From The Driving Seat header
Photo of black BMW Z3 in Wiltshire countryside

£1,000 BMW Z3 PART



I kept the ‘Grand in your hand’ BMW Z3 for 14 months and 2,828 fun-filled miles, before trading it in for an Audi TT Sport quattro when Bimmer reported 142,663 miles. I had set out in 2018 to buy such a  lightweight, limited edition Audi, when I was unexpectedly offered the 6-cylinder, 2-litre Zed at that knockdown price.

So I put that Audi ambition on the backburner and drove merrily onward in my sixth privately owned BMW. I appreciated that a low price meant I did not go into spasms of owner worry as had been my case with a fabulous but flawed Lotus Elise.

Initial moves were to fit a pair of new Kumhos at the rear, bodge the scarred spoiler and stone chips with eBay-bought paint in BMW Cosmos black and attack the BMW Individual interior leather, focussing on the battered driver’s perch.

The big DIY success was Renovo’s soft-top canvas cleaner which put the faded Z3 top back in the black, but the driver’s seat leather and flattened bolster defeated me over three attempts.

So I went to L.A. and R.W. Piper, Somerset-based trimming and upholstery aces. They create classy work on the finest classics, but were not elitist about taking on such a marginal motor as my Z3. They charged £140 (£167 with onerous 20% VAT) and made the best possible job of renovating seat, including side bolster and remedial work to provide encouraging driver support.

The hazy sectors to the metallic bonnet finish were beyond DIY too. The Z3 had been poorly repainted, possibly after a bump, as there was no other evidence of accident damage, which left hazy white traces showing through the topcoat. The only visual improvement came from Autoglym Super Resin Polish.

I did finally get an estimate for £550 to professionally repair and repaint bonnet and spoiler, but by then car value and some necessary service work costing £532.51 ruled that out.

What did the £500+ maintenance include?

Well, at that bargain price, I did not expect a BMW-stamped service book!

Since there was not much evidence of works done beyond new brake lines, the first service in ages developed into a near tie between parts and labour charges. Biggest parts expense was a Bosch MAF Sensor (£130.80), plus a split in the air intake hose that demanded replacement.

Z3 also received synthetic 5/40 oil to suit the VANOS twin cam cylinder head operation, a first set of spark plugs in a long, long while, new intake hose, restoration of clear headlamp covers and an extensively messy Waxoyl under-seal.

The BMW now revved happily to 6400 rpm – it was always eerily smooth, but there were naturally flat spots with that split intake hose. Noted previous owner aftermarket air intake tricks, including a snorkel air intake, which we promptly dumped, and the engine became the star turn.

Not all the earlier owner aftermarket moves were wasted: the stainless steel exhaust from 2012 sounded wonderful, proved utterly durable, and had only a minor drone zone around 2000 revs. Even more effective, was a transverse engine bay brace, one that tightens up the Z3 front end so that it points into a corner with conviction.

Other areas where I got a result, included resetting the radio code after a battery disconnection during the leather work and refurbishing the front Style 32 7.5 x 17 inch alloys, which had spokes flaking. Now there are plenty of original BMW alloys around, but picking the right dimensions to fit and trusting some eBay pictures/descriptions is well dodgy.

I did get a full set of 7.5 x 17s from a trusted eBay seller after too many months searching – and the price for four was about the same as some asked for a pair. They were honestly described and properly packed, with prompt delivery via courier service from North of England.

In the event, two were so good I used them as slaves; local company Pristine refurbished my original wheels. I had no direct contact with the wheel restorers as I dealt through Checkpoint (contacts below) including multiple wheel changes. The result was excellent and definitely helped the trade-in deal on the Audi, but I’m not going to quote the costs on these as I still have the eBay wheels up for sale to offset those refurb costs.

I drove the Z3 into a dealer trade in with the benefit of a final oil and filter service marking my pain free 14-months of harsh use.

I  entered one Castle Combe track day without embarrassment and many more classic car events. It sold for slightly more than I paid; but that’s not a realistic profit when you take in service and cosmetic charges I happily paid during an educational ownership.

Low stress, max fun – but not a keeper!

Jeremy Walton




Checkpoint (Warminster branch of chain), wheels & tyres: Tel: 01985.215148



L.A. & R.W. Piper –  Tel: 01963 441431.

Gliptone Leathercare UK  Gliptone products (2). or Tel: 0161839 2941.


Roadster top:

Renovo  – Tel: 01444 443277.

Chrome/bright metalwork: German-sourced Autosol efficient at

Hermetite Good results, Hermetite Metal Brite effective on engine bay brightwork surface rust.