Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Z3 says it has a “little” electrical problem and hence has priced the car as a project. It’ll be up to you to decide if both problem and the price are little enough.

You know, The Simpsons has been on long enough that it now serves as a rich treasure trove of go-to quotes. One that feels befitting yesterday’s 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin is Homer’s description of the modern work ethic— “If you don’t like your job, you don’t strike! You just go in every day, and do it really half assed. That’s the American way.”


American and half-assed (literally, the truck has a meager 50-inch bed) aptly denoted that Ford’s major pros and cons, and at $14,500, the latter seemed to outweigh the former. That resulted in a hefty 73 percent Crack Pipe loss.

There’s generally nothing half-assed about BMW’s cars and/or trucks. Oh sure, some may be a little less emblematic of the brand’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” motto, but even those are often decent enough to get by.

One of the company’s not-quite-there efforts was the original Z3 roadster. That wasn’t so much by dint of its old school E30 3-series underpinnings but by the fact that it was eclipsed by Porsche’s contemporary and vastly better Boxster. But like I said, even BMW’s lesser efforts can be pretty engaging.


This 1997 BMW Z3 comes in Atlanta Blue Metallic—which is, as noted in its ad, just like the one in the James Bond movie, GoldenEye! Unlike the British spy, for whom everything always seems to go right, there’s something that has gone wrong on this little Z3, and the seller is doing his darnedest to minimize the issue in his ad.


Here’s how he describes the car:

With approximately 145,xxx miles on it, and due to a small electrical issue, it is no longer my daily driver, and I am ready to get into something more modern. Has a planned non op on the car. Car turns over and runs great! There is a check engine light associated with the issue.


A little later he notes that there’s a check engine light looming from the dash and that it is related to the ominous electrical issue. The car is on non-op which is California’s way of keeping a vehicle in the system when it’s unable to pass the required emissions test. With a check engine light, this Z3 is unlikely to pass.


That all makes this, in the lingo of the classifieds, a “mechanic’s special” and it should be pointed out that the electrical issue is not the only demerit this Bimmer exhibits.

Other issues with the car include a rear bumper that’s cracked and scraped, paint that’s slowing being denuded of its clear coat, and a pair of badges that have been completely stripped of their iconic black and blue coloring. The final ignominy is suffered by the headlamps which are cloudier than a politician’s memory.


On the plus side, the Style 35 wheels don’t seem to the be in bad shape, even if they too have badge issues. The top is claimed to be new—big bonus there—and the engine, which is the 138 horsepower M44 four, is said to start and run without problem. The Getrag five-speed manual behind that is likewise said to be in “fantastic” shape.


No mention is made of the interior, but the snippet we see in the pics does show some sizable splitting in both seat squabs, something else to add to this cars list of repairs.

To effect that list you’d need to first take ownership of the car, and that’s not all that hard as the seller seems to realize his daunting task—unloading a car with “issues”—and has priced the little roadster accordingly, asking just $2,100.


That’s still not chump change and even if you can afford it you’re still stuck with a car that will need some sort of repair before you can even transfer the title into your name, at least here in California. Other states may be a little more lax in their emissions testing, but in here in California, where the car is being offered, it has to pass emissions to get re-registered.


Does that, and the car’s other foibles make that $2,100 price seem like as big a wall to climb for a new owner as it is for the seller to unload the car? Or, does that make this “mechanic’s special” special enough to get a pass from you?

You decide!


Inland Empire, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Hit me up at and send me a fixed-price tip. Remember to include your Kinja handle.

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.

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