The BMW Z4; Future Classic?

A short article looking at the original BMW E85 Z4

44w ago

In the late 90s and early 00s BMW was on top of their game. Some of the best M cars were produced during these years. The E46 M3, the E39 M5, the E36 M3 and the E60 M5 despite some of it's "minor" engine problems. Even the non M cars were fantastic for example the E46 330ci and what we have here, the E85 Z4.

All the Tech Specs

The BMW E85 Z4 was available from 2002-2008 in various specifications. Your choices are: A 2.0L Inline 4, a 2.5L Inline 6, a 3.0L Inline 6 or the Z4M with the 3.2L Inline 6. The most desirable engine would be the 3.2L Inline 6 with 338bhp. However, you can still have a lot of fun with some of the more modest engines. The best non M version to own would be the 3.0L which has a respectable 228bhp and a 0-60 of 5.9 seconds, which even by today's standard is pretty quick but in 2002 this was amazing. The Z4 pictured is a 2.5L with 192bhp and a 0-60 of 7 seconds.

Why the E85 Z4?

When you think about future classic BMW's the 3 series instantly springs to mind. A much loved and instantly recognizable car. No matter what generation 3 series BMW has always provided something for everyone. So you ask, why the Z4 then?

Well to answer that we need to identify what makes a classic BMW?

- A manual Gearbox

-Rear Wheel Drive (Of Course)

-A naturally aspirated engine

-Iconic Looks (With nice Kidneys)

The BMW Z4 has all of these (If you buy the proper manual one), especially iconic looks. This car looks beautiful even 18 years later. It has the unmistakable BMW kidneys at the front with swooping lines from the headlights to the door handles. One of my favorite design features is how the designer incorporated a Z on the side of the vehicle which also makes a 4 as well.

Not only does it have the looks, it also has the driving experience. The driving experience is amazing in the Z4, you can have the roof down and listen to that amazing inline 6 sound track just resonate with you whilst every turn allows the rear end to get nice and lively. Not only this, but the E85 Z4 are at their lowest prices yet and you can pick up a nice example for less than £5000.

To add to the list of positives, the reliability isn't that bad for an old "Bimmer". However, the 2.0L inline 4 has quite a few known problems and should be avoided if possible.

The E85 Z4 is a 2 seater version of some of the best E46 3 series around so what's not to love?

The Negatives!

OK, So the Z4 isn't perfect i must admit. Some of the negatives to list are:

- Impractical

- The running cost's aren't ideal

- The roof motors were put in the worst place ever

- The run flat Tyre's aren't the best

First of all there's the impracticality. There are only 2 seats and not much storage to speak of, But if you're buying a 2 seater roadster you probably wasn't expecting Transit van type of storage. The running cost's can be high depending what age you are and what roads you drive on. For example, the tax is £330/year to start off with the the fuel consumption around town can be as low as 22 mpg! To add insult to injury if you're a young driver the insurance can be out of this world. I am a 20 year old with 1 year's NCB and i was quoted £5000 for one year!

In addition, the roof motors were placed below the water drains from the soft top. So as you can imagine over time the roof motors will get damaged and will need replacing eventually, This is a matter of when not if unfortunately. However, on the bright side a common modification is to have the roof motors relocated so it won't happen again. Finally, the Z4 does not come with a spare Tyre so has run flat Tyre's in case you do manage to get a flat Tyre, which inherently isn't a bad thing. However, because of this feature it drastically affects the riding experience causing the steering to "follow" the road a bit more.


The BMW E85 Z4 is a great car with some awesome features. It can be a lot of fun as a weekend toy, a garage investment or a daily driver (if you're crazy enough). I wouldn't be surprised if in 10-20 years time this car will be looked on as a quirky classic BMW Porsche alternative.

Thanks for reading!

Lewis Hall

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Comments (14)

  • Definitely a future classic. However, as with any classic the early ones gradually become the most sort after. I would also add that the SMG version in 2.5 or 3.0 m54 are becoming very rare and add a bit more to the driving experience with super quick shifts from the f1 inspired paddles. All considered the early American assembled Z'ds that have been looked after are on target to be very sort after in years to come...

      8 months ago
  • Yes! Beautiful car, and my second favourite monument to Bangle.

      10 months ago
  • I think it is, but rag top convertible, not retractable hard roof. If I may also add to future classics Z3 roadster, "Clown Shoe" and 1st Generation Z4 coupe.

      9 months ago
    • The e85 only had cloth tops anyway. Yeah the Z3 coupe is already a classic and some are very high in value.

        9 months ago
  • They’re good cars, but the styling is like nails on a chalkboard to me. that pedestrian safe hood line is mostly the culprit, but I’m no fan of the side creases either.

    Weirdly enough I think the rear end of the coupe is actually really really good looking.

    Regardless, my opinion is likely the minority and these have enough going for them (hydraulic power steering! Manual transmissions!) that they’re not a bad choice as a future classic.

      10 months ago
    • I can understand that, when I saw them in pictured I wasn't that interested to be honest. I had my eye on a E46 330ci, but once I saw it in person and after 30 minutes of driving it my decision was made!

        10 months ago
  • I think it should become a classic. I only hope the price doesn't sky rocket where no one an afford one that doesn't make six figures.

      10 months ago
    • Yeah I think it will become a classic but I can't imagine the prices going above £50k if I'm honest

        10 months ago
    • If they even hit £50, that's too much. As of now I can pick one up for under $10k in the States (£7000, I think).

        10 months ago