Help, I Bought a Weird Old BMW Z3 Coupe

Illustration for article titled Help, I Bought a Weird Old BMW Z3 Coupe

I gave a man a check for just under five digits about four months ago and walked away with the keys to a 1999 BMW Z3 Coupe with about 115,000 miles on the clock. It’s not the balls-out fast one. It’s the other one.


Have you ever driven one of these little guys? It’s pretty rad. I’m a fan. It’s quick without being fast. My neck is in no danger of being snapped under acceleration, but it can get out of its own way. Nobody gets thrown around too much over uneven roads. Usually it’s pretty quiet, except for the assorted weird creaks and rattles from a nearly-17-year-old car.

It’s got a 2.8 liter straight-six engine in it that sometimes drops revs real low and catches itself when it’s warming up, like it stumbled walking down the sidewalk and is trying to play it off like nothing happened.


There’s a leak in the weather stripping above the driver’s side front quarter window. I found it with my knee while going through a car wash about a month ago.

Sometimes when I put it into gear, there’s a quiet little clunk from the rear end. I’m trying not to think about it too much.


A very efficient, very cost-aware German engineer decided to make the gas pedal out of plastic. The pedal is hinged on the floor and after 115,000 miles, this hinge is tearing.

The passenger side window rolls down. Slowly. Eventually. In its own time. I like to think it’s the car’s way of slowly acclimating itself to the relaxed Southern California lifestyle.


This is my favorite: once in a while, the car will just straight-up refuse to go into first gear. The internet tells me that’s because of worn shift pins in the transmission, which BMW does not publish a service guide for, and are very expensive to get fixed since they need to be replaced by a specialist. This specialist has probably trained for many years with BMW Transmission Repair Monks, atop a large German mountain, and can charge whatever he or she likes hourly as a result. Or, the internet suggests, I might just need to replace my transmission fluid. Flip a coin.

Anyway, we’re still getting to know each other. I’m going to write about our adventures together here. Cool? Cool.

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