Bond on a Budget: The 1996 BMW Z3
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Bond on a Budget: The 1996 BMW Z3

Bond on a Budget: The 1996 BMW Z3

One of the most affordable modern Bond cars is the 1996 BMW Z3. I recently wrote about the unveiling of the latest Z4 concept which premiered a couple of weeks ago during the Pebble Beach festivities, but the concept really got started 22 years ago with the James Bond film Goldeneye.

The Z3 was the first of three BMWs featured in three James Bond films as part of a marketing campaign. While this proved to be very successful for the Z3, it wasn’t really embraced by some of the more hardcore fans. This was the first non-British car 007 had driven and not only that, its actual screen time is somewhat disappointing compared with other Bond vehicles. That didn’t stop BMW from selling 15,000 roadsters before the car was officially introduced. Its appearance in Goldeneye is the reason why.

While the car that appears in the film is a pre-production model, the production version isn’t much different. You just needed to order one in Atlanta Blue Metallic with tan interior and you had the basic look covered. The engine was a 1.9 liter 4 cylinder that put out 138 hp. Apparently speed was not part of the equation. Good thing Bond didn’t get involved in a chase while driving it. The more powerful engine would come much later, but the 1.9 liter was the only engine offered in 1996.

The famous Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog offered a “007 edition” of the Z3. Production was initially limited to just 20 examples but was later increased to 100 due to demand. It’s interesting to see the extra touches, like the 007 logo floor mats and dash plaque. Of course the colors were screen accurate, as well. The wheels, however, were not. The original price was around $35,000, which to be honest is probably one of the least expensive vehicles offered from the Neiman Marcus catalog. The Bonhams auction house had one of the special editions for sale a few years ago and it went for about $24,000.

So what’s happening with 1996 Z3 values today? You may be surprised to know there really aren’t very many early examples for sale. Let alone Atlanta Blue with tan interior. The best one I could find was an Atlanta Blue exterior and black interior at Patterson Kia in Arlington, Texas. The car has roughly 41,000 miles and they are asking $8,800.

If you don’t care about the exterior color the choices open up quite a bit more. Of course BMW built more examples in the later years as the year 2000 approached. It’s really all about personal preference. Keep in mind if you are sold on having an example that looks just like the one in Goldeneye, be prepared to search for a long while. When you do find it, I bet the price will be more than reasonable. In fact it’s very likely you can find one under $10,000 with low miles. Whatever you do, don’t touch any of the buttons – even if you plan to go “bombing” around in it.

Don’t forget to check out my Phil’s Morning Drive: Bond In Motion special episode:


Photos/Video Courtesy: United Artists/EON Productions/’s Morning Drive

Phil’s Morning Drive, a web series about cars, is now streaming on Amazon and YouTube. You can also follow this blog on Apple News

Bonhams Auction:

Patterson Kia Listing:


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