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Thread: New guy considering Z8 purchase

  1. #1
    DSC Off CraZ8's Johnny Q's Avatar
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    New guy considering Z8 purchase

    Hello all,

    First of all, thank you to Andrew for creating and maintaining such a great resource for the Z8. I've been reading though many of the old posts trying to educate myself on the Z8.

    A little background info on me and the reasons for my potential purchase. I drive a 2006 330i as my daily driver, and I have a couple of weekend cars a 1997 Porsche Carrera S, and a recently aquired 1973 Alfa Romeo spider. I've owned the Porsche for 5 wonderful years. I really love that car. I bought the Alfa within the last year and found myself driving it more than the Porsche. I realized I really enjoyed tooling around town in it with the top down. I'm fortunate enough to live in southern California where we get many days of top down weather. Beacuse I have limited garage space, one of these cars stays at a friend's garage. I would like to find a car that satisfies me as much as these cars do. I love the performance and styling of the Porsche, and I love the styling and top down appeal of the Alfa. I also like buying cars that hold their value. I'd also like a car that has more safety features than my Alfa with it's lap belts, no air bags, and wooden steering wheel that would probably cut me in half in a wreck.

    I think the Z8 will be a good fit for me. I really like the styling and performance of the Z8, and I can put the top down. I also think it is a car that will hold it's value over the years due to limited production of this car.

    I'm just looking for some tips on what to look for in a Z8. I've ready many of the posts regarding the problems with frame damage. That scares me the most! What else should I look out for that is specific to this model. I've also read about the VANOS issues of Z8's and M5's. Of course with any car, I will get a PPI done, look at service records, drive the car etc. Were there other issues in earlier cars? It seems that older cars are priced lower than the later cars. What else should I be looking for?

    I'm sure this topic has been covered, but a quick search yielded few results.

    TIA for all responses

    Tim

  2. #2
    DSC Off Orcatek's Avatar
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    Not a requirement, but it is nice if the car comes with "the book" and the full set of other items that came with the new car.

    http://www.bmwz8.us/vbb/showthread.p...9&referrerid=2 Book

    http://www.bmwz8.us/vbb/showthread.p...4&referrerid=2 Other stuff

    The cars themselves have a fairly short list of minor potential issues. A few others to look for and read about here.

    Seatbacks - the glue sometimes fails and they fall off - you re-glue or get new backs.
    Top Strings - These strings impact the proper top folding - not a major issue
    Dash Leather - Glue can give up and bubbles form - this will probably become more common with age
    Rearview Mirror Bubble - fluid leaks out causing a bubble - can get replaced for free
    Radio - A few have reported that it is failing with age on some cars, mine did this with a weak battery
    Battery - Low battery sometimes causes electronic gremlins - most keep car on battery tender

    Common Mods that you may or may not want:
    Exhaust - matter of taste
    CDV - clutch delay valve, BMW use this to "protect" us, can make the clutch inconsistent in its feel
    Suspension - several variants and levels here
    Tires and Wheels

    Good luck in your quest. The Z8 is an amazing car and the group here is a great group of people.

  3. #3
    You have done the research well, and you know what to be on the look out for. One extra word of advice is I'd try to spend the extra to get an 'owned' car with low mileage car rather than a car that was once a leased car. The leased cars usually have higher mileage, mostly well over 25,000, and will have been less loved or cared about by their original owners than the owned ones.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  4. #4
    Sport Button On - DSC Off Dogsbreath's Avatar
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    Greetings

    I would just add

    1) aim for a car with the strut tower reinforcement - or if buying one without it have the alignment checked and factor in the cost of installation. I would still have the alignment checked if the reinforcement bar is there - the car may have been 'bent' and the bar installed later.

    2) If you want improved handling aim for a car with a Dinan suspension package already intsalled. It is my understanding that these are no longer available. Someone correct me if I am in error.

    3) VANOS issues were primarily a problem with older cars. This may reflect the lower prices. Some of these cars may be Euro cars as well - though I don't believe it makes much difference except perhaps in resale.

