I'm the third - and likely last - owner of our Z3. Paid well under the $7,500 asking price (125k miles) when a BMW Dealer pre-sale inspection (do this!!) found $6k in bad rear trailing arms and old/cracked/leaking critical engine parts/seals. A good independent shop did it for $4k. Was it worth it? OHMYLORDYES! This is the Roadster my old Miata always wanted to be. Takes my breath away every time I open the garage, and again every time I open the throttle. The S52 engine is the best of the bunch. Just be prepared to pay a premium to fix all the nits that crop up. Resale values are rising for later models in good repair. If you find one under $10k this looker is definitely worth a 2nd look. *update* Edmunds asked for an updated review. The only thoughts to add are frustrations with a shot rear transaxle now, and the realization that while it's fun, it's not an investment. For the money I've invested in purchase and repairs I could have gotten a very nice used Miata, with fewer headaches. *update* Drive shaft replaced at 165k miles, $1,500. Still mostly happy.
First thing's first, and this goes without saying, the car is absolutely gorgeous. I found my 2001 on a Chevy lot, and it blew all of the modern designs of the new lines of Chevy out of the water. (except for the new 'vette, which the previous owner traded the z3 in for) Prior to buying this car, I only had practical experience driving a manual. It was years since I last tried. But within a week, I had it down with the Z3. This car performs so well, you can't help but drive it. The vehicle's handling is superb. You could do a turn on a dime with this thing, and NOW I understand why U turns and curved roads are just so damn fun to drive on. Nice low purr to the engine. The dealers told me the convertible top didn't work, but after actually reading the car's manual, I found out it worked just fine. The ride is smooth and the cabin noise is minimal. I'm not looking forward to the eventual repairs that I know are necessary for a 15 year old car, but I'll definitely thoroughly enjoy every day up until then. A couple of cons with my particular vehicle: Passenger side door won't open from the outside. In the car's maintenance history, there's a work order that showed repairing the door would be a $600 job that required disassembly of the whole door. Also, there's a slight leak in the roof on the passenger side. The CD player skips on bumpy roads. Minor inconveniences for a ride this exciting.
Had a 318i for 7 years- never a problem with repairs, etc. Only got rid of it because it had 100,000+ miles on it and was worried it might start breaking down. Bought the Z3 as a preowned vehicle - with warranty. Have had it in shop countless times, last time being it needed a new radiator - have had lots of repair issues, it is now just out of warranty and I am hoping it will not break down any more. Love the car, it's cute and fun but disappointed in repairs so far. Other BMWs superior to this one :(
This is my forth BMW having owned a 320iS, a 528e, an M3 and now my beloved 2001 2.5 z3. I have also driven a Porsche 911 and a Corvette and this z3 is perhaps better than all the others combined. It certainly handles as good or better than any car I have ever driven. The looks are classic "old school" roadster and the BMW marque is well respected throughout the world. I would not hesitate to recommend the z3 to anyone looking to add fun to their driving experience. And finally it has been a huge hit with our two teenage daughters and of course their mother. The pick up driving son is not yet convinced it is a fit mode of transportation.
This car has been great fun at a low cost. You can find a Z3 in great condition at a reasonable cost. It is a real enthusiasts car, with excellent power, great handling, and smiles every time you get behind the wheel.