The BMW Z3 M Roadster in half-profile.


Classic roadster virtues meet impressive driving performance.

The BMW Z3 M Roadster.Classic roadster virtues meet impressive driving performance.

The Z3 Roadster is the epitome of an open top sports car from the 1960s with its long hood, short rear end, short overhangs on the front and rear and sweeping, deep lines with strongly accentuated wheel arches. The powerful engine sits at the front, driven of course by the rear axle. "This is the most authentic way to drive a BMW!" shouted the trade press. So, what could be more apt than to build an M model based on this iconic car? This was part of the plan when the Z3 Roadster went into development. In 1997, one year after the BMW AG’s M production car, rolled into dealerships. With an even sportier look, the M suspension and the powertrain of the then BMW M3 E36 under the hood.

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BMW Z3 M Roadster front, driving.
BMW Z3 M Roadster rear.


  • 01 Power: 236 kW (321 hp)/239 kW (325 hp)*
  • 02 Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h: 5.4 s
  • 03 Vmax: 250 km/h
  • 04 Construction period: 1997 to 2002
  • 05 Production number: 15,322

*from 2001

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The rear section is 86 millimeters wider than on the four-cylinder models; the regular Z3 with a six-cylinder engine, the 2.8, is also fitted with this feature. However, the four polished stainless-steel tailpipes in the redesigned rear apron are reserved for the M automobile. The front apron of the M Roadster is characterized by large air intakes. These are not just for decorative purposes but fulfil several functions at once: They ensure engine cooling, good downforce values and targeted rear axle airflow.

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Detail of the elegant side gills with chrome applications of the BMW Z3 M Roadster.


In order to provide an optimum driving experience, BMW M equipped the open sports car with mixed tires. The 17-inch cast wheels are fitted with 225/45 R 17 tires at the front and 245/40 R 17 at the rear. In the side view, in addition to the aerodynamically designed M exterior mirrors and white turn signal lenses, the more elegant gills with chrome applications stand out, a reference to the iconic BMW 507 Roadster.

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An enigne supplied by the iconic M3.

At its heart is the 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine from the BMW M3 E36, which, according to spec sheet can achieve 236 kW (321 hp) and a maximum torque of 350 Nm, which is available at just 3,250 rpm. The power is sent to the rear axle, which means that only 1,425 kg of the curb weight has to be moved. Thanks in part to the lightweight fabric soft top, the convertible weighs 40 kg less than the Z3 M Coupé and accelerates from a standstill to highway speed in the same time: the Z3 M Roadster sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds, stopping only at the electronically limited speed of 250 km/h. The gears are selected via a manual 5-speed transmission. The gears are engaged by a 5-speed manual transmission. With the 2001 model year, the car was given even more power. The reason for this was the inclusion of the improved six-cylinder engine from the BMW M3 E46, which helped the convertible to reach 239 kW (325 hp).,

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The BMW Z3 M Roadster takes over the 6-cylinder engine from the BMW M3 E36.

The BMW Z3 M Roadster adopts the 6-cylinder engine from the BMW M3 E36.


BMW Z3 M Roadster.

Engine: Six-cylinder in-line engine
Displacement: 3,201 cm³ (from 06/01: 3,246 cm³)
Output: 236 kW/321 (from 06/01: 325) hp at 7,400 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Top speed: 250 km/h
Weight: 1,425 kg
Length: 4,025 mm
Width: 1,740 mm
Height: 1.266 mm
Wheelbase: 2.459 mm
Production number: 15,322

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The BMW Z3 M Roadster takes over the 6-cylinder engine from the BMW M3 E36.

The BMW Z3 M Roadster adopts the 6-cylinder engine from the BMW M3 E36.


For an even more agile driving experience in keeping with the engine, the right suspension is of course indispensable. With the sporty, taut M suspension, the Z3 M Roadster is 10 millimeters lower than its less sporty brothers. The front axle corresponds to that of the BMW M3 E36, i.e., it has independent suspension fitted with control arms and McPherson struts including compound brake discs. While the developers have specially adapted the rear axle with semi-trailing arms to the sporty convertible. A limited-slip differential rounds off the whole package.

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A view of the interior and cockpit of the BMW Z3 M Roadster.


Inside, the BMW M remains true to its line by further elaborating on the roadster's strengths rather than fundamentally changing it. The layout of the interior remains the same for the M model: the cockpit is oriented toward the driver, who has a view of the various round instruments with chrome frames which sit in front of the M sports steering wheel. The radio, ventilation, and all other functions, such as control of the fabric soft top - which opens electrically in the Z3 M Roadster - are located on the center console. In addition, there are three more displays on the sportiest Z3 Cabrio, also set in chrome: Time, oil temperature and outside temperature. The driver and front passenger sit low in the car, in true sports car style, on sporty seats with heated seats as standard. Visual highlight: the two-tone dashboard.

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The transition of the classic roadster into a new era in which it was paired with the iconic inline six-cylinder engine, made the BMW Z3 M Roadster an extremely fun-to-drive and sought-after two-seater. And that's still true today, as the M car continues to rise in value despite being less rare than the Z3 M Coupe. 15,322 units of the open-top sports car were sold between 1997 and 2002, but the end of production by no means meant the farewell of the sports roadster at BMW M. The successor model, the Z4, also became available again as the Z4 M from 2006 after a four-year break.

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The BMW Z3 M Roadster from behind on a country road.