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Our BMW Z3


our bmw z3

On Monday, I wrote about how we save money by sharing one car. We are driving a Mazda 5 today, but previously we had a BMW Z3! What a change huh?

I got the ’98 BMW Z3 used in 2001. Mrs. RB40 was out of town visiting family and I wanted to surprise her. Imagine the look on her face when I drove up to the airport with the top down. πŸ™‚ She was speechless and was quite cheesed off at me for making this decision without her. Eventually we came to love our Z3 after the rocky start. We never named it though; I guess we are not big on naming things.

We drove the car for almost 10 years and we loved putting the top down in the Summer. I like to say there are two kind of people in this world — convertible people and non convertible people. It feels great to drive around in a convertible, no matter what the inconveniences. Ahhh, got my shades on with the wind in my hair. What could be better?

The Z3 was good to us in general. The last few years of ownership was painful to our wallet because of repairs and maintenance. Every time I took it in for a repair, the shop always found one or two extra issues. In 2010, the car felt a bit weird and stalled in the middle of a busy intersection. I looked down at the temperature gauge and saw the needle pegged on red.Β  It turned out that the header cracked and the coolant leaked into the engine. Yikes! We towed it to the dealer and got an estimate of $5,000 to $8,000. At that point, I figured the car was not worth keeping because the Blue Book value was around $6,000 and we needed a bigger vehicle anyway. Our little guy was on the way.

I put a listing up on craigslist (a great place to sell your stuff BTW) for $3,000 with the above picture and got a bunch of emails. Of course, I wrote down all the issues I knew about and I thought it would be a great project for car enthusiasts. I had sold a bunch of things on craigslist before so I said, “The first one to put money in my hands gets the car.” After work, I took the train over to the dealer and one guy was there with an envelope with $3,000. SOLD!!! At least I made a bit of extra money with Craigslist instead of sending it to the junkyard.

I hope he was able to fix the car and is enjoying it this summer. I miss our Z3, but I like our Mazda 5 a lot too. It has many more convenient features and it’s so much quieter. Our next convertible will have to have a hard top. I’m thinking a Mercedes SL or something along that line. hahaha. πŸ˜€

mercedes sl

Well, I’m not prepared to pay 6 figures for a car so maybe the Mazda Miata with a hardtop convertible will have to do. πŸ™‚ (It’ll be 18 more years until the little guy will be out of the house so we have got quite a while to go.)

After we sold the Z3, we used Zipcar for about 3 months. It was doable, but I like to be able to run errands at a leisurely pace, so we purchased the Mazda 5. With Zipcar, we always had to watch the clock so we could return it on time. It’s nice to know we could be carless if we had to though. Have you been carless? Can you handle it?


Mercedes photo credit – flickr robtm2010

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 35 comments… add one }
  • cashflowmantra June 15, 2011, 2:19 am

    Don’t know that I could do without a car. Never had to. Suppose that I could figure it out since humans are fairly adaptable. I like our Miata and have been driving it to work to put some miles on it and save them from the mini-van.

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 9:18 am

      All right, a fellow convertible person! I think the Miata would be a blast. Maybe when our little guy go off to college, we can get one. πŸ˜€

  • LifeAndMyFinances June 15, 2011, 3:55 am

    Mmmm! You got my attention with that Mercedes! That is one beautiful car and I would love to own one someday, but that is in the distant future. First, my wife and I will be focusing on paying off our house and having some fun traveling! πŸ™‚

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 9:19 am

      That’s my dream car and if we ever win the lotto…. That car cost more than your house though! It’s a bit unreasonable.

  • NoTrustFund June 15, 2011, 4:41 am

    I was carless up until the age of 29, but it was always in cities with some sort of subway. I loved not having a car, but had to get one when I moved to my current city and had a big commute to work.

    My commute has gotten better and could maybe get by without a car now if I was still childless. I also have dreams of driving a little two seater but since they don’t accommodate car seats I’m out of luck for awhile. Right now I’m just trying to avoid a mini van!

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 9:20 am

      Yeah, kids have that effect our lives. A mini van is great, resistance is futile. πŸ™‚

  • Moneycone June 15, 2011, 4:57 am

    Never owned a convertible, but having been on one, have to say, nothing beats cruising in a convertible on a sunny day!

    BTW, I’m becoming a big fan of your photos!

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 9:22 am

      Thanks! I want to take so photography class to improve my skill. That’s on my list of things to do when I quit my day job. A good camera goes a long way toward taking good pictures though.

  • No Debt MBA June 15, 2011, 7:06 am

    I also hate the watching the clock feeling of ZipCar usage. I’d rather keep my fuel efficient beater car until it dies and replace it with something similar.

    As for being car-less, I never want to have to drive my car again on a daily basis, but I still like keeping it around for road trips, weekends, and the like. There may come a day when ZipCar is cheaper than keeping my own car, but I really enjoy the flexibility of having my own and the expenses are low enough with high deductible, liability only car insurance and filling gas up every other month that for now I can justify it.

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 9:24 am

      Every other month! That’s great. I thought we were doing well with once a month. πŸ™‚ Zipcar is really great for city living. I think they have a program to rent the car overnight for $25 or something like that now. That’s not too bad.

  • Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter June 15, 2011, 10:16 am

    You got my attention with those pics too. Great job. I have gone carless in these sense of walking to and from work every day.

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 4:24 pm

      I only took the BMW picture. The Mercedes SL came from Flickr. It’s great that you can walk to work. That will be my criteria for the next job. :b

  • krantcents June 15, 2011, 11:34 am

    It would be very hard in southern California to be carless! My daughter who lives in San Francisco was without a car for nearly 7 years. She used City Carshare (similar to Zipcar). I think as I get older (retired), I would rather give up the car for public transportation. The only exception would be for grocery shopping.

