I’ve been speaking to keen reader Steve and it does seem that my practical advice about how to go about selling your used car has gone down reasonably well. In this case, Steve needs to move on his very tidy BMW Z3. Inspired by that, here’s a celebration of the rather excellent, overlooked and undervalued Z3.
It has had a pretty average press over the years. When it was new, some thought it looked like nothing more than a slightly more purposeful and less soft-soap-styled MG F. I don’t think that’s the case now. They look like fabulously heroic, long-bonneted roadsters and are great to drive as there is enough old BMW underneath to make them huge fun.
You can buy ‘spares and repairs’ and insurance write-off Z3s for hundreds, but the great news is that a grand will now get you a 1997 1.9 – full leather, two owners, loads of history and 148,000 miles. Or if you fancy a six-cylinder, I saw a 1999 one in a traditional silver finish and with just 117,000 miles. It was a dealer car with decent history. Both of these Z3s were just £995. I know everyone is constantly going on about bagging a Mazda MX-5 for fun and giggles, but I would argue that one of these pocket-sized BMWs would be even more characterful and interesting.
There are even tidier ones at £1750 or so but, at that point, maybe it is time to raise the engine game. Miss out the 2.2 and make the leap to a 2.8. This is a good juncture, should you need your memory jogging, to be reminded of the sheer wonder and magnificence of the chrome pack. On a dark metallic blue car, it really makes the body ‘pop’, as a young designer might say. So a 1999 Z3 with one of those wide-bodied, er, bodies, chrome, electric hood, air conditioning plus bills for recent work was just £2995 – and that looks cheap. A 2001 3.0 with a deeper front spoiler and 93,000 miles that had been reduced in price to £5500 was another standout in the classifieds.