Good Afternoon, I Have Discovered The Best BMW Z3; It Is This Nasty Off-Road Beast

It is the Jalopnik staff’s unanimous opinion that you should buy a BMW Z3. But which Z3? There are so many. I’m here to tell you! It is this Z3, a 1997 Z3 in green. Did I mention it’s a lifted Z3 on big ol’ Jeep Wrangler-sized tires? Because it is!


Up for grabs on the Philadelphia-area Craigslist for what I must say is an incredibly reasonable $2,800 is this BMW Z3 Lifted “Off-Roadster,” aka the Z3 of your dreams. The seller says it began life as an automatic Z3 with the 1.9-liter four but has been graciously given a manual and the 2.5-liter inline-six.


All of that sounds perfectly normal. What is not normal is the suspension and tire setup, which has 235/75/15 Goodyear All Terrain tires on E36-spec front and rear shocks and springs. How did the seller accommodate those bigger tires? By removing or trimming the fenders, of course.

Any issues?

Plenty. The top has no rear window. There is no muffler. The m50 runs okay but could use some basic maintenance (leaks some oil, intake boot sucks, etc. Fuel gauge and temp gauge do not work. Electric fan kicks on but it’s noisy because it hit a rock and cracked the housing. I used the 4 cylinder radiator, it seems to work fine but the cap doesn’t seal well and leaks a bit. A proper 6 cylinder setup would be ideal. Open diff, I don’t know the ratio, whatever an auto 1.9 z3 has. Weld it or throw in an lsd if you don’t want to get stuck everywhere. Title is reconstructed from a rear impact many years ago in California. Look at it, it’s a fun toy, not a nice car. Don’t plan on driving it home unless you live close. Paint is rattle canned and It’s caked in dirt and mud inside and out. Deal with it.


All of that sounds perfectly fine to me, especially for under three grand. And if that doesn’t work he’s down to trade for ‘70s European stuff, “anything BMW close to the same value,” a 4x4 ATV (buddy, are you sure you aren’t Texan?) or “anything else with wheels and an engine that might be interesting.”

Frankly, when the zombie apocalypse happens—and it will happen—this is the Z3 you will want. And it should be fun until then.


Any takers?


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About the author

Patrick George

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.