The 007 fans at a New York cinema where the long-awaited new James Bond film "GoldenEye" premiered in November 1995 were the first to see another actor of German origin alongside the new leading man Pierce Brosnan. It was the BMW Z3 Roadster and served as the new James Bond's ride in the film. A few weeks later and six years after Mazda relaunched the roadster with the MX5, BMW then presented its two-seat roadster with a four-cylinder engine to the rest of the world at the Detroit Motor Show. It's been said that you don't get into the Z3 Roadster, you put it on. It's much more like the character of a Mazda MX5 than an SLK or Boxter, and delights with snappy steering and a lively rear end. Deep down, the Z3 Roadster is a '90s E36-series 3. It shared the semi-trailing arm rear axle with the E36 Compact. Initially, the Z3 Roadster was not as carefully assembled as regular customers were accustomed to from BMW products. But after BMW even brought some vehicles to the Regensburg plant for rework and thus got the quality problems under control, hundreds of thousands of BMW Z3 Roadsters rolled off the assembly line just 2 years after the start of production. In the meantime, it has reached its prime youngtimer age. The offer is indeed large, but interspersed with tinker shops, down-rocked models or disfigured tuning victims. That's why it's worth looking out for well-maintained models, despite the good supply of parts. There are still checkbook-maintained original Z3 Roadster models at a low price, whose value development can turn into the opposite and develop into a value investment.

Body check when buying the youngtimer convertible BMW Z3 Roadster

BMW Z3 Roadster

The Z3 Roadster has no problems with rust. The body is fully galvanized. However, it can still happen 20 years after the end of production that one encounters corroded sheet metal parts. Here you should pay attention to the trunk lid around the lock, sill ends, door edges, cavities behind the inner wheel housings and around the battery. Condensation on the inside of the side panels can lead to blistering on the lower edge of the side panels. Rust can also be found between the wheel arch and tail lights. The engine hood can be affected by corrosion above the front wheels. The ALUGUSS mounts of the exterior mirrors are also susceptible. If these rust, they can break off. Provided that no touchdowns have taken place, the floor panel is rarely affected by corrosion. If chirping noises occur at higher speeds, these can come from a leaking windshield. The soft top is durable, but may show pressure and chafing, or it may tear at the rear window piping or the rear window itself. The seals between the door, soft top and windshield frame may have shrunk, which would cause water intrusion. On the headlights, the cover lenses often go blind, and on later models, the plastic diffuser lenses sometimes burn. For the Z3 Roadster with six-cylinder engine, it is recommended to empty the trunk completely. If the car has been driven at high speeds, high torsional forces may have caused the floor to crack at the transition to the left wheel arch.

Interior check when buying the youngtimer convertible BMW Z3 Roadster

The interior is no design firework, but it is timeless and visually appealing. Door handles and openers may be broken here. Seat damper elements may have disintegrated, resulting in wobbly seats. Guides and window regulators may become sluggish, resulting in torn retaining plates inside the door. If you want to have it absolutely original, you should pay attention to the CD drive of the series radios, which often has a limited life span. The engine hood sensor also tends to cause problems and then triggers a false alarm. If the third brake light does not work, it may be due to a broken cable at the rear corner of the tailgate.

BMW Z3 Interior


The brakes are effective, stable and perform inconspicuously. However, loose solder joints in the ABS control unit can lead to failure. In the chassis, the suspension joints are also subject to normal wear under normal driving conditions. The suspension joints and bushings of the control arms can also be replaced individually. If the rear end steers when driving, this is a sign of defective spherical bearings. Oily tie rods and gurgling in the bellows indicate a leaking steering gear. Clacking during load changes indicates play in the drive train.


The four- and six-cylinder engines of the Z3 Roadster control their camshafts via durable timing chains, and all engines are good for 300,000 kilometers with sensible driving and maintenance. However, the high-revving six-cylinder engine in the M3 is said to last only half as long. The hose connectors and the thermostat housing should be checked on all engines. These are made of plastic and can become brittle. This can also be the case with the plastic radiator shells. On the water pumps, the impellers come loose from the axles. A short rattling noise after a cold start is normal and comes from the hydraulic tappets installed in all engines. If the noise persists, tappets may be defective or clogged due to old oil. If it rattles at the front of the head of the six-cylinder engine, it could be the VANOS unit of the camshafts. This could also be detected by sudden fluctuations in engine speed and increased consumption.


Transparent pixel