Saying goodbye to the Unicorn Cat was not easy or fun, but I needed to free up some of the money invested in it for the next phase of my Harper build (more on that car to come) and the Jag was essentially turning into a bit of a garage queen, which is never a good thing for the car. Cars are meant to be driven and sitting in a garage makes them break before their time!
An interesting thing happened after selling the Jag though. I discovered that I don’t actually NEED a car that badly. I have the beast (Isuzu KB320V6) as a daily, and if we’re going anywhere there’s no reason we can’t take my wife’s car. So effectively I could buy anything I wanted, since it didn’t need to be practical or sensible – as long as I didn’t stand to loose too much money on it – and of course I could get it for CHEAP!
So what do you buy when you can have any kind of car you want? Obviously you buy a 2-seater roadster! And if you’re going to buy a 2 seater roadster on the cheap, why look any further than the car that rescued and defined the segment – the Mazda MX5. Well therein actually lies the problem; EVERYONE has that thought, which means demand for MX5’s is always there and it helps to keep values higher than you might expect for decent examples. So high in fact that I noticed for the same money you could buy an E85 BMW Z4, with way more power and toys than the MX5 could ever dream of.
Thus the search started, and almost immediately ended! You see, I am a very particular kind of driver. I believe automatic transmissions in sportscars should be a crime punishable by law. I also believe that if you’re going to buy a sportscar, there’s no point in buying a 2.0l if the chassis was originally designed for a 3.0l. You’ll never be able to fully exploit what the chassis can offer, if you only have half the engine it was built for. Sadly though, this meant that even though I was now dead-set on getting a 3.0i Z4 with a proper 3-pedal 6-speed, I soon discovered they are EXTREMELY rare!
To put it another way, on one particular day I was searching on Autotrader’s website. I entered a search for a BMW Z4 and put in my budget to find 19 cars listed. Select Engine capacity of 3.0l and there was only 7 left. Select manual transmission and results drop to 1 single car… and it’s a coupe. Add to this mix the fact that I really wanted the roadster and I obviously wanted a well looked after car with a full service history and less than 120-150k on the clock and you can start to see how hard it was to find my car.
Weeks and months passed, I went to look at one or two cars that I had found. One had an unrealistic seller who simply demanded way too much money for his car (with 140k on the clock), the next one was reasonable, but the car was not in great condition cosmetically (110k on the clock). I found one in Jo’burg and quickly discovered that what the owner described as a ‘full service history’ was actually an invoice for major work being done on the engine after it had blown a head gasket and overheated really badly (120k on the clock)! I even sent my poor cousin chasing sellers in Pretoria, Johannesburg and even Soweto trying to find MY car, but they were all either butchered, banged up and patched up or they had millions of miles on the clocks.
Eventually after 6 months of searching and a real feeling of “does the car I’m looking for even exist” coming over me several times – I was going through my morning routine of checking Gumtree and Autotrader for Z4’s when I saw a new ad pop up. 2004 Z4 BMW 3.0i Manual – full service history – immaculate condition – 46’000km and the price was around the same mark as most of the cars I had seen with more than 100k on the clock. I had become so despondent that I was convinced there had to be a digit missing from that mileage or the price had been listed incorrectly.
I even waited until I got to work before calling the dealer, thinking they would spot their mistake and correct it by the time I got to the office. But no mistake had been made. Given that there was apparently a number of other people who had already tried to make appointments to see the car I knew I had to be quick if I wanted to snap up this needle in a haystack. I spent around 20 minutes on the phone with the dealer and had him send me pictures of the car and after he told me everything I wanted to hear I had to make the call there and then. You see I was still in Cape Town and the car was in Johannesburg at Fury Ford in Midrand – about 1400km away.
Eventually I had to look at the pictures and agree that the car was in excellent condition (from what I could see), take the dealers word for it and trust that if anything was not as described I could lean on the Consumer Protection Act and return to sender – worst case scenario I lose the shipping costs of sending the car back and forth.
So I did it. For the second time in my life I bought a used sportscar, completely sight unseen… based only on a salesman’s word and the few pictures shown in this article…. (the pics shown here are the actual photos I had been sent by the dealer – this was ALL I had seen of the car before it got delivered!)
In my next post I will take you through exactly what I got when the car actually arrived in Strand so make sure you subscribe to get the latest updates!
A huge thank you and shout-out has to go to Fury Ford in Midrand for their truly outstanding service and efficiency in setting up the deal “remotely”. Kayle Smith went out of his way to make sure I had all the info I wanted (and I wanted EVERYTHING) and made the deal SO easy even though we’ve never met and did everything over the phone and via e-mail. The car was pretty much as described and now, a few months in, I still haven’t found any major gremlins. If you’re in or near Midrand and in the market for a Ford, I would very much recommend looking these guys up!