By on July 27, 2011

The BMW Z3. In my mind this model is the only convertible of the late-90’s that made the 2nd gen MX-5 seem… a bit plain. Even with a near 10k premium when it was released, this car was quite a hot commodity for those willing to pay for the privelege.

But what if we could turn back time just a bit? What if right now I could get you a forest green 1997 BMW Z3 with the 1.9L four cylinder, all the options and only 21,000 miles on it? Would you be willing to pay.. say… $10,000+? Well guess what…

Someone did just that. Even though that was about two to three grand more than what Ed would have paid, I still think it was a reasonable proposition. A third of the price for 85+% of it’s lifecycle is the exact type of bargain I would usually seek if I were an owner instead of the dealer. .

Unfortunately the guy selling it will likely want at least 12 grand for it on Ebay. Throw in the auction fee and transport… and $10,500 will be the amount he has in it even before changing the four rotting tires and giving it a tune-up.

Today’s buys included the following…

2010 Toyota Prius 50k (Frame Damage) :  $17,300

2009 Dodge Caliber SXT (92k, Auto, Alloy) $ 7,500

2003 Infiniti FX35 123k (Leather, 4WD):      $12,300

1998 Lexus LS400 165k (White, Fleet)       $ 6,600

1998 Volvo S70 (5-speed, Base, White)     $1,515

1997 Lincoln Town Car 59k (INOP, Needs Paint)            $ 700

I’ll leave it up to the Best & Brightest to figure out which one of these six I bought. I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t a home run by any means. Given that there were 95 dealers looking at the exact same vehicles at the same time, the opportunity for a grand slam today just wasn’t there.


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23 Comments on “Auction Day: A Z3 Surprise Edition...”

  • avatar

    You toy with our innermost emotions.

  • avatar

    I really do need to do a better job of convincing my mother to move ahead her “final car ever” purchase by two years. Her 2003 Toyota Corolla LE with sunroof, alloys, leather, one-owner and maintenanced almost to a fault and 85k is worth quite a bit right now. At some point, you have to figure that the used car price “bubble” is going to pop…

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    That Z3 is (IMHO) the last of the good looking BMWs. Had I the opportunity, I’d have purchased it immediately!

  • avatar

    That would be a nice price for someone to keep and use the Z3, but reselling it?

    I’m betting you bought the Volvo and the Dodge Caliber, the Lexus you keep saying is usually a good option, but on an ex-fleet with 165K and almost 12 years, $6600 seems a bit steep. The TownCar is also a possiblitiy, scuff-n-paint & a day at a mechanics might make that a good value proposition for a lease.

  • avatar

    My guess is you bought the Lexus though I can see the Volvo or Town Car depending on why it was “non-op”.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I’m going to go with the Lexus LS400 or Volvo S70 5MT. The Caliber sounds like a beaten ex-rental and ready for the crusher. Unless the Town Car looked like an easy fix…

  • avatar

    I doubt you paid that much for the Caliber with nearly 100K on it.

  • avatar

    Caliber and lexus

  • avatar

    My money is on the Volvo or the Lincoln (if the INOP was an easy fix).

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    What fleet has 1998 LS400s?

    My car is a 1998 LS400 but with significantly more miles (200k+) so I hope you bought that one. It’s a great car!

  • avatar

    Steve, I think you bought the LS400, and maybe the Lincoln on the side.

    I hope you didn’t not buy the Prius (I wouldn’t pay that much without the frame damage) and certainly not the FX35.

    A beemer with 21K miles for under 15K, is still a beemer with 21K miles, sounds like a good deal.

  • avatar

    What are the chances that the BMW Z3’s previous owner replaced the plastic tanked radiator and plastic water pump when they aged out if they didn’t bother replacing ancient tires? I think $8K would have been plenty.

  • avatar

    An INOP Panther? Big deal. You bought it. If you didn’t, we can’t be friends anymore.

  • avatar

    I bet you bought the Lincoln, and only the Lincoln.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Umm . . . I don’t know about paying $10K wholesale for a 4-cylinder Z3, even with 21K miles. I’m just not sure it’s that desirable a car with that engine in it. A Z3 is not a Miata, and the 1.9 is, IIRC, slower than a Miata. The higher-powered 6-cylinder versions (2.5, 2.8, 3.0) offer sufficiently more go-power to compensate for not being as “flickable” as the Miata.

    I do admit that the two-tone interior looks nicer than the all-black interior of my ’01 3.0, especially the (fake?) wood on the lower portion of the dash board.

    And, for my taste, the more muscular flared rear wheel arches to accommodate the staggered wheel setup in the newer 6-cylinder cars move the car further away from “chick car” status, too.

    There’s also the question of how much damage the mere passage of time does to a car, too. The highest-rated independent shop in metro DC quoted me $2,000 for a complete replacement of all of the cooling system bits that are problematic on this engine: radiator, expansion tank, water pump, associated belts, hoses and thermostat.

    • 0 avatar

      The shop that quoted you that price is rather full of themselves. I did my M3 cooling system (radiator, water pump, thermostat housing, thermostat, expansion tank, all belts, even a belt idler pulley) in about 6 hours. A pro could do it in 4. Parts cost about $350, including metal impeller pump.

      Unless something is very different on 4-cylinder Z3, I would not bother going to that shop again.

  • avatar

    Prices are crazy high unless your a state away from costal waters.

    I’m definitely going with the Volvo.

  • avatar

    The LS seems like an easy rent or lease candidate. The base S70 with a stick? Not so much, especially if it has cloth.

  • avatar

    Prius? Not with frame damage, there’s no telling what quirks might be there.
    Caliber? Not for that money. Same for the FX35.
    S70? A base model Volvo with manual; you didn’t even stick around long enough to record the mileage.
    LS400? Maybe. It would depend on the condition of the paint and the leather.
    Town Car? Again, maybe. What’s the problem, and is the interior clean enough to justify dropping the coin on the paint?

    My take – the Town Car due to the low, low miles. If the repair is cheap, you can sell the car to one of the livery companies stocking up on them. If not, you can sell the car as-is for the parts or part it out yourself.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    You bought the Town Car (or maybe the Lexus…)

    Wish I had bought the Town Car, I’m in a state with no emissions testing (except the city of Albuquerque) and I could have dropped a built 302 or 351 into that Lincoln no problem. That’s one of my favorite Town Car body styles.

  • avatar

    +1 on Town Car. You can salvage the parts and make more than $700.

  • avatar

    S70 for sure, possibly a Lincoln.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Bimmer nailed it.

    I bought the Volvo. I have a very soft spot for Volvos from the mid to late 1990’s. The pre-Ford Volvos along with Subarus and Saabs made up about a third of my sales when I started out.

    The Lincoln I got outbid by a good friend of mine. He has a ‘machine’ of four lots and about 20 people to support. Thankfully my obligations aren’t nearly that much.

    We both happened to have spare engines for the Lincoln. It had sat for about 5 years although the interior was in fairly decent shape. Black on black with 1997 being the last year of that generation. I think he ended up with a better buy but that’s how the business goes sometimes.

    I also ended up getting a 1996 Dodge Intrepid ES with 28k for $400. For some reason the ‘auction’ had a longer list of inops than usual and some were running before they got to the sale. The Intrepid will more than likely need a new engine. I’ll find out by the end of the week.

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