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I have always wanted a convertible sports car - something for me to drive when the kids are in school or when I go to work (the night shift). I will have around $15K to spend (tops), and am thinking about a '99 or '00 Z3 or SLK.

I am just curious if anyone has specific experience with either of these cars.

Thanks in advance!
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The subject of a Mercedes under 20K just came up a day or so on another board I frequent.

http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?t=206175&highlight=slk

Have fun. Plenty of info on the Z3 running around there also.
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Of those two, I would lean towards the Z3. That generation of SLK was regarded as being pretty soft (as roadsters go). The BMW (particularly the 2.8) outperforms the Mercedes pretty handily if that's something you care about.

Pros/Cons from edmunds:

1999 Z3
Pros: These are some of the best cars available. Great engine choices, superb steering and brakes, and reasonable prices make Z3 cars stand out among offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
Cons: Limited trunk space means that you will always travel light. Small gas tank means that you will stop frequently for fuel.


1999 SLK
Pros: Good looking and spunky, this is the only convertible on the market to feature the all-weather protection of a retractable hardtop.
Cons: Performance lags behind the BMW Z3 and Porsche Boxster. Cabin is uncomfortable for exceptionally tall people.


There are a few other roadsters with similar used pricing from those model years. I'd take a look at the Miata (actually less $, you could go newer), S2000, Boxster, or even the BMW M (a little more $).
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Z3 - MB quality is in the TOILET.
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Darn, hit submit too soon - I prefer the looks of the MB way over the Z3...but quality would scare me away - considering the cost of repairs and ownership of both vehicles.
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If you're looking for a true roadster, non-nannified, seat of your pants roar of the engine experience, the S2000 is hard to beat. Only complaints I'm aware of on the S2000 is no passenger airbag cut off switch (no children riding shotgun) and there are reports of quality issues with the soft top roof material. Like other roadsters tall drivers are going to feel cramped. The S2000 would not be for me, I prefer a lot of torque in my engine, not one with a fatter taller horsepower curve - but I hear the S2000 is an absolute BLAST.
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If you're looking for a true roadster, non-nannified, seat of your pants roar of the engine experience, the S2000 is hard to beat.
I can't disagree, and I drive one everyday. I tried hard to be neutral in my previous post. ;)

Only complaints I'm aware of on the S2000 is no passenger airbag cut off switch (no children riding shotgun)
This was added in '06, but the early models lack the cutoff switch.

and there are reports of quality issues with the soft top roof material.
Some have had issues with wear spots at some of the folding points. I haven't, but I once had a misfold that resulted in a small tear. A new top is $900 in parts, plus labor. Fortunately, mine was covered under warranty.

I'll also mention that '00 or '01 models have a plastic rear window (as does the Z3, if memory serves). IMO, this is a serious detractor, as the plastic windows cloud severely as they age.


The S2000 would not be for me, I prefer a lot of torque in my engine, not one with a fatter taller horsepower curve - but I hear the S2000 is an absolute BLAST.
The missing torque is less of an issue than you might think. While the engine only produces about 150lb-ft, the light weight (mine is down to 2750lb) and ridiculously short gearing makes it for that in a hurry. At low rpm it's a little weak, but above 3k it's more than adequate. Most people I have taken for a ride think there must be a V6 in there.
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I'll also mention that '00 or '01 models have a plastic rear window (as does the Z3, if memory serves). IMO, this is a serious detractor, as the plastic windows cloud severely as they age.

Are there any aftermarket tops with glass windows available?
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I hear it's fairly cheap and easy to replace the Z3's plastic window. The SLK has a hard top which is appealing.
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Having owned a soft top Miata for the last 2.5 years, I'd vote for a hardtop convertible. If I ever do another convertible, it will be a hardtop.

Sound insulation and general comfort go up big time. I own a hardtop for my car........but not having to deal with the extra top etc would be well worth it.
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Are there any aftermarket tops with glass windows available?

On the S2000, a 2002 or newer OEM top (with glass) can be installed in an '00 or '01. I don't know if the Z3 ever switched to a glass top, or if a retrofit is possible there.
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