    Dave P

  5. #5
    Z8 Millennial Monster hayvenhurstkid's Avatar
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    Everyone has given you great advice. I bought mine in June from the original owner with just 3,600 miles on it. It had all of the "goodies" they are supposed to come with. I checked the shock towers for deformation and also very carefully checked how the engine hood aligned with the fenders. All was good, so I bought the car and immediately took it into the local BMW dealer for the performance package installation. All alignment readings were normal before the package was installed and again after installation. There are seven panels on the car which ,if original, with have the VIN on them. You should find one on the inside rail of each front fender, the front of the engine hood, under each door, the lower part of the trunk lid, and behind the license plate in back. These assure you the panels are original and the car has not been badly wrecked. A clean Car Fax is good but I have seen cars with clean ones that did have a damage history that did not show up.

    My car had the delaminating dashboard issue, the bad radio issue, and my headlights had a film on the inside that cannot be cleaned due to the fact that the units are sealed. The units must be replaced if it bothers you like it did me. All I can tell you is if you get a good one, they are amazing to drive and no other cars has the styling the Z8 has, especially the interior. I know I am biased because I own one, but I have had about every car under the sun and nothing gets your blood flowing like when you get behind the wheel of a Z8. Also, get rid of the original Bridgestone run flat tires and put on Michelin Pilot Sport 2's. The car rides and handles better and the also helps with the frame issue.

    P.S. I would only buy an American model. In the long run, they will be worth more money. Easy way to tell is that towards the end of the VIN, the car will have the letters AH instead of AF followed by five numbers, which is the number of the car.
    Regarding the VANOS issue, if you car is built 12/00 or later, the issue had been dealt with.
    Last edited by macfly; November 26th 2007 at 21:44.

  6. #6
    DSC Off CraZ8's Johnny Q's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone that responded.

    Forgive me if I am beating a dead horse, but I have a couple of questions regarding frame damage. My first instinct is to not even consider purchasing a car, any car for that matter, that has frame damage. However, it seems in the case of the Z8, the frame damage seems to be somewhat common, and to various degrees of damage. The damage also seems difficult to diagnose. I read in the frame forum that the only way to confirm damage to the frame is schedule an appointment with a BMW field engineer. I'm not sure if this is practical for a potential buyer to do this.

    Question #1. Should I consider purchasing a vehicle that I suspect has had frame damage? Then install the PP and hope for the best?

    Question #2. Does panel fit of the hood indicate frame damage, or was the fit not that great to begin with? The reason I ask is because I looked at and drove one Z8 so far. The gaps between the hood and fenders was larger towards the windshield and smaller (tighter) towards the headlights. The gaps looked the same on both right and left sides. I did not closely inspect the shock towers for bulging and angles of the bolts, but the gaps in the hood were obvious.

    Question #3. If I were to consider a car with frame damage, what kind of price discount should be placed on the vehicle, or what premium should be placed on a vehicle with no frame damage?

  7. #7
    In a nutshell don't even look at a car with the frame issue - aluminum can't be repaired, only replaced, and that is simply too much of an undertaking.

    The 'gaps' in the hood fitting are a symptom, but the can also be off without the car having the damage. The only way to really know is to have the car measured up by a FSE, but if the shock tower crowns are flat, and the bolts point up in parallel, then you're in good shape.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  8. #8
    DSC Off CraZ8's Johnny Q's Avatar
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    Thanks Andrew. After talking to another board member offline, I think I'll steer clear of cars that appear to have frame damage.

    On another note, I was just looking at the Z8 on the cover of the latest Roundel. Seeing that car on the cover started my latest fascination with the Z8. After turning to the article, I realized you were the photographer and writer. Great photo. I like the look of those BBS wheels on it.

  9. #9
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    I finally got a 2002 this past weekend after debating, ruminating and sarching for years. What a car!!!! I bought it from a local dealer in Orange County. Very easy to work with. Although the top is out of warranty, it had some "wear" at one of the stress points. The dealer negotiated with BMW to replace the top. BMW will pay for the top, I pay for the installation. This may be an option to discuss for some cars that have top issues.

    BSD

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraZ8's Johnny Q View Post
    Thanks to everyone that responded.

    Forgive me if I am beating a dead horse, but I have a couple of questions regarding frame damage. My first instinct is to not even consider purchasing a car, any car for that matter, that has frame damage. However, it seems in the case of the Z8, the frame damage seems to be somewhat common, and to various degrees of damage. The damage also seems difficult to diagnose. I read in the frame forum that the only way to confirm damage to the frame is schedule an appointment with a BMW field engineer. I'm not sure if this is practical for a potential buyer to do this.

