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At $8,450, Is This 1997 BMW Z3 2.8 Hardtop A Bargain?

Good Price or No Dice 1997 BMW Z3

To be clear, today Good price or no dice Z3 is not a Miata, which as we all know is always the answer. That being said, some buyers may ask a different question. Let’s see what this answer should cost appropriately.

Though prolific in his short career, folksinger Jim Croce remarkably had only one number one song on the Billboard charts. It was bottled time and sadly, it only reached the top spot after Croce’s untimely death in a plane crash.

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Some might say that the 1967 Jaguar 420 saloon we watched Friday also captured time in a bottle. After all, his ad described him as a “time capsule.” It also pretty much topped our charts, earning accolades in the comments, and its asking price of $17,450 achieving a solid 88% win over Nice Price.

Photo: Craigslist

Photo: Craigslist

The 1997BMW Z3 2.8 we’re starting the week with today isn’t really a time capsule, although she looks quite pretty for her age. Plus, though, it’s more of a throwback. That is to say, this is a kind of car – the small two-seat open-top sports car – which, to some extent, had fallen into disuse two decades before the launch of the Z3.

The catalyst for BMW’s surprising entry into this niche was Mazda’s introduction a few years earlier of the MX-5 Miata. This roadster set the world on fire and seeing the success of the little Mazda in sales and in the motoring press, the bean counters at BMW said “we have to get some of it”. Of course, I’m paraphrasing. And of course they said it in German.

Photo: Craigslist

Photo: Craigslist

The Z3 proved reasonably successful for BMW, enough for the model line to get an M trim, a weird coupe edition and, eventually, a successor in the multi-generational Z4.

This one comes in bright red on a black interior with faux wood trim to accent it. It also offers four-season driving as it comes with the optional removable hardtop.

Photo: Craigslist

Photo: Craigslist

Like last week Viper, this BMW is said to come from a collection, and as such it has only covered 84,000 miles since new. It rolls on new tires mounted on Style 18 factory alloys. Well, those wheels still have their full washers on the center caps. The one on the clamshell hood, however, has seen too many car washes.

The paint seems to be in excellent shape despite this, as are the headlight lenses, which can be a sore point on these cars. One thing to note; the dealer selling the car does not show the soft top or mention its condition. No one should buy this car without first removing the hardtop and giving the softtop an erection or two.

Photo: Craigslist

Photo: Craigslist

Inside, things appear to be in full working order, although there is some sort of odd hooded display mounted on the dash. That dash is also plagued by a sagging glove box, something that’s endemic to almost all of these models. According to Pelican Parts, it’s a $20 quick fix. An aftermarket alarm or hidden radar detector has been added to the car, as evidenced by the red LED under the HVAC dials.

Photo: Craigslist

Photo: Craigslist

Besides the hardtop and the general condition, another of the attractions of this Z3 is its powertrain. That includes the 189-hp M52 2.8-liter inline-six and Getrag 250 five-speed manual transmission. As equipped, that gives the Z3 a lot more punch than the base four-pot, but not enough to overwhelm the car’s somewhat simplistic chassis.

A proper title wraps an arc around this roadster, signaling that it’s time to talk price. As I noted, this is a car offered by a dealer, so the asking price of $8,450 may not include the transaction fees that dealers inevitably try to add to a sale of used car. It also means you can’t play sales tax on the car at the DMV. Not that I’ve ever done that. Keep all of this in mind when considering your vote.

Photo: Craigslist

Photo: Craigslist

To that end, what’s your take on this Z3 and that $8,450 (more or less) price tag? Does that seem like a bargain given the car and its condition? Or, hard top or not, would you give it a hard pass at that price?

You decide!

Orange County, California, craigslistwhere to go here if the ad disappears.

Help me with NPOND. Contact me at [email protected] and tip me at a fixed price. Don’t forget to include your Kinja handle.

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#BMW #Hardtop #Bargain

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