Hooniverse Asks: Will the E89 Z4 Ever Become a Classic?

Creak… groan…. wheeze… You hear that? That’s the sound of BMW’s E89 Z4, which despite almost constant attention from the brand has fallen seriously behind the competition. Well, perhaps competition isn’t the right word as the E89 has never really been able to go toe to toe with cars like Porsche’s Boxster on competence, nor Mazda’s MX5 on price or s’cuteness factor. And now it seems, we won’t have the Z4 to kick around anymore.
BMW has announced that Z4 production at their Regensburg factory will cease in August. Perhaps admitting that they have missed the mark in this segment after three attempts, no replacement is yet in the queue. A new car, internally noted as G29, is promised down the road. That one is being developed in partnership with Toyota, but may not see the headlight of day until the decade is done.
There are still quite a few Z4s out there, so if you’ve been jonesing for one, don’t worry there still should be some low-mileage examples on the pre-owned market for a few years to come. The question is, would you really want one? The cars have a number of frustration-inducing flaws including steering that’s as lifeless as a wet dishrag, ergonomics that may make you think the car was designed by the Italians, and drivetrain choices that were kind of ‘meh.’
The Z4’s predecessor, the Z3 never made much of an impact when new, and it’s been kind of a turkey on the used car market as well. That’s somewhat surprising as it’s a BMW, and a Roadster (plus the odd looking clownshoe coupe). If that car ever becomes a classic in the steps of the E30 or E24 coupes it will be a surprise. Despite its flaws, the E89 Z4 is a vastly more competent car than the Z3, but it too has been unloved during its production run. Do you think it will ever overcome that and find a place among the pantheon of great and desirable BMW models?
Image: BMW USA

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  1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    When I saw that there is a Ford Pinto club, I figure everything is collectible.

    1. Alff Avatar

      Makes some sense to me. I’d rather have a nice Pinto. Make it an orange Cruising Wagon.

        1. Alff Avatar

          No, thanks. It’s enticing but I’ve heard that exotics are hard to care for.

    2. Kiefmo Avatar

      Let me know when there’s a Hyundai Excel club — then I’ll have seen everything.

        1. Kiefmo Avatar


          1. nanoop Avatar

            I am not a native speaker, but I can tell that that’s a mixture of ‘to wince’ and a cry for ‘help’.

          2. Inliner Avatar

            Clubs form when unloved hooptie owners need help in solving their problems.

        2. Sjalabais Avatar

          Your Google-Fu is excel-lent.

    3. mdharrell Avatar

      I’m of the opinion that everything is collectible, but I’ve also been told therapy can help with this.

      1. dukeisduke Avatar

        Except in your case. 🙂

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          Nevertheless I don’t intend to risk it.

  2. Alff Avatar

    Sure, but not in my garage.

  3. Maymar Avatar

    The first generation of Z4 got an M-variant, and an interesting coupe, so it will be classic. The Clownshoe is already a classic. The current generation is roughly a BMW SLK, an also ran variant in a dying class. I’m sure there will be nostalgia for it one day, but many years in the future.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      …but isn’t the Z3 somewhat cheap? Not C70-cheap, but still…not a gold investment competition yet.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Actually, strangely enough, in my market, plain Z3s command about $10k, give or take (about the same as early Z4s, which should in theory be a superior car). But, Clownshoes are worth a bit more than that (I’d have to look to be sure, but I think you’d be lucky to find one for $25k), and will probably end up worth more than the Z4 coupe.

  4. Manic_King Avatar

    Then again, previous Z4, the E85 is kinda respected in 3+ L, 6-cyl form. Boxster is better because of mid-engine, but Z4 can be easier to live with. Nissan’s Z cars have less cachet. Maybe some day…..

  5. Greg Kachadurian Avatar
    Greg Kachadurian

    For looks alone, I think it’ll be a classic of sorts. Probably not super high dollar though because they made tons of them. I’ve been a huge fan of the E89’s design since the day I saw it but never really loved it until I spent a couple minutes messing around in the Z4 35is. It’s a riot.

    1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

      I am also a fan of the looks, and the pseudo-Z8 interior is a very nice place to spend time. The base 28i is, unfortunately, awful in every dynamic measure- slow, under-damped AND under-sprung, and largely sold with the slurring, confused 6-speed automatic. The 35i and 35iS are somehow transformed into extraordinary machines- fast, composed, comfortable, responsive, and again FAST.
      …wait, that’s exactly like the Z3 range. So yes, the 35iS at least will likely be collectible (like the 3.0i clownshoes and Z3Ms).

  6. nanoop Avatar

    They made like 200k in six years, so there will be enough third and fourth owners to ruin the image in the coming 15 years by investing into stereos instead of maintenance. Consequently, the nice examples are in caring but clenching hands already, and the rest will go the way of the 944: whenever a major issue occurs (and the issues will come due to both age and negligence) it’s totaled.

    1. jeepjeff Avatar

      And after the totalling, the LS swaps!

      1. nanoop Avatar

        “Why should I fix an overly complicated, high-strung 2.5L I6 if I can just drop in an LS1 with 450HP for no money on a Saturday afternoon?”

        1. jeepjeff Avatar

          Backed by a 4l60e!

  7. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I hope not then I can buy one for cheapz.
    Then I hope they all disappear into obscurity so mine becomes not just another Z4.
    I really like them.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      They are the best exemplar and purest example of Chris Bangle’s controversial, (much derided?) flame styling, the only car on which it arguably really works. Sooo much better looking than the lumpen Z3, (that little turd is IMHO BMW’s worst ever, most cynical car.)

  8. Monkey10is Avatar

    I’ve not driven either, but the Z4 Coupe

  9. Valor007 Avatar

    The one that will be collectable will be the E89 Twin Turbo Six cylinder with a manual gearbox. Unlike the Z3 and first generation Z4, both of which were built in the United States, the last generation Z4 was actually built in Bavaria. Unlike the prior generations the last Z4 had an interior that rivaled if not exceeded Mercedes SL quality. It is also the only generation with folding hardtop (aluminum). Plus, with the twin turbo N54 motor its cheap and easy to get 450 reliable horsepower while with bit more work guys are pushing much more than that. This is the ultimate sleeper car. Plus production numbers are much lower for the E89 in general:
    BMW E84 Z4: South Carolina: 180,856 units produced
    BMW Z3 Production: South Carolina: 279,273 units produced
    BMW Z4 E89: Produced in Regensburg, Bavaria Germany 115k units produced
    So, total E89 production numbers much lower than prior generation cars and of these 115k cars produced in total globally, small number of them are twin turbo six cylinder cars.
    By comparison, Porsche is probably closing in on nearly a million Boxsters.