BMW has been by admired for high engineering standards first in their motorcycles then their automobiles. In addition to quality, the BMW Z3 means ‘driving experience’. After your first experience behind the wheel, you will realize that this vehicle has been designed and built as a complete car. The Z was designed to provide not only a sporting experience but also excels in all areas of comfort, durability, attention to detail and sophistication. This was not by chance, but by design. Conventional sports cars may excel in one area but fail miserably in others.
The BMW Z3 has a wide range of versions which appeal to many driving enthusiasts but all have the same attributes that made them such a wonderful new car purchase as well as sensational residual value. The BMW dealer network will make this car historical in the pre-owned car market. Regardless when you enter the Z3 family, the price paid will be secondary to the car received.
BMW turns to America
Z3s were made in the Spartanburg Plant in South Carolina. I have been fortunate to be a guest several times and if you ever have the opportunity to visit and take the tour, you will not be disappointed. At the time the plant was built it was one of only two in the industry to receive the ISO 9002 certificate – an international quality standard for the industry. The European-built major mechanical components, engines, gearboxes, clutches, and drive assemblies accounted for so few problems with the start up model.
Traditionally, two seat cars were very spartan affairs. Z3 changed open-top motoring adding creature comforts plus safety/security, even the most basic models enjoy features such as electrically operated seats, windows and door mirrors, power steering, remote central locking, deadlocking and alarm activations, RDS radio/cassette.
All Z3s come with ABS anti-lock brakes, halogen headlamps, high level brake lights, side-impact protection and inertia reel seat belts, drivers airbag, impact cushions bumpers and a headlamps -on buzzer. This was the base car in 1996 and came with a 4-cylinder engine. The following year, a 6-cylinder, 2.8 engine was offered and the total vehicle was revised to accommodate the increased horse power plus additional base equipment was added.
BMW partnered with Hollywood in the hit James Bond movie Goldeneye. The movie featured the new Z3 4-cylinder model. The 1.9 engine had a top speed of 127 miles and the gas mileage was extremely good. After showcasing the Z3 in the Bond hit, initial Z3 production was totally sold out. Reviews at that time mentioned the car handled wonderfully but was underpowered compared to the competition, thus a more powerful 6-cylinder was already in the works.
The heart of the newcomer was a light weight, all aluminum, 24 valve straight six engine which had been used successfully in the BMW 3, 5, and 7 models for many years. The new engine included many positive changes including weight distribution of 50/50. With the addition of the 2.8, 6-cylinder engine, you now have a roadster that is smooth and extremely and a real pleasure to drive on both long journeys and short trips. Even at 192 hp you can get 35+ miles per gallon on the road. The 6-cylinder proved to be the end of the 4-cylinder.
The 1996 Geneva auto show is were BMW first showed off the new M roadster; at the time was the “Fastest accelerating BMW automobile ever produced”, 0-62 mph 5.4 sec. The power plant was considered the world's best, the USA model produced 240 hp. The European version had 321 hp which was one of the most powerful normally aspirated engines produced on the planet. This engine has enormous pulling power from 2000 RPM through 7600 RPM. Keep in mind the terrific MPG achieved 25-30 mpg and a top speed 155 mph. The engine was developed in-house in coordination with Siemens company so it is an exclusive BMW product. Ease of use and ease of maintenance were of the utmost importance. Many automotive writers consider the Z3 the ultimate roadster ever produced at an amazingly affordable price. Today on the secondary market, it's incredible to see what owners receive on a well presented used Z3 M. There is no other vehicle that even comes close to the value received in the used car market, that's why the cars are not depreciating but appreciating. Other similar vehicles such as Mercedes and Porsche can only be seen in the rearview mirror! The M roadster combines rawness, sense of purpose and sophistication for all proud owners.
The coupe version was born out of chance, not thought out at a BMW engineering meeting. With the amazing success of the roadster, discussions of a true GT car came about. All involved wanted to improve the stiffness of the car wanting to improve the rigidity and refinement. Both of these upgrades would equal a better handling vehicle. BMW senior management had no idea that this car was being worked on; only when the car was finalized in clay form did senior management see the results. You either love the coupe or hated it but due to the fact that it did not need complete reengineering, as many parts were from the roadster, senior management gave it a go. This car is for the true individualist. I guess that was why I ordered one in 1999 the first time I looked at it, and I still have the car today and have enjoyed it immensely. The five engineers that put this vehicle together did so as individuals, quite an achievement for a company the size of BMW. Today the car without questions is an enthusiasts dream. There were very limited number produced and the prices reflect this fact. The car was produced in a regular Z3 version as well as the “M”
This is just the beginning, I will cover in great detail more on the history of this wonderful vehicle and in addition Mr. Z3.com will also feature current trends and answer any questions. I hope to find you a special car, this is all part of this MR Z3 Family.