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. The 70 dollar oil change is half. I do it for the pleasure. One problem that was that the seat track guides wear out. The easy fix was extending the seat all the way back. No problem, if a six footer. The long hood is classic. 166,000 miles and no noticeable performance change. Friends have same type car with a third of the mileage and they can't tell any difference. This car deserves to be treated right. It will take care of your pleasure driving. Best sports car ever. 1.9 is perfect.
I've had my Z for about a month now and have had nothing but pure joy. Styling is amazing. So sleek and smooth. No doubt it has aged perfectly and will continue to age much better than the the Z4. People will ask what year it it is and I tell them to guess. Their average guess is 2002 lol. Lots of people complain about performance, but luckily mine came with a supercharger made specifically for the 96' Z3 and boosted the power to 225hp. Yup that's right horsepower more than the 6 cylinder. Handling is perfect, you can go around a curve at 50 miles an hour when it suggests 35 with ease and comfort. All in all a great car that will age perfectly and last forever.