The BMW Z3 went against all the styling principles of the 90s. It stepped away from formulaic, number crunched boredom, it left the ‘let’s do what everyone else is doing’ approach, and it created something the market had not seen for 40 years! A car with true, sleek, sexy style!
The typical modern car is, quite frankly, boring. It’s all powerful engines, mass componentry, a socket for your IPod and cell phone charger, a 10000 CD changer in the boot connected to a fancy stereo in the car, cruise control, outside temperature gauges, and then there is the mass componentry built into the steering wheel.
The modern car is all glitz and glitter, and really none of the motoring experience we used to dive headlong into. We are, by all the gadgetry, fuel injections, electronic sensors and components, made distant from our vehicle. The relationship we once upon a time had with our cars has gone out the window. We don’t know them, we don’t understand them, we dare not tamper with them, and we are a tiny bit afraid of them.
Slip into the Z3 and you will find it deliciously spartan (funny really given that it was built in the Spartanburg plant). It feels like a step back in time, before the gadgetry silliness took over the industry. You can sit in this car and feel at peace, and not gaze around in fear at the componentry. It’s a place you don’t want to leave—unless you are six feet tall or of a large body build, in which case you may not like the close fit. There can surely be no denying that this car is a modern classic, destined to still be a classic in thirty years.
It is obvious, upon looking at any picture of the BMW 507 from the 1950s, that it was the glorious, virile 507 sperm that spawned the Z3. The shape of the 507 looks like a slow moving ocean swell. It says, don’t rush, walk slowly, run your fingers along my sides. That beauty, that simple strength of classic design screams from every particle of the Z3. Why go back and use a blast from the past? Because they could! Because they did not throw everything out the window bar the number-crunchers. They went back to the days when style was everything, they looked at what they had done, they called upon their history, they took the very best of the most very beautiful, and they breathed life into it again.
Life itself is a process of experiences and learning. We gain wisdom and knowledge along the journey, but never once do we throw away everything we have gained and attempt to begin anew. That is why we must surely have the utmost respect for the Z3. She is a part of the journey, and we are, through her, allowed to personally share in the history of BMW, and maybe even touch palms across time and generation, and appreciate our parents and grandparents who may have owned a 507—not a great likelihood since only 252 were built…but a romantic notion nonetheless!
For a people, tired of the race of modernity, of the selfishness of suburban living, of the spiritual emptiness of mundane life…here is a car that screams ‘break out’, that shouts ‘joy’, that whispers ‘rebellion.’
The modern sports cars had, prior to the Z3’s birth, wandered aimlessly onto the market, but nothing ‘moved’ the nation. The cars were boring, nondescript, dull, they were sports cars without glamour—even the reintroduction of the MG whimpered and died.
The Z3 brought style back to an otherwise ‘beige’ market. It screamed sex appeal. Admittedly, the 1.9 litre model was not exactly a race car, and to some this was an issue, but with a fine of $80 for doing 63 kph in a 50 kph zone, is speed really a factor? The 1.9 litre Z3 is powerful enough to effortlessly fly through the hills to Diamond Harbour. And, parked outside a café—while driver and passenger indulge in a latte—the top down Z3 draws stares of appreciation and an occasional chat with a fan. For people who demand a more powerful engine there is the 2.2 litre option and the later 2.8 and 3 litre options.
The Z3 was produced between 1996 and 2002, and most of us could not afford a brand new one. But, the price for a used Z3 is now in the realms of the average mortal – to the point where even a freelance writer can afford one.
In every lifetime we will have a string of relationships, and our vehicular relationships are no less important than our human relationships. They need loving and nurturing, tender care and lavishness. We get back from our relationships commensurately with how we invest in them. We get back from our car commensurately with how we tend to them. The Z3 is a long term relationship, a marriage, not a brief torrid affair.
The Z3 is not just a car you own, it is not just a car you drive. It is a car you love.