“BMW Z3” and “illogical lust” are not usually found in the same sentence. BMW’s first mass-produced, mass-market roadster took off among the dental hygienist crowd, but the early cars were regarded as too heavy, too underpowered and too big. This BMW Z3 roadster, though, is a whole different kettle of fish. Maybe BMW should’ve gone this route when they launched it in the first place.
Offered on Craigslist in Denver, Pennsylvania, the BMW Z3 “Offroadster” is part cool, Eurotrash roadster, part lifted off-roader.
All to many half-witted creations like this are just a body, plopped atop a K5 Blazer frame, simultaneously destroying two vehicles at once. The thing you have to love about this one is that it’s largely built using the original BMW Z3’s unibody, and sticks with a BMW drivetrain instead of opting for the ubiquitous Chevy 350.
“The car started life as a 1.9L four-cylinder automatic,” says the seller, which makes this Z3 the ultimate candidate for hackery. Of all the Z3s, four-cylinder automatics are perfect fodder to be messed with.
In its place went the engine that should’ve taken up space under the hood in the first place: an OBD1 2.5-liter BMW six-cylinder, with a Getrag five-speed manual transmission. The transmission is shifted by an aftermarket Bimmerworld shifter, but one that saw duty in a racecar that got hit on the track and doesn’t shift as well as it should. “It’s a pain but manageable once you adjust,” says the seller.
The car itself only has about 65,000 miles, but the engine and transmission are clocking in at around 200,000 miles.
The lift comes courtesy of BMW E36 328i Bilstein front shocks and OEM springs, E328i rear shocks and OEM springs from a non-Sport Package BMW 3 Series. The wheels are E36 15-inch steel, with two-inch bolt-on spacers and 235/75/15 Goodyear All Terrain tires.
Our erstwhile coachbuilder trimmed the rear fenders to clear the tires. “I did a fair amount of hammering things in other areas for clearance,” reads his text. The front sway bar has been relegated to the scrap metal pile, but it’s available if “handling” is in your list of wants.
Aside from the fender trimming, the body has undergone a lot of additional modification, sometimes for profit. “z3 hoods and headlights are worth a small fortune so I sold them,” the seller says. The hood instead comes from an E36 3 Series coupe, that interestingly has the same latch as the Z3 and uses the factory hood release. The back end is bolted together with metals traps. Good news! “Headlights/corners are wired in and mounted enough not to fall out.”
The fender flares are another ingenious bit of body modification. They’re made out of landscape edging. Chew one up in your off-road adventuring? $32/roll at Lowe’s.
Is there an interior? “Some,” reads the ad. The dash, seats and console are present, but the carpet, door panels and other cushy trim of the proletariat have been scaled onto the ash heap. The safety conscious should understand that there are no airbags installed. “If you’re crazy and want to put them back in I’ll send them along,” says the seller.
Plenty. The top has no rear window. There is no muffler. The m50 runs okay but could use some basic maintenance. Fuel gauge and temp gauge do not work. Electric fan kicks on but it’s noisy because it hit a rock and cracked the housing. I used the 4 cylinder radiator, it seems to work fine but the cap doesn’t seal well and leaks a bit. A proper 6 cylinder setup would be ideal. Open diff, I don’t know the ratio, whatever an auto 1.9 z3 has. Paint is rattle canned and It’s caked in dirt and mud inside and out. Deal with it.
Like those ads for cars doing all kinds of dumb stuff on television commercials, there are some pretty sizeable disclaimers. It has a “reconstructed” title, and it’s registered and insured in Pennsylvania, and it does “drive down the road.” However, the seller notes, “it is not and will not be state inspected. It is intended for Off-Road fun purposes and if you choose to register it and drive it on the road, good luck. This likely won’t pass emissions anywhere so please be aware of that.”
The seller is amazingly accepting offers for trades, for interesting European stuff or 4×4 ATVs. ” Please don’t offer me your only car though,” he warns. “That would be really, really stupid.”
Yes, $2,800 might seem a little rich for a Z3 you can’t possibly register unless you qualify for a “FARM” plate in Vermont, but what else can you get for this kind of money, a ride-on lawn tractor?
“Think it’s overpriced?” reads the ad. “I don’t care what you think.”
“I had fun putting it together and took it out in the mud and snow a time or two so I’m ready to do something new. For me the build is the fun part even on a crapcan like this,” says the seller. “Look at it, it’s a fun toy, not a nice car. Don’t plan on driving it home unless you live close.”
“It’s definitely not headed to SEMA and it’s pretty useless in general but it looks damn cool and that’s why you have a really odd desire to have it.”