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The BMW Z3 M Roadster.

An old-school roadster meets the most powerful inline six-cylinder engine if its time.

1 September 2022

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.

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

5 POWERFUL FACTS:

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

*from 2001

THE DESIGN.

At the 1996 Geneva Motor Show, BMW M provided a preview of the design of their exciting new convertible with a prototype called the M Roadster. A year later, the production version, the BMW Z3 M Roadster, went into production. It was instantly recognizable at first glance thanks to the four tailpipes, larger air intakes in the front apron and the side gills with elegant chrome application. M GmbH did not want to reinvent the original Z3 Roadster design as drawn by automotive designer Joji Nagashima, but instead worked to incorporate its specific characteristics while achieving even more dynamic handling. In this way, the unique design language and aesthetics of the popular BMW Z3 were retained even as an M model.

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.

AN ELEGANT SPORTS CAR SETUP.

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

AN ENGINE SUPPLIED BY THE ICONIC M3.

TECHNICAL DATA.

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

TEN MILLIMETERS LOWER AS STANDARD.

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.

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

THE SPORTY INTERIOR.

15,32215,322

15,322

15,322 BMW Z3 M Roadster were built between 1996 and 2002.

 

A BELOVED CLASSIC.

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