James Bond drove a Z3. So if you want a bit of affordable 007-cool, then this is arguably the best way to do it – and certainly a lot cheaper than an Aston Martin DB5.
Thanks in no small part to the success of the Mazda MX-5, the roadster market underwent something of a resurgence in the 1990s, with manufacturers across Europe, Japan and the USA keen to muscle in on the renaissance of the traditional drop top.
The BMW Z3 was one of the most important. A traditional two-seater, it would be the first BMW to be produced in the USA at the company’s Spartanburg factory in South Carolina. It was penned in the USA, too, with a styling team led by Chris Bangle. Indeed, in many ways the Z3 is more American than it is German, save for the badge on the bonnet and, of course, its chassis and mechanical components, for under the skin it’s a 3-Series E36, but with a sports car body.
It had a choice of BMW engines ranging from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder to a 3.0-litre straight six, which was the flagship model owned by 007 and is also the model offered for sale here.
Production of the Z3 began in September 1995, with the car being revealed to the world via the medium of film. And by that, we don’t mean viral videos sent out via social media as this was not a ‘thing’ at the end of 1995. Instead, BMW pulled out all of the stops and did a deal with EON Productions, makers James Bond films for the film to appear just ahead of the car.
For the first time, the world’s most famous secret agent would be found not at the wheel of a British car, but driving a BMW Z3 in the launch shade of Atlantic Blue with tan leather. Hardly the thing for covert surveillance, but the tie-in with Goldeneye gave BMW a huge publicity boost, and launched BMW’s new roadster in inimitable style.
It also left an impression on a lot of youngsters, which means the Z3 is a popular modern classic these days, and one that’s steadily increasing in value.
This example is a case in point – recommissioned by a young BMW Car Club member after being laid up, it’s probably one of the best 3.0-litre Z3s on the market.
Supplied new in 2000, the car was ordered with a number of extras including a red and black M-spec interior, Cosmos Black paint, body-coloured hardtop and BMW rollover bars. The Z3 was kept in dry storage from 2016 until 2019, when the current owner put it back on the road and paid out for a general mechanical overhaul, including a full major service.
Prior to that, it was comprehensively maintained, with a full early service history and some major repairs documented, such as a full clutch change and alternator in 2014 – expensive jobs that the next owner needn’t fret over.
The Z3 has a comprehensive service and repair history, with a folder full of records and receipts including:
Original leather bound vehicle owner’s manual
Official BMW service records 2003 to 2007
Service records from 2013 onwards (during this time servicing appears to have been demand-driven and the receipt from 2019 notes that “no service required”)
11/01/03 BMW Inspection Sheet
26/09/05 Service Bill £343.48 BMW Elms Stansted with inspection sheet
17/01/2007 Service Bill BMW Wood Salisbury
31/07/07 BMW Inspection Sheet
16/02/13 Brakes pads front and rear and service
22/08/13 Receipt for replacement chrome door handles
28/08/13 Service Bill BMW Elms Stansted – replacement keys
29/03/13 Service Bill £1,000.39 Independent
08/04/14 Front stabiliser drop links and anti-roll bar links
08/04/14 Alternator and power steering fan belt change – Wilson Lendrum
22/04/14 Clutch change
26/04/14 Stainless steel performance mid-section to exhaust £
2017: new front brake callipers and brake fluid replaced by BMW specialist
31/03/17 Service Bill £347.00 BMW Specialist
28/05/19 Service Bill £254.34 BMW Specialist
25/06/19 Service Bill £217.50 BMW Specialist
13/06/19 Service Bill BMW Specialist both ABS sensors replaced
2019: replacement key batteries
It also comes with a UK V5 and recent MoT valid until November 2021. The registration number is non-transferable but is the original plate, reinstated after the car had a private number in the past.
The cabin of the Z3 is in excellent order, as you’d expect from a BMW with less than 70,000 on the clock. It’s well-equipped, with black and red two-tone accents and BMW ‘M’ styling signatures and electrically adjustable heated seats. It comes with a BMW “M” badged steering wheel and gear stick and is fitted BMW “M” floor mats. Other features include air con, a BMW ‘Business’ CD player and a boot-mounted BMW CD multi-changer. The seller has advised us that the radio can, during periods of cold weather, be slightly temperamental and pixelate on the display if cold. Apart from this, it works just fine!
The original electric soft top is in working order and the car also comes with an official BMW hard top with genuine fitting kit, manual and protective storage cover. A micro-fibre towel is used to protect the rear plastic window when the roof is down.
The Z3 looks fantastic in Cosmos Black, Helped by the fact that this is the wide-bodied model that looks far more purposeful than the narrow bodied cars. It has 17-inch alloy wheels with black centres, along with Chrome M-badged strips on the front wings.
The bodywork is in near-perfect condition and the car has been recently clay-barred and professionally waxed and polished. All of the original BMW badges and emblems are in good condition.
The BMW M54 engine is renowned for being one of the smoothest and most responsive six-cylinder engines of its era.
In this car, it doesn't disappoint. It starts on the button and settles to a steady idle, while the comprehensive service history backs up the fact that everything it has needed over the past 20 years, it has got.
It comes with a five-speed manual gearbox which operates smoothly throughout all of gears, while there are no untoward noises from the car’s suspension or brakes.
This is a really pretty and clearly well-loved example of the BMW Z3. It's also a particularly desirable specification thanks to the combination of its wide bodywork, M-spec interior and 3.0-litre engine. All of those things add up to making it as good as a Z3 can be and as a result it has stacks of appeal to fans of the model.
As a car to enjoy, and in all weathers thanks to that hardtop, it's one that also represents a safe longer term investment and has a huge amount going for it.
**The photos in this listing have been provided to us by the seller **
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