Where Your Author Makes a Quick Purchase (and a Medium Length Trip)

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
where your author makes a quick purchase and a medium length trip

Picture it. Last Tuesday, late afternoon. Checking the used convertible listings like I’d been doing for some time, it seemed the right car would never materialize. But on that particular afternoon, I happened to check Facebook Marketplace, a terrible place to search listings which I generally avoided. The default 249-mile search radius showed me a particular convertible I hadn’t seen listed before. Turned out it was the one.

(Note: All photos presented here are prior to any car cleaning, so be kind.)

As mentioned in my last article, I’d narrowed the potential convertibles down to just four: Two from Lexus (IS C, SC), one Mercedes (SLK), and a new addition to the list from BMW, the Z4. Of those, I liked the latter two the best. The Z4 was added long after the fact because of One Simple Reason: I forgot it existed. 

A Z4 was the listing in question, located at a small import dealer in Nashville. The pictures looked great, and it was in a color scheme (Alpine White and Beige) that I’ve purchased several times previously. The CarFax report was clean, and crucially the car was a life-long southern California resident (Escondido area) and had never seen harsh weather. 

I filled out the information form on the dealer’s website with two or three questions about the condition, the tires, and whether it was a non-smoker vehicle. And though I didn’t figure I’d hear back until Wednesday since it was already after 4:30 Nashville time, the dealership’s owner called me about 20 minutes later. He had answers to my questions ready: The car was very clean, it wore Bridgestone run-flats, and was a non-smoker car.

The dealership specialized in European cars, and had several convertibles in stock, only one a Z4. All cars were stored in their indoor showroom, and they didn’t negotiate on price. In exchange the prices were competitive, and there were no fees of any kind. I thanked the owner for his time, and told him I’d look at a few things and get back to him. 

In the following hour or so of consideration, it occurred to me just how long I had been looking for a convertible. For those of you new to the story, this tale began in fall of 2021. I’d come across Z4s here and there, but often with a black interior, black paint, or some other combination of issues (like a previous crash in the history). From what I’d read the Z4 drove excellently, and I liked its styling and interior better than any of the other cars on the potential list. 

The asking price was $21,990, for a 2010 with only 53,800 miles on the clock. Though it had been debadged at the rear and on the sides, the listing detail showed it was an sDrive 30i. That was the base model in 2010; the only other trim that year was the sDrive 35i. The base model used a 255-horse inline-six and six-speed manual or automatic, while the 35i added twin turbos to the engine for an even 300 horsepower, paired to a seven-speed dual clutch auto. 

The white Z4 was heavy on optional extras like the six-speed automatic, leather seats, the Premium Package, Premium Sound Package, and M Sport Package, as well as heated seats, proximity key, ash wood trim, and a ski pass-through. The only missing item was iDrive/nav. Of interest on the list was the M package, because it added the nicer sports seats with extendable lumbar, an adaptive M suspension with three modes, and better-looking 18-inch alloys. 

As it sounded more and more like just what I was seeking, I called the dealer back and put down a deposit to hold the car. From there the rest was trip planning. It would take a couple of days for me to get down to Nashville, and Saturday seemed the most realistic timeline. I booked a morning flight on Saturday from Cincinnati (CVG) to Nashville (BNA), via a layover in Charlotte (CLT) ($238.70).

Saturday arrived, and sometime that morning Charlotte became one of my least favorite domestic airports. I was on the ground in Nashville shortly after noon, and one overpriced Lyft ride later (2017 ES Hybrid, smooth) I was at the dealership. The owner was at the office when I arrived, and let me know all the paperwork was ready. He indicated I could take as much time as I wanted, and left me to my inspections in the showroom - no salesman stuff happening. 

The first thing I noticed seeing the Z4 in the cave-like indoor warehouse was a dent that didn’t show up on the pictures. Located very low on the fender behind the front passenger wheel, it’s not really photographable (or I’d show you). Though that was a slight disappointment, I reminded myself that in front of me was a 13-year-old car. 

The rest of the body was free of dents or scratches, with not even a rock chip on the hood. All the convertibles at the dealer were parked inside with their roofs down, which made sure the interior had bits of debris and dust in it. I guess it looks more impressive with all the convertibles presented but I’d rather have a cleaner interior.

I’m critical of visible interior wear, it’s one of those things that really grates. The Z4 showed well, with nearly zero wear to the seats. Credit that hard leather BMW uses! Some dirt was present throughout, but other than that all buttons and switches had all of their finish. No smells inside, and no evidence of water gathering anywhere.

The engine fired right up and sounded great, but smelled a bit rich at the start. I put that down to how it had been sitting for quite some time - around a month give or take. I put the roof up indoors to make sure there were no hesitations or noises. All good there too. I told the owner about the dent I saw, and he claimed he’d not seen it.

A few minutes later I was off on a test drive on my own. Brakes and steering felt good, the engine was responsive, and oh man was the ride firm. Short and sporty suspension setup, run-flat tires, and years behind the wheel of the GS made for quite a surprise. The transmission shifted quickly and smoothly, and was better than I expected for a six-speed auto from the late 2000s era.

It was time to make a decision, which I finalized on the way back to the dealer. This was the one for me. I noticed two other issues before writing the check: The aerial antenna was MIA, and there was no owner’s manual in the glove box. The sales assistant who finalized my paperwork assured me they’d order both items and mail them to me. Stay tuned for a conclusion on those two. 

With two remotes in hand, I took a short 15-minute drive to the Lane Auto Museum, a place I’d wanted to see for several years. I highly recommend a visit and the additional basement tour. It just so happened I got there about five minutes before the tour started. Super interesting car nerd stuff down there. 

The second part of the trip was a night in a hotel just north of town, and then a drive back to the Cincinnati area on Sunday morning. I’m saving my driving impressions for another article, which will have the Z4 presented in a cleaned-up state. To close us out, I can report that after a 274.3-mile journey with an average speed of 75.8 miles per hour, the Z4 returned an indicated 30.1 miles per gallon. And I finally found the right convertible just in time for spring, happy days.

[Images © Corey Lewis / The Truth About Cars, Google Screenshot, Monroney, CarFax Screenshot]

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2 of 55 comments
  • Prabirmehta Prabirmehta on Feb 27, 2023

    I used to own a 2005 Z4 - dark blue with beige interior. Loved it and feel like buying another one all the time.

  • Olddavid Olddavid 2 days ago

    Last year while perusing Craigslist I found a 26 year old Jaguar convertible that had sat for seven years. In Alberta, Canada. The worm had infected several areas, but most were of the cosmetic variety, with all suspension mounting points and motor and third member mounts solid. The price was about the cost of a good set of tires, and with only 110k kilometers (about 70k miles), I jumped the shark. I haven't owned a ragtop since 1982 and decided the time is now. That it started right up had within 5% of new compression with an untorn leather upholstery and all working accessories made me feel like I should have at least worn a mask and brandished a weapon at delivery. These are not known for their trouble-free longevity so I guess time will tell. For now, I howl at the moon when driving around and feel like I am 25 again. Cheap at twice the price.

  • Probert Wow - so many digital renders - Ford, Stellantis. - whose next!!! They're really bringing it on....
  • Zerocred So many great drives:Dalton Hwy from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle.Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham WA to Skagway AK. it was a multi-day ferry ride so I didn’t actually drive it, but I did take my truck.Icefields Parkway from Jasper AB to Lake Louise AB, CA.I-70 and Hwy 50 from Denver to Sacramento.Hwy 395 on the east side of the Sierras.
  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.