Not a Miata: 2001 BMW Z3


For good reason, the Mazda Miata is the best-selling roadster of all time. It’s affordable to buy and cheap to maintain. It’s reliable. Simple. Fun. There are thousands of examples out there in every possible condition, and an active enthusiast community can answer questions or assist with any fix you’d ever need. When it comes to topless two-seat motoring, the Miata is the logical, sensible choice.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/10/13/2001-bmw-z3


I have wondered about these Z3s for some time. I have owned two early Miatas and loved their simplicity but the sound of that BMW inline-6 is definitely intoxicating in a different way, especially with the top down. Even the original 1.9 Liter 4-cylinder Z3 should be fun to drive as well.

I guess the amazing thing about the Miata is that Mazda designed and built them so well at such an affordable price. BMWs of that era were wonderful when they were new but just don’t age inexpensively. These appear to have low cost of entry as used cars today, sometimes even less than an equivalent Miata… at least in terms of purchase price. I guess I’ll have to drive one and see how it compares.

I agree, though, on an older convertible I prefer a manual top. I’ve had an expensive lesson in this with a Mercedes I own. The Miata’s is still the easiest to raise and lower I’ve ever seen.


I like the look of the Z3’s compared to a Miata, but like you @steven.haas I like the reliability and affordability of the Miata.


I took the plunge recently on a 2001 Z3, 3.0, 5-speed with 36,000 miles on the odometer. I’m 6’ 1" and 250 pounds. I can’t fit comfortably in a Miata but am very comfortable in this car. The engine, torque and driving experience are fantastic. There are certainly things to watch out for with these cars (as pointed out in the article) but parts, forum support and local experts are readily available to keep your car in top shape.

Good ones are out there for not a lot of money, compared to the smiles/mile you will get in return!


I have a 2001 Z3 3.0/5M as well as NA and NB Miatas. I love the Miatas for their simplicity but the Z3 is so much more rigid. The interior is also much roomier, and the M54 inline 6 is one of the best all around, engines, ever. Typical BMW cooling system and oil leaks, and the added joy of the rear subframe/trunk wanting to tear away from the car, but super easy to fix, lots of online support and reasonable parts pricing.