While in college in the late 1960's, I owned an Austin Healey 100-4. The Z-3 I purchased in 1997 had all the elements that I loved about the Austin Healey. The 6 cylinder in a must for the Z-3 and frankly the only color to consider if you are an aficionado is the dark green with tan interior and top. Any one who reports that there is insufficient power or that the top is too hard to put up is not a roadster devotee. Boys, step aside and let the real men tell you what constitutes a genuine sports car. Thank you BMW for bringing back a car that is in the lineage of the Austin Healey, Morgan and MG.
The well-designed cockpit; the tight shift; and the classic design.
Too late now, but the car never should have been sold in anything but manual transmission. If you can't drive a "stick shift" then buy a Honda Accord and wear your cap with the initial "B" for boring.
I have wanted this car since I saw it in GoldenEye and the deal I got was just too good to pass up. It had only 29,000 mi on it when I bought it and everything in all the reviews that drivers had issues with had already been fixed (her father owned a BMW dealership) so it was perfect. I am 5'2" so it fits me to a T and I just drove 400 mi this weekend and was totally comfortable. Every day I drive it someone comments on what a beautiful car it is and I agree. It is not for everyone, larger drivers will not be comfortable, but they can buy any other car. It runs like a dream and is very reliable, most parts that I have had to replace were the originals. I intend to keep it forever.
Steering and acceleration are awesome, it is just a fun car to drive, especially since I bought Michelins for it - it is by far my favorite - it is just the perfect car for me.
As for the plastic rear window, I polished it with Mother's polish and I take care of it, so mine still looks new. I do wish the seat could go up just a little higher...but the power windows, cruise control and automatic door locks make up for it. Everyday I am more than happy that I bought it.
After gas went sky high in mid-2008, I started looking for a commuter car, but also wanted fun. After some research, I decided on a Z-3, and looked on Auto Trader and E-Bay for a good one. I was fortunate to find a 1997 with the 2.8 six cylinder, five speed and only 42,000 miles. After nearly a year, I can tell you this was a great choice. Plenty of performance and drop top fun, plus a solid 26.8 mpg. I bet the 4 cyl are even better mileage, but the 6 is awesome. These cars have some quirks, like a sloppy seat track that allows you to slip forward and back on braking, but overall the car is a great value. Unfortunately, you aren't likely to find a good one at the Edmunds price.
6 cylinder performance. Easy top operation. Styling is superb. Larger interior than competitors. Simple dash layout.
Tighter seat tracks. Radio and speaker upgrade is almost a must. Better convertible top rear window design, glass would have been perfect, but it is too late for that.
I am sorry I have not bought at least 5 Z3s. Of the 52 cars I have owned in my life this is my favorite. When the car first came out a friend let me drive his 1.9 around Elkhart Lake and it was a ball, albeit under powered for that track. Then I bought the regulatory Boxster then an SL 500 plus others. At last I found a pristine 1997 2.8. Wow, this car is so well balanced that it makes even an old timer like me look good in the twisties. The 2.8 engine is wonderful. Lots of torque and smooth. Yes, I know the M; to me the M has so much power for the chassis that it is, Corvette like. I will keep my 97 for a very long time even if I find a perfect 2002. Enjoy!
I bought my Z3 used with 86,000 miles showing. It has many of the typical flaws of this car. Sagging glove box, sliding seats, leaky top, seriously crappy sound system, and cracks forming in the rear subframe. It will be worth the price of admission once all the gremlins are finally taken care of.