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BMW Z3

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BMW Z3.jpg
BMW Z3
BMW
aka E36/7
Production 1996-2002
Class Sport car
Body Style Two Seater-Coupe
Length 4025mm
Width 1692mm
Height 1288mm
Wheelbase 2446mm
Weight 1275kg
Transmission Manual & Auto
Engine 1.8 litre Inline-4
1.8 litre 8 valve Inline-4
1.9 litre Inline-4
2.0 litre Straight-6
2.2 litre Straight-6
2.8 litre Straight-6
3.0 litre Straight-6
3.2 litre Straight-6
Power From 118bhp to 321bhp / From 180Nm to 300Nm
Similar Audi TT Roadster
Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
Honda S2000
Designer {{{Designer (lead designer if it was a team effort)}}}

The BMW Z3 was the first modern mass-market roadster produced by BMW, as well as the first BMW model assembled in the United States. It 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 coupe version for 1999. It was manufactured and assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Z3 was replaced by the BMW Z4 in late 2002 at the Paris Auto Show.

Overview

The Z3 was developed from the E36 platform of the 3 Series. The resulting platform is sometimes referred to as the E36/7. The rear semi-trailing arm suspension from the E30 was used rather than the more sophisticated multilink suspension from the E36. At first, just the 1.9 L M44B19 straight-4 engine was offered, though its 138 hp made the car less of a performer than many buyers wanted. Interior appointments, too, were not up to the standard of other BMW models, and the plastic rear window looked especially bad compared to the glass unit found on the much-cheaper 1999 Mazda Miata.

In the North American market, this little four was complemented by a larger straight-6 engine in 1997, the 2.8 L M52B28. This engine, similar to the 3 series m52(3 series 328i) except with an all aluminum block and head, was especially desirable with its 189 hp. The M Roadster (see below) appeared in 1998 with a 3.2 L S52B32 I6, just as the four was retired. In 1999, the 1.9L 4-cylinder engine was replaced with a 2.5L straight-6, producing 170 hp. Curiously, this model was badged as the '2.3'.

Outside of North America, the 1.9L 4-cylinder was replaced with a 2.0L straight-6 in 1999.

All of the engines were replaced when the car was freshened for 2001. Now, the range consisted of the 2.2 L M54B22 (available outside of North America), 2.5 L M52B25, 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 freshened was the car's interior appointments, though the plastic window remained.

The Z3 proved quite reliable, with problems limited to bad oxygen sensors, a flimsy plastic water pump, and failing rear shock mounts. With time the most common problems are rocking seats and water leaks on the roof. Also the trunk floor has been known to crack due to poor spot welding and an inferior single differential mount.
The car's retro styling was popular,"even the upscale Mercedes-Benz SLK runabout can't play in the Z3's sandbox. With the wind in your hair,a six-second 0-60 sprint in a car this size plants a smile on your face that no four-cylinder car can match".
The Z3s have held their value fairly well in the resale market.

M Roadster

From 1998 to 2002, the Motorsports division of BMW produced the M Roadster which included suspension upgrades and the engine from the BMW M3. The 1998, 1999 and 2000 M roadster had the 3.2L S52 motor from the US E36 M3 into it with quad exhaust. The rest of the world had the S50B32 from 1998 to 2000 with 321 horsepower. The 2001 and 2002 models had the S54 motor from the E46 M3. There were also interior upgrades with additional gauges in the center console, lighted "M" shift knob, various chrome bits throughout the cockpit and sport seats as standard equipment. Exterior changes were larger wheels spaced further apart and more aggressive fenders than were installed on the regular Z3. Hardtops were available as an option.

Coupé

In addition to the roadster version of the Z3, BMW also released a coupe featuring a chassis-stiffening rear hatch area. The coupe was available as the Z3 Coupé from 1999 to 2001 or as the BMW Motorsport-enhanced M Coupe from 1999 to 2002.

The Z3 Coupes were only available with the largest 6-cylinder engine offered in the Z3 roadster: the 2.8 L in 1999 and 2000 and the 3.0 L in 2000 for Europe and 2001 for the US. The 1999 and 2000 M models were equipped with the 3.2L S52 motor from the US E36 BMW M3, while the rest of the world had the S50B32 from 1998 to 2000 with 321 horsepower. All the 2001 and 2002 models came with the S54 motor from the E46 BMW M3.

Gallery

In Popular Culture

Model maker Tamiya makes a 1:24 scale replica of a BMW Z3.

The BMW Z3 was the star car of the James Bond film GoldenEye.

A Z3 was seen driven in Billie Piper's music video clip Day & Night.

See Also

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