This week’s Car of the Week was spotted at The Midlands Breakfast Club at RAF Cosford and was a stunning example of the Z3 in a lovely mellow yellow colour.
Where the Z4 has a brutal appeal, the Z3 has a more gentle old school appeal captured perfectly in this example. Click on the picture to see a few different pictures of this beauty.
The BMW Z3 was the first modern mass-market roadster produced by BMW, as well as the first new BMW model assembled in the United States. (The very first BMW assembled in the US was the E36/4, 318i that rolled off the Plant Spartanburg assembly line beginning in October 1994.) The Z3 was introduced as a 1996 model year vehicle, shortly after being featured in the James Bond movie, GoldenEye. There were a few variants of the car before its production run ended in 2002, including a coupé version for 1999. It was manufactured and assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Z3 was replaced by the BMW Z4 introduced in late 2002 at the Paris Auto Show.
The Z3 was designed by Joji Nagashima of the BMW design team and developed from the E36 platform of the 3 Series. The resulting platform is sometimes referred to as the E36/7 (roadster) or E36/8 (coupé). The rear semi-trailing arm suspension from the E30 was used rather than the more sophisticated multilink suspension from the E36. At first, only the 1.9 L M44B19 straight-4 engine was offered, but its 138 hp (103 kW) was not up to buyers’ expectations. Interior appointments too were not up to the standard of other BMW models, and the plastic rear window looked poor compared to the glass unit found on the much less expensive 1999 Mazda MX5.
In the North American market, the inline-4 engine was replaced by a larger straight-6 engine in 1997: the 2.8 L M52B28. This engine, similar to the BMW M52 in the 328i except with an all aluminum block and head, was especially desirable with its 189 hp (141 kW). The M Roadster (see below) appeared in 1998 with a 3.2 L S52B32 (North America) or more powerful S50B32 (International) I6, just as the four was retired. In 1999, the 1.9 L 4-cylinder engine was replaced with a 2.5 L straight-6 M52TUB25, producing 170 hp (130 kW). Due to marketing, BMW wanted to differentiate the 2.8 L engine from the 2.5 L engine, so it was badged 2.3 just like the 3-Series 323i, which also has a 2.5 L engine.
Outside of North America, the 1.9 L 4-cylinder was replaced with a 2.0 L straight-6 in 1999.
There have been V8 engines fitted into the Z3 by German tuning companies AC Schnitzer (4.4L in roadster version, no series production) and Hartge (5.0L in Coupé version, titled Hartge Z3 MQP V) .
All of the engines were replaced for 2000. The range consisted of the 2.2 L M54B22 (available outside North America), 2.5 L M54B25, 3.0 L M54B30, and (for the M Roadster) 3.2 L S54B32. All three of these straight-6 engines lasted through the end of the car’s run in 2002. Also updated was the car’s interior appointments, though the plastic window remained.
A future classic?