The BMW Z3 was the first in a line of roadsters produced for wide consumption by the BMW car company. Also called the E36/4, it was the first BMW model ever produced in the U.S. Spartanburg Manufacturing plant.

More on the BMW Z3
BMW Z3 Origins

The Z3 was first introduced in October of 1994 in the film, GoldenEye, and BMW released it to the public in 1996. BMW ceased production of the Z3 at the end of 2002, when the BMW Z4 model replaced it.

About the BMW Z3

The BMW Z3 was best known for its high-performance capabilities as well as its incredible design. Japanese designer Joji Nagashima, who created the body designs for the BMW E36, E90, E39, and the BMW 5 series, designed the Z3 body model. The Z3 is based upon the third series of compact executive cars developed by BMW in 1990. The chassis of the BMW gives the Z3 its sleek "dolphin shape."

The BMW Z3 appeared in the Pierce Brosnan Bond film GoldenEye. Sales of the car increased due to the popularity of the film and the release of the car to the public.

The Z3 vehicle was highly desirable, and made several top ten lists, including the “10 Best” list by a top automotive magazine in 1999. AUTOMOBILE Magazine named the Z3 design of the year in 1999. The famous British automobile show Top Gear named the Z3 "Driver’s Car of the Year" in 2000. The Z3 M also earned Top Gear Car of the Year in 2002.

The BMW Z3 was discontinued in 2002 for the updated Z3 model. Many used versions of the vehicle are available for purchase from reputable resellers.

BMW Z3 Evolution

Several variations of the BMW Z3 were released during the cars run from 1996 to 2002.

The original Z3 model has a 1.9-liter, straight-four engine. This engine is weak and does not satisfy consumers’ appetites. BMW later introduced a six-cylinder 2.8-liter engine to the standard model, while the BMW Z3 M contains a 3.2-liter version of the engine. All Z3 engines were replaced in 2000. The brand introduced 2.2-, 2.5- and 3.0-liter engines to increase the power of the entire Z3 line.

In 1997, traction control on the vehicle was upgraded from the original model to increase stability. Rollover bars were added in 1998 to increase the vehicle’s safety. In 1999, the Z3 underwent a redesign with a new rear end, and side airbags were presented to prevent injury during side collisions. In 2001, the Dynamic Brake Control system developed by BMW was introduced to the Z3 line.

The BMW Z3 M roadster remains the high-performance version of the vehicle. The Z3 M roadster was introduced in 1998 and ran until the Z3’s end of production in 2002. The body has several variations from the regular Z3 model, including front and rear bumpers, gills for engine cooling, rear wings for aerodynamics, a trunk, and added mirrors. The suspension system of the Z3 M allows for the use of wider wheels. The interior of the vehicle is also different, with redesigns to the steering wheel and some of the dials, including the oil gauge. Interiors and exteriors between U.S. and European models sometimes differ. The BMW Z4 M replaced the BMW Z3 M roadster in 2006.

The roadster has many performance features that set it above the standard Z3 model. The gear box, in particular, gives the roadster better control.

All versions of the BMW Z3 M roadster were produced in the Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, with the engines being shipped all the way from the BMW plant in Germany.

The Z3 coupe version of the vehicle was introduced in 1999. The chassis is redesigned, and included a hatchback. The coupe has the most powerful engine in the Z3 line: a six-cylinder engine, at 2.8 liters in 1999 and a 3.0-liter engine in both Europe and the U.S. for 2000. A high-performance M coupe was also introduced and featured a 3.2-liter engine taken from the E36 BMW M3. In 2001 and 2002, the coupe came with the S54 engine from the E46 BMW M3. The coupe was manufactured at the BMW plant in Greer, South Carolina.

Select a BMW Z3 Year

2002 BMW Z3

Convertible, Coupe, Sports

The 2002 BMW Z3 is the final year of production of this mass-market roadster manufactured by BMW.

2001 BMW Z3

Convertible, Coupe, Sports

The 2001 BMW Z3 provides one of the most fun cars available today.

2000 BMW Z3

Convertible, Coupe, Sports

The 2000 BMW Z3 is a sporty rear-drive two-seater that is available as either a hatchback coupe or convertible.

1999 BMW Z3

Convertible, Coupe, Sports

It is very rare that a vehicle comes along that makes such an impact as the Z3 model.

1998 BMW Z3

Convertible, Sports

Since its introduction in 1996, the Z3 roadster has enjoyed consistent popularity among buyers and plenty of admiration on the road.

1997 BMW Z3

Convertible, Sports

The 1997 BMW Z3 is an exciting ride that is high on the must-have list for driving enthusiasts.

1996 BMW Z3

Convertible, Sports

The 1996 BMW Z3 classifies as a sporty, two-passenger, two-door roadster and marks the first new BMW assembled entirely in the U.