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 4:26 pm

      That’s true about Southern CA. Everything is so spread out. When we use Zipcar, it was mostly for grocery shopping.

  • Lakhyajyoti June 15, 2011, 11:54 am

    Mercedes is one of my favourite car.Hope I’ll buy one someday.Now I have a Hyundai Verna.

  • Barb Friedberg June 15, 2011, 12:34 pm

    I am so impressed that you get by with one car. I have thought about it a lot, but the only time we share a car is when one is in the shop. Of course both cars are getting a bit long in teeth πŸ™‚

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 4:27 pm

      You can try it when one car broke down. πŸ™‚ It will be a tough adjustment at first, but who knows. Maybe you’ll like the saving so much and stick with it.

  • Jeff @ Sustainable life blog June 15, 2011, 12:38 pm

    That is some car – looks fun to drive. I’ve done the no car thing, and I really liked it. The only difficult thing I found about it was making large grocery runs. You had to plan well to take all that stuff back on a bike. Like you had to get flour one week, sugar the next otherwize you’d be carrying 10lbs with just 2 items!

    • retirebyforty June 15, 2011, 4:28 pm

      Yeah, grocery run seems to be the obstacle. We have a Safeway nearby so it was not a huge deal.

  • Money Reasons June 15, 2011, 6:34 pm

    I know what I’m about to type isn’t related to your blog post, but wow, what a cool looking paint job on that mercedes. It looks like a superhero or “James Bond” type car.

  • Dividend Mantra June 15, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Cool pics and glad to hear you got some value out of the Z3. I just went carless about a month ago and so far…so good. I think living without a car is going to make a dramatic difference on my finances going forward. I’m 2 miles from the bus stop…so it’s a 10 minute bike ride to/from the stop. It’s also a 30 minute ride to/from work from said bus stop. Overall, it isn’t perfect, but it is working out great and saving me $500/mo. The next step is moving downtown near the bus depot. Then we’ll be cooking with fire. Good luck with the Miata!

    • retirebyforty June 16, 2011, 9:14 am

      Going carless is tough! You are saving so much money though. It’s really cool that you can function with just a bike and public transit. We live in Portland and have great public transportation too so we could do it if we really need to. I think we need a car now that we have a kid though. The hospital is 30 minutes a way by public transit, but it’s only a 10 minutes drive….

  • youngandthrifty June 16, 2011, 12:30 am

    Nice car! What a steal for $3000! Glad to hear you got 10 good years out of it. LOL I would be cheesed off if I was Mrs RB40 and you bought a Z3 without discussion too! (Men!! πŸ™‚ )

    I like Mazda’s (zoom zoom) and they are so functional and pretty good on gas.

    I have a Honda Civic and have CONTEMPLATED the idea of going carless, but I don’t think I could handle it. There isn’t a Zip Car station near my place and the bus costs quite a bit too (though much much cheaper than car insurance and gas and maintenance).

    • retirebyforty June 16, 2011, 9:15 am

      Haha, I learned my lesson and tried not to surprise her anymore. She doesn’t like surprises.
      Maybe you can try going carless when it’s time to change car. Do you have public transportation nearby?

  • Jason June 16, 2011, 6:28 am

    Never been carless, but I only use it to drive to work and school. I walk to bars, the store, downtown (Denver), etc. If I lived in a suburban neighborhood, there’s no way I’d survive without a car.

  • Forest June 16, 2011, 6:49 am

    We rode around in a borrowed Miata for a while…. It was a lot of fun, nice zippy car. Damn the Merc is a pricey bit of kit!

  • Lindy Mint June 16, 2011, 7:01 am

    That BMW looks like a fun little car!

    I had a friend in college who would always buy used Land Rovers. She found that the people who owned them were the type who wanted new cars frequently, so she could buy used ones at a good price, that still had a lot of years left.

    We unfortunately live in a city where going carless is nearly impossible, but I love the idea of Zipcar, especially if it’s your only option.

    • retirebyforty June 17, 2011, 1:42 pm

      Really? I though Land Rovers are pretty expensive in general.

  • Buck Inspire June 16, 2011, 7:25 am

    Awesome pics! Hilarious that you surprised the Mrs. like that. I surprised some friends by driving up in a new car, but it was a SUV. Don’t think that would fly with my Mrs. You got skillz! Would love to read about your Zipcar experience. Don’t know if they have that in LA.

    • retirebyforty June 17, 2011, 1:43 pm

      Yeah, I learned my lesson and there are minimal surprises now. Thanks for giving me the idea. I wrote a post about Zipcar. πŸ˜‰

  • Will @ HackingTheBank.com June 16, 2011, 8:22 am

    My girlfriend punches me in the arm when I buy a new $200 gadget (well, not literally). I can’t imagine what she’d do if I surprised his by splurging on a car. Although she is traveling in China for two more weeks, so maybe…

    • retirebyforty June 17, 2011, 1:44 pm

      Hahaha. Sure, why not. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission right?

  • 101 Centavos June 19, 2011, 3:14 pm

    I went carless the last year in college. In the morning, 8-mile bike ride to work (with shirt and tie neatly folded and packed on the rack), rode to the BART station in the afternoon, train ride to the station, ride up the damn hill to the campus for evening classes, back down to the station, and train ride back home. I was in much, much better shape in those days.

    • retirebyforty June 20, 2011, 7:48 am

      I was carless most of the time in college. The college town is right next to the university so most students just have a bike. Good old days. πŸ˜‰

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