Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 24 May

With its swollen haunches and smarter back end, the refreshed Z3 of 2000 looked the business.

BMW Z3 2.2, £4995: The 146bhp 2.0-litre six survived the facelift but had been replaced within a year by the 168bhp 2.2. It was one of these, a 2002-reg Sport manual with 62,000 miles, that caught our eye. Finished in classic Estoril Blue with black leather and riding on bright BBS alloy wheels, it’s offered with the rare removable hard-top, although that does mean we’d need to find a safe place to store it. Still, ’tis a small detail.

What isn’t is the lack of information concerning the car’s number of previous owners as well as its service history. Cross that bridge etc. While we’re preparing to do that, we’ll recall a few checks pertinent to it and other Z3s. They include looking for problems with the camshaft position sensor on the Vanos variable valve timing system, and listening for a rattly dual-mass flywheel and for gentle tapping on start-up (which fresh oil should cure). Turning to the gearbox, we’ll feel for clutch drag and check the rear differential mount isn’t about to give way. While poking about there, we’ll check the fuel tank for damage.

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: Find me a cool cabrio for £10k, please.

Mercedes-Benz SL500, £9950: There’s nothing cooler than cruising along in a classy convertible with the wind blowing through your hair – and, for many decades, the smartest-looking convertible has beenthe Mercedes SL. The one I’ve chosen is a 1996 SL500 with the desirable M119 5.0 V8 engine. The car still has its original hard-top and stand, and comes with a full service history. What’s more, there’s some investment potential with this SL because prices are beginning to firm up as people realise how good these things are.  Max Adams

Honda S2000, £9995: You want a really cool drop-top? The S2000 is a perfectly balanced, rear-wheel-drive two-seater of prodigious performance and low polar moments. At its heart is a wonderful 8300rpm, 237bhp 2.0-litre VTEC engine, a work of art that can potter around or hammer like a racer at the switch of a cam profile. It has aluminium double-wishbone suspension, supersharp steering and a hood that is quick to erect and lower, too. This one is immaculate, has a full history and shows only 60,000 miles – and, of course, it’ll never go wrong… Mark Pearson

Verdict: That Honda is hot but the Merc is so cool and just what the doctor ordered.