BMW Z4 2.2i SE | Shed of the Week

It was the warmest September on record. October could be a scorcher, too – time for a cheap convertible, no?

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, 6 October 2023 / Loading comments

This week Shed brings us a BMW Z4, perfectly timed for the onset of another British winter. Unlike the ‘clown shoe’ Z3, the first E85 Z4 was not penned by bearded yogi Chris Bangle but by Danish designer Anders Warming, although like just about every other car designer you’ve ever heard of (seems like) he was under Bangle’s stewardship at the time. 

Anders is now the director of design at Rolls-Royce but he was doubtless pleased when many found themselves Warming to the Z4’s scalloped look when it arrived in European showrooms in 2003. It actually went on sale in the US before Europe, in late 2002, mainly because the cars were built over there (South Carolina) and the American market was where BMW really hoped to score big time with a premium small ragtop. 

Before 2005, when a Europe-only 148hp 2.0-litre four came out, you could only get the E85 Z4 with one of three inline sixes. The 228hp 3.0-litre weighed 1,365kg and did the 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds; the 189hp 2.5-litre weighed 1,335kg and did the 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds; and the 167hp 2.2-litre that you’re looking at here weighed 1,325kg and did the 0-62 in 7.7 seconds. By way of comparison. today’s G29 sDrive Z4 range-bottomer comes with a 194hp 2.0-litre B54 turbo four, weighs 1,480kg and does the 0-62 in 6.6sec. 

Back to reality, what’s the sitrep on this particular example? Quite good tbh. The only advisories on the MOT that took place three days before this story went live were for worn rear brake discs and front shock absorbers with a light misting of oil. It’s true that the car could do with a new gearknob, but if a worn knob and a light misting of oil (sounds like one of Shed’s better bath nights with the postmistress) are the only things you’ve got to worry about with this Z4 then you’re doing all right. 

They might not be, though. A few other things can go wrong. It appears from the photos that the hood on this one goes up and down. Unlike Shed’s bath nights there are no supporting videos to prove that, but if it’s all working as it should then that’s a big plus point because the Z4’s hood motor was very poorly positioned by BMW, or very well positioned if you wanted it to work as a rainwater collection point when the drain got blocked, which it almost always did. 

Wiper motors weren’t too clever either, especially on the earlier (2003-05) cars. The answer there might be to stay in during wet weather. It is a convertible after all. Many years ago Shed owned a Ducati motorcycle which broke down on a regular basis and went rusty on a continuing basis. Whenever he complained about it, which was often, the standard response was a smile, a shrug and a polite inquiry as to why he kept riding it in the rain. 

Z4 transmissions weren’t 100 per cent reliable, sometimes generating a nasty clunk from the diff zone when engaging reverse after a spell of going forwards or a bit of flywheel rattle when switching off the engine. Z4s with ZF six-speed boxes could feel graunchy in first and second but Shed thinks that the 2.2 had a Getrag five-speeder (all corrections welcome), in which case you might be all right on the graunch front. DISA valves were meant to regulate intake manifold pressure to increase midrange torque and higher revs power but they became known for breaking. 

What else? Brake lines went rusty, window regulators went west, water got into the boot and the front lights, boot lids rusted, centre brake lights cracked and the handbrake lever spent much of its time pointing to the stars when the cable went out of adjustment again. 108-style split rim five-spoke alloys corroded for fun – although this car doesn’t have those. Rear springs break, mirror lenses fall out and winter draws on, but don’t let any of that stand in your way. It’s a clean, fully-MOT’d up six-pot Z4 for under £2k. You can bet Mr Bangle never saw that day coming.

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