"For the money in terms of pound for pound fun quotient, you can't go wrong with a clean, low mileage Z3. One caution: the six cylinder version generates a ton or heat in a small compartment and you need to have a thorough pre-purchase done before buying. There's nothing wrong with that but be aware you're going to have radiator and hose issues with the six. One other universal nagging problem is that the power seats will "slip" slightly when you stop or start. It's a $400 fix at a dealer to replace bushings, etc.
Now for the positive side.
The Z3 is overall very economical to maintain and will last easily well into the 100k mile territory without major engine issues. For some reason, the clutches and brakes last forever. Even the premium sound system is not an expensive upgrade...the speakers are ok and for $200 you can add a high quality dash unit with MP3 and USB ports which is infinitely better than ANY CD based system.
Nothing beats a two seat roadster with a manual transmission for the joy of driving and it's pretty hard to find more fun for the money than your Z3. Handling, build quality, styling, reliability...you just can't go wrong for the money. Right now in 3/11, you can find remarkable cars for sale for around 12k. That will get you one with around 60k miles and for under $15k, you can find one in the 35-50k mile range. Take care of your's and something tells me it will be worth close to what you paid for it for years to come.
Remember the much loved classic two seat roadsters from England...MG and Triumph, etc...your Z3 out performs and will give you modern day amenities and reliability for a very reasonable price.
I love my little red Z3 and it's nice to have a car I can enjoy soooo much and never have to worry about repairs I'll need a second mortgage to pay for. If that isn't what carefree, open air driving is all about, what is?"
Pros: "Excellent handling, performance and comfort. FUN"
Cons: "Plastic rear window -- wears quickly."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had this car for 7 years and 40,000 miles. In all that time I have had no mechanical failures. I am on my second set of tires and second battery which is normal for the AZ heat. I have driven this car all over through all types of weather it has never faltered. Up Ca Route 1 in the summer and Co mountains in the winter.
FUN, FUN, FUN to drive. You cannot drive this car and be in a bad mood.
I could have paid 10K more for the Porsche but why? I just don't drive over 110 mph very often. ; ) And I have more trunk space than the Boxter S.
People complain about the lack of a cup holder. Don't drink and drive!
Occasionally I think I should trade it in on a newer model convertible, but there just isn't anything comparable out there."