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BMW Z3 Coupe
Back in 1995 when BMW introduced the Z3 roadster (E36/7) it suddenly became a wanted piece. The successor of the less understood Z1 was a hit despite the fact that only the bigger of the small four pot engines (M43, M44) had enough power (140 PS) to give it more dynamism as a melting iceberg.
It was the shape and the build quality that sold the car which was often criticized for weak performance and a plastic back window. In those days, the Mazda MX-5 was simply a better, more handful and much more fun roadster.
Shortly after the Z3's launch BMW said that they don't plan to put the inline six under the bonnet. Nobody believed this.
It took two years ('til 1997) for the creamy M52-M54 to arrive under the long hood. Shortly after, the Z3 gained more power with the best engines ever made by BMW: the S50-S54 from their actual M3. Oh, and did you know, that the normal Z3 seatframe is the same as the Porsche Boxster's? Only with enough difference to made it horribly uncomfortable. After a few hundred made and a lots of angry phone calls, they had to redesign them.
On 28th of October 1997 they made the 100 000th Z3. The last one left the assembly line in Spartanburg on June 28th 2002. It was number 298 735 and the last one of the first BMW made outside Europe.
But we're not here to talk about a shiny little roadster with too firm suspension, weak body rigidity, choking four cylinders and owners in midlife crisis. No, the Z3 roadster is a forgettable car. But there's something that's gonna be cult like the Fender Stratocaster, a real, automotive sure shot of pure, driving joy in a flagrant body. It is ugly to our mother or girlfriend, but bear in mind that maybe this is the last chance to grab one of those raw, pure and lightweight BMW's which doesn't look boring or clueless.
The Z3 coupe is the real breadvan of the 21st century. But only for bakers with guts. This is not a peacock-roadster, this is a car to Drive. Yes, with a capital D.
The roof gives the body more strength, the suspension was revised and stiffened up for better handling and just after a few miles the car fulfilled us with that good old feeling, that no BMW of nowadays can: gosh, it's a nice car to drive. They made only 16 649 of it, plus 3926 of the nuke-dopped Z3M.
So there is a chance that you'll never see this car parking on the driveway of your ever annoying neighbor. Its outrageous styling with the shooting brake-like roofline and widened, massive body with a long nose-short deck made it look like a caricature of a small estate. They are not cheating with the body. It has a clear message: I am sharp, fast, not suitable for children under 30 years. The Z3M of old is now Jason Voorhees on wheels.
It looks flawless while parking on the street, at the mall but even so in the middle of a corner, drifting on those fat rear wheels. It has a special spec: the behind-the-wheel-smile-generator. There's no view angle from which we can't imagine the small tat as the accelerator reaches the floor. It's similar to something what Marquis de Sade could have felt (a stiffening in his nether regions) when the maid bent down before him to pick up the soap.
It's inexplicable where Marcus Syring and the whole BMW found the boldness to bring out a shape like this, but Mr. Syring deserves a life-sized statue for it. In Wolfsburg or Stuttgart.
This car – like 75 percent of the Z3 Coupes – wears typical, small signs of repaired crash'n'bumps. Well, forgiveness was never a trait of the Z3 Coupe, the owner needs some skills to handle it properly so be advised: nearly every one of them had some bodywork-history.
Gergő bought this 1997-made car back in time for 9000 USD. It wasn't a bad price then, considering the fact that the car covered only 112 000 kilometers from new. Of course there's still some work to do with the catastrophic state of the aftermarket parts (side vents, door handles), but from the mechanical side, the car is perfect. Okay, shortly after the purchase the clutch and the thermostat were replaced, but nothing else went to fritz, nothing fancy was needed except regular maintenance.
If you want one, you need to prepare about 50 percent more cash as for the Roadster. The best place for buying one is Germany, you can find really nice looking ones with leather upholstery and manual gearbox (forget the automatic) from about 6000 euros, and for seven grand you can have the more powerful Z3 3.0i. But if you want safety and good reliability, you need to go for those units they made a tad later, like this one. They cost a lot more too, somewhere around 13 000 euros.
The spares are not as pricey as we thought. Since the Z3 is based on the E36 BMW you can have almost anything for a bargain price. Except the body panels - they're pricey as hell.