Automobile

Buying and owning a James Bond car is not cheap … except with a BMW Z3

Owning a James Bond car is usually a very expensive proposition. Whether it’s finding the immense amount of cash needed to buy a BMW Z8 or (gulp) an Aston Martin DB5, or the immense amount of cash needed to maintain a Lotus Esprit, it is not a cheap venture. Usually, your best bet is Corgi. 

There is at least one exception: the BMW Z3 from “GoldenEye.” While it’s unquestionably one of the least distinguished James Bond cars (it was barely seen and did none of the cool stuff on screen that Q said it did), for those of a certain age, that really didn’t matter. It was just as cool and memorable as other Bond cars. It was even known to ignite an interest in both BMWs and James Bond movies for a certain Autoblog senior editor. That would be me, and I can attest that thanks to the Z3, it’s possible to own and maintain a James Bond car without breaking the bank. The Z3 is a pretty simple car by BMW standards, with lots of mass-produced 3 Series parts-bin items underneath that classic bodywork. I admittedly drive mine very little, but that’s been just enough to keep everything running OK in conjunction with maintenance as required.

However, while my 1998 pictured below has the obligatory “GoldenEyecolor combo of Atlanta Blue paint and beige interior, it’s not the same specification. It’s two years older, for one, meaning it has the roll hoops. It has the 2.8-liter inline-six rather than the 138-horsepower four-banger, which not only means it has a vastly superior engine, it also looks different: bigger lower air dam, wider rear fenders and two exhaust ports. The windshield surround is also body-colored rather than black. Effectively, the Bond Z3 is not an especially desirable one. 

Buying and owning a James Bond car is not cheap ... except with a BMW Z3

Still, if you’re looking for THE “GoldenEye” Z3, now’s the time to get one thanks to the one pictured currently up for auction on Cars and Bids. It is No. 18 or 100 James Bond special edition models sold through the Neiman Marcus catalog. It also has only 18,200 miles on it, which is the rare Z3 that puts my car’s 48,000 miles to shame, and is definitely in amazing condition (I’d bet good money the plastic rear window has been replaced). One of these was sold on Bring a Trailer last year and fetched a fitting $22,007 (kudos to that bidder’s sense of humor). 

But here’s the curious thing about the official James Bond edition Z3: It’s not actually like the car in the movie. That one, pictured above, was pretty much just a basic Z3. The James Bond edition, by contrast, has a chrome package applied to the windshield surround, door handles and various interior bits. The wheels are also upgraded, and the interior has a wood trim package Pierce Brosnan and Izabella Scorupco did not get to enjoy. So basically, the James Bond Edition Z3 is less like the Z3 in a James Bond movie than one that wasn’t. 

All of that said, it’s still a James Bond edition, one of only 100 made, and has a minuscule number of miles. It’s even in Oregon, which is always good news for vehicle maintenance. Again, believe me, I know. 

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