    Question #1. Should I consider purchasing a vehicle that I suspect has had frame damage? Then install the PP and hope for the best?

    Question #2. Does panel fit of the hood indicate frame damage, or was the fit not that great to begin with? The reason I ask is because I looked at and drove one Z8 so far. The gaps between the hood and fenders was larger towards the windshield and smaller (tighter) towards the headlights. The gaps looked the same on both right and left sides. I did not closely inspect the shock towers for bulging and angles of the bolts, but the gaps in the hood were obvious.

    Question #3. If I were to consider a car with frame damage, what kind of price discount should be placed on the vehicle, or what premium should be placed on a vehicle with no frame damage?
    Hi Johnny
    Welcome to the board. I take exception to your claim that frame damage is somewhat common. Could you provide your reasons for saying this? My impression is that frame damage, while not exactly rare, may afflict a relatively small percentage of vehicles. I believe that the figure of 20% was kicked around some time ago from a casual survey and I believe this number to be a bit higher than reality. I suspect that this percentage is high enough that the chances of a shopper or enthusiast coming across one with damage is relatively good. But to me this does not mean the flaw is common. Does it? I guess it depends on what we think the word "common" means.

    In any case, happy to see you here and please don't take my discussion as an attack, but rather just a friendly disagreement.

    regards
    Ron

  11. #11
    DSC Off CraZ8's Johnny Q's Avatar
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    Ron,

    Maybe I missused the word "common". I guess my point was that the only time I have ever heard of frame damage it was the result of a crash. Any car that I have ever heard of with frame damage has been totalled or has a salvage titile. I have never been told as a prospective buyer of any car to carefully check the pannels and strut towers as a sign of frame damage for a vehicle that has never been in a crash.

    I really don't know what the figures are. 20% sounds like an insanely high number for this problem. 2 out of 10 cars? Yikes! I suspect that the number of regular, newer, steel frame, vehicles that have suffered frame damage without being in a wreck are lower by a factor of thousands. I also know that the premier site for Z8s (this site) has a dedicated "frame forum." I don't know of any other car site that has such a forum. After reading the posts in that forum, that led me to belieive that Z8s suffer frame damage without being in a wreck at an frequency far greater than other vehicles that I have owned. I have done no studies to back this up, but this has never even be a discussion on the other Porsche or BMW sites that I frequent.

    I am not trying to put down the car, yours or anyone else's. I love the Z8. I hope to own one soon. All cars have their share of problems. I have never owned a car with an aluminum frame. I am just looking for help and advice to get the right car for me.

  12. #12
    I realized you were the photographer and writer. Great photo. I like the look of those BBS wheels on it.
    Thanks!! It is a really exceptional car - the only thing I've been in that is anything like it is one of those racing Cobra's - both are truly wild and fabulous rides!
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  13. #13
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraZ8's Johnny Q View Post
    Ron,

    Maybe I missused the word "common". I guess my point was that the only time I have ever heard of frame damage it was the result of a crash. Any car that I have ever heard of with frame damage has been totalled or has a salvage titile. I have never been told as a prospective buyer of any car to carefully check the pannels and strut towers as a sign of frame damage for a vehicle that has never been in a crash.

    I really don't know what the figures are. 20% sounds like an insanely high number for this problem. 2 out of 10 cars? Yikes! I suspect that the number of regular, newer, steel frame, vehicles that have suffered frame damage without being in a wreck are lower by a factor of thousands. I also know that the premier site for Z8s (this site) has a dedicated "frame forum." I don't know of any other car site that has such a forum. After reading the posts in that forum, that led me to belieive that Z8s suffer frame damage without being in a wreck at an frequency far greater than other vehicles that I have owned. I have done no studies to back this up, but this has never even be a discussion on the other Porsche or BMW sites that I frequent.

    I am not trying to put down the car, yours or anyone else's. I love the Z8. I hope to own one soon. All cars have their share of problems. I have never owned a car with an aluminum frame. I am just looking for help and advice to get the right car for me.
    What you will find is that many other cars have similar problems, yet few have an owners group as dedicated and fastidious as the Z8 owners. My previous 2000 Ford expedition needed to have shims installed in order to bring the alignment into spec. What that means (and I confirmed) is that the frame had distorted over the years (about 5). I didn't mind, as it seems like a crude machine and far from a collector, which I no longer own, but who worries about such things on an appliance like that?. We Z8 owners, on the other hand, keep a watchful eye on anything that could hint at problems "later in life", and perfection is not a term we use loosely!

