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2004 BMW Z4 3.0i SE

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2004 BMW Z4 3.0i SE


The sharp lines of the original Z4 roadster took BMW’s two-seater Z series sports car in a bold and thoroughly modern direction. Previous incarnations, the Z1, Z3 and the Z8, all traded heavily on past designs, harking back with retro re-workings of established designs. The Z4 silhouette – penned by Danish designer Anders Warming – ploughed its own furrow. It had chiseled good looks, sculpted flanks and blistered arches, it was bold, butch and brilliant.

Strong sales of the first-generation Z4 meant a follow-up was guaranteed. That arrived in 2009. The second-gen Z4 (E89 to us BMW designation nerds) brought with it a mountain of new tech but kept the visual updates subtle. Warming’s work remained bang on, even a decade after it first appeared. The E89 was the first Z since the Z8 to be built in Germany; to that point all Z3 and Z4 production had taken place at BMW’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. It was also the first Z to get a folding retractable hardtop; killing off the coupe Z4 in the process.

The Vehicle

The latest Z4 is a great car, but do you remember when the roadster had those crisp, exciting lines – the so-called ‘flame surfacing’ that nobody else was doing – nor ever really did? Well this is one of those, and its lines are every bit as sharp as the day it left the factory.

It’s a three-owner, 56,000 mile example which is offered from the trade, and, judging by the condition of more or less everything, one that has been a ‘driven on nice days then put away’ car.

Looking through the documentation, you’ll see that it says the car was imported, but this looks to be a ‘personal import’ from the days when dealers were finding it hard to get stock any other way. Essentially from day one, it has been a UK-registered and driven car. And, as you’ll see – and read – it’s fabulous.

On the Outside

As already mentioned, this roadster dates from the heyday of BMW’s ‘flame surfacing’ design credo. And, as the term suggests, there are a lot of changing edges, subtle intersections and compound curves. It’s very satisfying to see how everything meets and joins harmoniously on this car – no stray edges protruding, and all the shut lines and panel gaps keeping a close and consistent line. Side to side and front to back, everything lines up as it should. The paintwork too retains all of its luster and remains a consistent colour across all the panels.

In typical BMW sports fashion, the car has no chrome embellishments, save for the grill whose vanes and surrounds retain all of their brightness. What other details there are – the side mirrors or the round indicator repeaters on the wings, are clean with no dust or grime allowed to sit in the grooves around their edges or mounts.

Another significant indicator of how the car has been treated is the roof. The soft top is in absolutely excellent condition. It has not faded, and shows no rips or signs of mould. Its frame and folding mechanism are also clean and rust-free. It reportedly operates smoothly and quietly and folds neatly into its space behind the seats, leaving the steel tonneau to fit totally flush with the bodywork.

On the Inside

Black leather in a silver car is always a winning combination – at least when it’s this nice – and the polished and brushed metal highlights will keep you interested even if you’re not the driver. The seat hides are in excellent condition. There is, perhaps, just enough of a detectable patina in the leather to say that the car has had a life, though nothing that could remotely cause concern. Cushion edges are firm, headrests smooth, and the stitching tight all around the cabin. Carpets and mats are likewise clean, and the pedal rubbers still showing plenty of ‘tread’.

BMW’s ‘rhinoceros hide’ dashboard coverings set the standard for interior plastics, and those in this Z4 retain all of their deep colour and tactile texture. They show very little wear. Body-coloured plastics are similarly good, with just a few small chips to edges in the tray of the centre console.

The steering wheel and gear stick show no real handling wear and the colour of the leather remains very good; no fade. Other such areas where you would expect wear, such as the doors, still remain in very good condition with – perhaps – just a few more marks on the driver’s door.

It’s the details that tell you about the kind of life this car has lead – look at the switches on the steering wheel, no fade or accumulated dirt in the edges of their surrounds, nor in the joins in the trim on the gear stick top. These are all areas that can quickly deteriorate in the hands of less conscientious owners, but are in good health in this car.

Rubber seals around the car – on doors and boots – all supple and healthy, are still very capable of keeping the spaces they protect dry.


The underside of the roadster appears to be very solid with no apparent rust beyond the odd bolt head. The deep front spoiler is very much intact, while at the rear, the petrol tank shows no significant dents. Struts and control arms appear strong and in good shape, while hoses and cables have not been allowed to deteriorate and remain protects by their shrouds.

The BBS split-rim alloys – a costly option – are in good shape. There are a few marks or spots of oxidation, but they are still very presentable. The tyres have a lot of life in them too.

The engine bay is a workmanlike space, clean and showing no corrosion (again except for the odd bolt head) or signs of neglect. All under-bonnet plastics are a solid black colour with no cracks or evidence of overheating. The heat/sound-proofing on the bulk head also looks very tidy. All hoses and plumbing look to be in excellent health – a prime example being the assemblies atop the master brake cylinder.

Again, it’s perhaps more telling to look at the often-neglected areas to see the true condition of the car – the bonnet and boot struts (okay there’s a tiny bit of corrosion on one), hinge areas – to both lids and the doors – or hooks and strike plates. Again, all these are very clean and appear strong. The boot carpet is very clean, and, together with the battery compartment (also far too clean), show no visible signs of water ingress.

History Highlights

For a pretty low mileage car, it’s no surprise that the car doesn’t possess a lot of history. What there is (besides the regulation handbooks) should give you reassurance. 

The service book is stamped, with services taking place at the correct intervals at BMW specialists. Mileages are corroborated by these and elsewhere. 

More recently, the car has had £430 spent on a rear suspension fettling; including rear shock absorbers and bushes.

All very reassuring.

What We Think

After all of the above, you pretty much know what we think; it’s a (very) ‘right’ car, in a good colour scheme, with a low-ish but usable mileage and a tidy history. Some peope might point to it being an ‘import’, but considering that this was a common buyer/dealer practice at that time (and that it’s been in the UK all its life), it really isn’t an issue.

What should not be overlooked going forward, is that these cars come from a time when BMW’s designers 0had a vision and the courage to go with it. There wasn’t really anyone else doing anything the same and, as with other ‘design’ icons such as the Porsche 928, this may become more significant as the model ages.

For now, we think this beautiful Z4 will command a price of between £5,000 and £9,000.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; 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’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of suppliers we work with regularly including: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 56280
  • Engine: 3000
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: RHD
  • Colour: Silver
  • Interior: Black
  • Estimated Price: £5,000 - £9,000

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