A few years ago, I wrote a piece about my “bargain” 1999 BMW Z3. Bargain in the sense that when I bought it in 2013, it was the least-expensive running six-cylinder Z3 in the country available on Craigslist—its price driven down by mildew from sitting outside, a dead battery, multiple dash lights blazing, and an expired inspection sticker. I threw a fresh battery in it, drove it home, cleaned it up, fixed a couple of things, and got an almost sinful level of pleasure out of it for the next five years.
Read the full column on Hagerty.com:
Rob, I can't agree more on the convertible idea.
As a matter of fact, only one of my toy cars (the practical one, a pickup that we use to haul everything from engines to plywood) has a fixed roof. My wife stipulates if the car is going to be impractical, make it totally impractical and get a drop-top.
For me, nothing is better than as few electronic driving aids as possible, wind, a static-y, knob tuned AM/FM radio, and a third pedal. Stick the smartphone in the glovebox, find a roadside diner/ice cream stand and leave me alone for a few hours.
Although I'm a Benz guy for my German vehicles (the two daily drivers and two toys), I've always had a soft spot for Z3s. It was a return, IMO to BMWs roots. Drove like my Dad's 2002 tii with the rev-happy little motor, and direct connected steering (long gone, sadly.) The styling was knockout when launched, and has aged better than the Z4.
If Zelda needs a home, reach out.. We'll let it sit next to the wife's R107 in the barn.
Agree 100% on the "I could care less what you think about me driving with the top down in <insert inappropriate month here>." I have an E93 328, the first 3 series with the origami metal roof. It has AWESOME seat heaters, and I sourced a wind blocker for the back seat, so it is downright cozy even in winter. I take it out whenever I can and get my vitamin D fix.
Oh and that metal roof turns the car into a very comfy coupe on those too-hot summer days as well. 😉
Loved your comments of, when to, and when not to drive a convertible. I also agree with your appreciation for the Z3. I've been driving convertibles of various types every year since 1975. Your when to drive recommendations are on the money. There is nothing worse than bumper to bumper traffic on the Garden State Pkwy with the roof down in blazing humid 95+ degrees! humid
I also own a 2000 Z3 Titanium Silver with 17k miles. The low miles are due to the fact that, like yourself, I have several other vehicles that I'm constantly jockeying in the garages and driveway. I've owned the Z3 since new. I can't think of another convertible that is so affordable, packed with German vault build quality, coupled with great handling and a bulletproof naturally aspirated straight six!
Best of health to you, and if course Zelda. Keep the great articles & books flowing.
An option would be to off the clown shoe and go for an M Roadster. I special order a 2000 BMW M Roadster, Estoril Blue with an all black interior (not a fan of the two tone). It was the last year of the black background gauges and with the chrome trim on the gauges it had the British look. Ran it a lot with AC blasting or heater in the fall. Love that car but the wife didn't so it was mainly a commuter and fun blasts to the store.
I too am a convertible guy. I disagree on one point, My 17 year owned, 93,000 mile Boxster has never leaked a drop of water and my AC works really well. Yes, there is nothing like an open roadster in all but the hottest most sunny days. P.S. I'm in Boston too, great sports car drives!
Bought a Z3 new in 1998, still have it. It fills a gap between the utilitarian Honda van, for dog transport, and the W111 sedan, for leisurely backroad drives. Can't foresee a time when I would want to sell it, and at nearly a quarter million miles...not sure who would be brave enough to take it on. Either way, love my little blue car!
"In the cooler evening air, I immediately experienced the whole-body relaxation response that a convertible brings, and as soon as I was on a good driving road"
Wow, that line in the story was very interesting to me. I used to own a 1974 450SL, and with the top down, the exact same thing would happen to me once I reached an open road about 2 miles from my house. I thought it was just that car that could give me that effect. It's good to know that if I get another convertible some day, I may experience it again.