Used 1996 BMW Z3

1996 BMW Z3
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1996 BMW Z3

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

We haven't driven BMW's latest offering. Chances are you haven't either. After starring with what's-his-name in the latest James Bond movie, the Z3 has gone on to international fame and fortune. Yes indeed, Z3 fever has hit the continent hard. Pre-orders for the peppy roadster caused a 1996 sell-out by February of this year. We find this extraordinary considering that few people outside of the automotive press have seen the vehicle in person, much less taken it for a test spin.

So, what's so special about this car? Obviously, the thrill of open-air motoring in a European two-seater is appealing to any baby boomer who owned an MGA, MGB or TR-6 when they were in college. Even better, the Z3 will undoubtedly be more driveable and comfortable than their counterparts of yesteryear. Twenty-somethings are attracted to the Z3 because of its undeniable sex appeal and attainable price. Everyone else loves it because it's a BMW; that means spirited driving and a wagon-load of prestige. The fact that the Z3 shares the 3-Series platform, engine, and many components, bodes well for the car's performance and safety.

The editorial staff at Edmund's has had a number of good-natured arguments over the character of this car. Some of us look at the Z3 and see a Miata rip-off. Others see a car that will fit quite nicely into BMW's M division, giving us some of the most exciting drop-top driving to be found on this side of the Italian Alps. We all think it's cute.

With summer nearing, and roadster excitement reaching a fever pitch, we longingly turn our eyes toward passing convertibles. We are certain that when the first Z3 passes us on the way to the grocery store we will turn green with envy. We won't, however, spend too much time pining over this year's Z3 sell-out; Mercedes, Porsche and Audi are releasing affordable roadsters within the next year, guaranteeing to add some excitement to a long-forgotten segment of the automotive industry.

As for the 1996 Z3, it is extremely attractive, the initial response from the automotive press has been great and we think that the minivan-saddled middle-class could definitely benefit from the loads of fun this affordable Bimmer has to offer. By the way, we'll take ours with the rocket launcher.

1996 Highlights

BMW follows Mazda's lead and introduces a roadster. This dreamy two-seater made its debut in the James Bond movie, "GoldenEye," and has had enthusiasts across the country drooling over its smart styling and impressive refinement. Featured as the perfect Christmas gift in the 1995 Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, BMW sold out of Z3s before the first one was released to the public.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 BMW Z3.

Overall Consumer Rating

Most helpful consumer reviews

Great Value
Steve D,09/07/2010
After having a Porsche Boxter (loved it), I tried a Mazda Miata and was disappointed. When the opportunity to purchase the Z3 came along I grabbed it. It has been a wonderful car and predictably reliable. The rear alignment has been problematic but besides that a great car.
The best car in it's class!
BMW Love,06/19/2002
Many people call the 1996 BMW Z3 underpowered because of its 4 cyld engine, but my friends, they are wrong on every count. The body and engine work as a team, providing on of the fastest cars in its class (4 cyld). NOt only is it the perfect body of a sports car .... it's a powerhouse! I fell in love the day I saw the BMW Z3 the first time on the road, I was 12 years old at the time, but I knew that day that the Z3 was the only car for me. Six years later, I own my dream car ... and it's everything I immagined it would be, and more. Don't let engine freaks talk you out of buying the 1996 model, just because it says 4 cyl doesn't mean it can't feel like a V12!
Fun, fun, fun
Doug G.,01/18/2006
The four cylinder Z3's may not have the oomph of the later six cylinder models, but it is fast enough to get one a speeding ticket! On the other hand, I believe the handling is lighter and better balanced without the extra weight of the six cylinder in the front. The four cylinder wants premium gas, but gas mileage is great! And, yes, people do stop and ask about the car or look as we drive by. The BMW dealers are expensive for service and/or repairs. But dropping the top on a sunny day and cruising the back roads makes it worth while!
No put down
Manny munoz,04/15/2016
Owning a 1996 for many years, I can't say one bad thing about it. When you buy a car , do your research. Don't buy, then find fault. Edmunds is the place to start and end in my opinion. Honest chatter only. This car, after becoming a sports car fan back in 1966, is a keeper. Owned jaguar 140 1957, porsche 911, spitfire triumph, etc. This car is the true top down , smooth going country backroad car. So was the jag. Ha. I am over six foot, 250 pounds and this can rail the corners, Safely. Retired, there are plenty of sites that can save you money. Many miles later and still Loving it ! The door pull broke, super glue fix, perfect! Replaced window switch, very cheap and easy. Still running like a top! Close to 170,000 miles no burning oil. I change it now just once a year. Use synthetic. If you want a reasonably priced Sports car I personally wouldn't look for any other than a Z3. The 1.9 engine will now burn rubber , yet it will keep the cornering interesting. A true country back roads car!
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Features & Specs

20 city / 29 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
138 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 1996 BMW Z3 features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 BMW Z3
Used 1996 BMW Z3 Overview

The Used 1996 BMW Z3 is offered in the following submodels: Z3 Convertible. Available styles include 1.9 2dr Convertible.

What's a good price on a Used 1996 BMW Z3?

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Which used 1996 BMW Z3s are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1996 BMW Z3s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used BMW Z3 for sale - 8 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $20,823.

Find a used BMW for sale - 4 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $11,215.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW Z3 for sale - 8 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $25,118.

Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 2 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $9,090.

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Should I lease or buy a 1996 BMW Z3?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out BMW lease specials
Check out BMW Z3 lease specials