to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 5,4 seconds with a top speed of 250 km/h, electronically limited. The gearbox is a five-speed as well attached to a limited-slip differential. The vigorous powertrain, the strong and timeless look beside the trimmed interior and the pure and thrilling driving experience determined the success of the Z3 M, which sold more than 15.000 units in six years of production.

The Vehicle

The Z3 M is a great car for a person who’s seeking strong emotions and doesn’t want to abandon the pleasure of the wind in your hair, all surrounded by a modern look enhanced by classic details. The 3.2 litre gives an excellent performance, well-matched with the lively chassis and the beautiful sound from the German six in line. This particular Z3 has been registered for the first time in the States in 1998 and was later imported to Italy, where now is for sale at a car dealer in Pistoia (Tuscany). The chassis number is WBSCK9330WLC86968, and being an American version it has the less angry and calmer S52. The six in line in fact retains a displacement of 3.201 CC but it provides 240 hp and 305 Nm against the original 321 hp and 350 Nm; the performance is still interesting and sufficient to amuse the driver. The vehicle is already certified by the ASI (Automotoclub Storico Italiano) and must be registered in Italy, a procedure that involves a simple acceptance test and a cost of more or less 300 euros in addition to the passage of property. The tachometer shows 99.218 miles, the equivalent of 160.000 kilometres. The soft top is brand new and all the mechanical parts and the electrical system have been inspected without finding issues.

On the Outside

The paint (a sober Arctic Silver) is in great shape, it doesn’t show dents, dings, scratches or even minor signs that could compromise the overall look. The entire bodywork has been repainted one year ago to remove a few scratches on the bonnet and doors due to rocks and gravel, which led to this decision. The only noteworthy signs (but still minutiae) are located at the base of the rear-view mirrors, where the moisture tends to collect. There aren’t alarming gaps between panels and bumpers, and the headlights are clean (third stop included) and not yellowed or faded, like the exhaust pipes, shining and not oxidised. The rims, with their distinctive 5-spoke design, do not present scratches or cracks, even the outer edges are free from ‘close encounters’ with a kerb. All the M and BMW badges are vivid and pristine like they were brand new, including the louvres on the sides; they are inspired by the stunning BMW 507 and they bear the M division’s logo rather than the usual stylized propeller. The previous owner applied a carbon fibre cover on the rollbar for a bolder appearance.

On the Inside

The interior looks well maintained during the years and tidy, with an intriguing two-tone leather combination, blue and black. There aren’t major issues, the leather seats – electrically adjustable – don’t show rips or lacerations, and even the infamous side of the driver’s seat is without wear. All the stitching is good and the dashboard didn’t suffer huge damages during these 24 years. At the bottom of the gear lever, you can find small, damaged areas, and a couple of switches (just under the water and oil dials) should be slightly restored to reach perfection. The previous owner, who loved the carbon fibre wrap, covered the central tunnel, the door handles, the handbrake lever and the armrest as well, in addition to having installed a speaker by Kicker for your ‘top down’ moments behind the two seats. The footrests have minor scratches and there are two little cracks (on the left and on the right) along the seal, where the soft-top meets the windshield frame. Apart from these details, the cabin is in good shape, the doors are straight and spotless and they still have all the original decals.


The 240 hp 3.2-litre engine has been completely checked in recent times without finding problems, and a cutting general has been done as well; attached to the documents you can view a dyno test at the Mariani Engineering in Pistoia. The 6-cylinder had 240 hp from the factory, and during the test, the Z3 obtained 238,1 hp at the crank, evidence of a flawless state of health. The max torque was 309 Nm, even more than the original digit, at 4.000 rpm. The airbox is aftermarket while the engine bay is really clean, there aren’t traces of oil leaks or oxidation. All the correct decals are there. The steering rods are clean and intact, and along the bottom of the doors, we don’t see worrying signs of rust. The exhaust doesn’t have cracks or bent areas, and the bushings are still good. The electrical system – like the mechanical parts – has been checked looking for issues, but there aren’t any.

History Highlights

As mentioned, this Z3 M arrives from the United States, and unluckily the current owner can’t get a thorough history of the car during its American period, apart from the fact that the spider had a passage of property in Florida, in 2014. Here in Italy, the Z3 has had just one owner, the present one, who registered immediately the car at the Italian ASI, with all the related benefits. The last global check was less than two years ago, and the next one will be due in 15.000 kilometres.

What We Think

The Z3 M Roadster is something like a muscle car from Europe, a sports car that combines American arrogance and German refinement and precision. Even if this model is less attractive because of its less exuberant engine the American version can be ideal for someone looking for a fast and engaging roadster, but not challenging like a Z3 with the 321 hp S54, capable of being really tricky at the limit or during the wrong weather forecast. The retro appearance enhanced by the long bonnet and other few details inspired by the past is a trump card that won’t lose its appeal in the future, and the same applies to the smooth growl of the six in line. The conditions of this vehicle are really good, it needs just a bit of love in minor areas to become a wonderful Z3 M. Speaking of the aftermarket accessories, the new owner will have to decide whether or not to keep them, according to his taste. The ASI certificate already attests to the value of this car, which will definitely increase in the future. Whether you desire this cabriolet to keep it for years to come or to invest your savings the Z3 M Roadster is one of the most all-around models from the M division, that this year is celebrating 50 years in the business; an appropriate purchase to commemorate such a remarkable goal.

Price estimate for this BMW Z3 M Roadster: € 20.000 - € 35.000

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located in the province of Pistoia, Italy. To arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below or try our “Frequently Asked Questions”.

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  • Location: Pistoia, Italy
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 99220 kms
  • Chassis Number: WBSCK9330WLC86968
  • Engine: 3.2 CC 243 CV
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: Left-hand drive
  • Colour: Silver
  • Interior: Blue/Black
  • Estimated Price: €20,000 - €35,000

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