    The Z8 is such a special car, and holds a very dear spot in our hearts. You will find it a strangely rewarding affair! Have fun searching for, and aquiring her.

  14. #14
    Z8 Addict Z8doc's Avatar
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    Never was it 20%.

    Quote Originally Posted by CraZ8's Johnny Q View Post
    I really don't know what the figures are. 20% sounds like an insanely high number for this problem. 2 out of 10 cars? Yikes!
    This all started from a report from the Z8 Club of Germany and Ron is right in that the kick around number was "estimated" to be as high as 20% but... this number was NEVER substantiated and in fact, only a few vehicles were actually found to have cracks in the welds and it was never "proven" that it was in fact, due to a flaw in frame design, workmanship, engineering, etc. These few cars did have their frame fixed by BMW in good faith. The other cars that did have "damage" were proven to be because of trauma from huge road hazards like potholes at speed (say 60mph), railroad tracks, or bridge joins. IF these large hazards are hit in ANY car at any significant speed, you may sustain damage to many different parts, including the frame of any car. There were several cases of Z8 owners trying to tell BMW they had not such trauma, but in the end they fessed up that they did hit something.

    Bottom line, as Andrew points out, if the towers are flat, bolts straight, your probably OK. Most Z8s have been inspected by now by a Field Service Rep. and the results can be obtained by contacting (Bill Stuart) at BMW NA. He can also tell you if the car's Book was issued or not if the person or dealer you are buying from does not have the Book.

    The Vanos problem was on Z8s produced / build date before 11-30-2000. If the one you're interested in was built after that, again should be OK. Ask for a list of service, and where, as well as a list of upgrades & who did the work and where too.

    Happy Hunting -- fun but not nearly as much fun as you will have once you get one.
    Best Regards,

    Jeff
    61995 Silver /// Rot - Original Owner
    Z8 Club of Germany e.V. #102

  15. #15
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    Thanks for the extra detail on that issue, Jeff. One more additional bit of info is that I hear from local BMW mechanics that they often see 3 series BMWs come in with frame damage, specifically distorted shock towers. I guess that is because there are a lot of "aggressive" drivers in 3 series cars. So, this whole frame damage thing is not all that rare in other cars.

    Anyway, I was a bit interested to review the Vanos issue. My car is a Sept 2000 build date car and I had an upgrade done on my Vanos system about three years ago (can't exactly remember) which I believe fixed whatever the generic issue was. I specifically remember the mechanics saying how they had to take a fair bit of stuff to pieces, and it was an $800 labor bill, so it was not trivial. But to be honest, I can't remember what the problem was. The upgrade was done at the suggestion of my dealer and paid for by BMW. I think the factory issued a Field Bulletin or some such thing recommending the work be done. As for why mention this on this thread, I just thought it would be useful to point out that the Vanos issue should have been taken care of even in the older cars.

  16. #16
    As best I remember the Vanos issue affected not all, but many of the S62's over a certain build period ending in late 2000 - but I recently rechecked it on the M5 board, and sadly it seems that the Vanos issue actually happens to all S62's eventually, along with the Carbon Build Up issue, and the MAF's going bad.

    However the average mileage on E39 M5's is now around 75,000, and I think it is safe to say that they are driven both far more and far harder than our cars, so I don't expect this to be a huge issue for us. Even if I have to rebuild my motor at 50,000 miles that is not till 15 years away at my current rate of use! I just hope that Steve Dinan will still be making all his tasty upgrades for the S62 when that time comes!
    Andrew Macpherson

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  17. #17
    DSC Off CraZ8's Johnny Q's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z8doc View Post
    Most Z8s have been inspected by now by a Field Service Rep. and the results can be obtained by contacting (Bill Stuart) at BMW NA. He can also tell you if the car's Book was issued or not if the person or dealer you are buying from does not have the Book.
    Great information. I didn't realize this. I would have thought that there would be plenty of owners, not necessarily enthusiasts, that might have been oblivious to this issue. This will make looking for cars much easier if they have been inspected already.