Throughout the week, BMW has been holding a media event with some of its classic cars, including all of its ‘Z’ roadsters and the original X5s. There were some of BMW’s legends, such as the Z3 M Clown Shoe, the E53 X5 4.6si, and the Z4 M Coupe. However, one of the coolest cars there was one of the slowest and least exciting to drive—the BMW Z3 Roadster 1.9.
OK, so the BMW Z3 Roadster 1.9 isn’t exactly a thrilling car. As its name suggests, it packs just 1.9-liters and four-cylinders under its long hood. That naturally aspirated four-pot only makes, on its best day, 138 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque. A modern-day entry-level Corolla would walk the Z3 1.9 without breaking a sweat. However, that’s not the beauty of the little Z3. No, the beauty of a Z3 is its easy, inexpensive fun.
The BMW Z3 was already light for a roadster but the 1.9-liter version was the lightest of them all, with a curb weight of just over 2,700 lbs. The new M4’s grille weighs that much. So it doesn’t need a ton of power to be fun. Throw in a five-speed manual gearbox, rear-wheel drive, and a convertible top, and you have the recipe for a very fun day in the sun. Maybe not in Miami, though, because the Z3 is all about twisty roads—using its light weight, nimble chassis, and rear-drive layout to have some fun—and Floria has about as many twisty roads as a drag strip.
This particular BMW Z3 Roadster 1.9 is a stunning example, too. Of course, being part of BMW’s classic car fleet, it’s in pristine condition. However, it’s a gorgeous spec, in Boston Green with a light tan interior and a tan convertible top, on absolutely killer wheels. The Z3 isn’t the prettiest Bimmer of all time but there are so many cool little touches that give it infinitely more character than anything BMW makes today. The clamshell looking hood, fender louvers, fender Roundels, tiny kidney grilles, door-mounted side mirrors, and the inset third brake light on the trunk lid are all lovely little touches that make the Z3 unique. It used to be mocked for being a hairdresser’s car (why, are hairdressers not allowed to have cool cars?) but I’d argue that it’s about as classically cool as roadsters get. You might not be able to afford a Z3 M, especially a Clown Shoe, but you can likely afford a Z3 1.9 and it will provide all of the classic cool roadster vibes you want without breaking the bank.