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 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!
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!
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!
purchased used around 2000. fun to drive, handles great and mpg close to 30 hwy. some things to look for if buying. 1 interior door pulls/handles have a tendency to come off (very poor design IMO) replacements very expensive 2 check seams on top and around window, if you can't see them they aren't there. meaning a replacement also expensive. 3 top WILL leak but most convertibles do LOL 4 my clear coat first clouded then flaked off. 5 know a good mechanic, not because it breaks frequently, but so you don't get gouged if it does