Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Car Of The Day: May 23, 2012

Today's car of the day comes from Firehawk73's collection and is Majorette's 1999 BMW Z3 Coupe.

The BMW Z3 was the first modern mass-market roadster produced by BMW, as well as the first new BMW model assembled in the United States. The Z in Z3 originally stood for Zukunft (German for future). (The very first BMW assembled in the US was the E36/4, 318i that rolled off the Spartanburg Plant assembly line beginning in October 1994.) The Z3 was introduced as a 1996 model year vehicle, shortly after being featured in the James Bond movie, GoldenEye. At that time Karen Sortito created the BMW campaign for the film GoldenEye. Afterwards, while the film was number one at the box office, sales of the car spiked.

There were a few variants of the car before its production run ended in 2002, including a coupé version for 1999. It was manufactured and assembled in Greer, South Carolina. The Z3 was replaced by the BMW Z4 introduced in late 2002 at the Paris Auto Show.

For more information and pictures of the real car please visit: BMW Z3

The Z3 was designed by Joji Nagashima of the BMW design team and developed from the E36 platform of the 3 Series. The resulting platform is sometimes referred to as the E36/7 (roadster) or E36/8 (coupé). The rear semi-trailing arm suspension from the E30 was used rather than the more sophisticated multilink suspension from the E36. At first, only the 1.9 L M44B19 straight-4 engine was offered, but its 138 hp (103 kW) was not up to buyers' expectations. Interior appointments too were not up to the standard of other BMW models, and the plastic rear window looked poor compared to the glass unit found on the much less expensive Mazda MX5 (Miata).

In 1997 a more powerful 6-cylinder engine was added. The 2.8 L engine (M52B28), similar to the BMW M52 straight-6 in the 328i except with an all aluminum block and head, was especially desirable with its 189 hp (141 kW). The M Roadster appeared in 1998 with a 3.2 L S52B32 engine (North America) or more powerful 3.2 L S50B32 engine (International). In 1999, the 1.9 L 4-cylinder engine was replaced with a 2.5 L straight-6 M52TUB25, producing 170 hp (130 kW) in North America. Due to marketing, BMW wanted to differentiate the 2.8 L engine from the 2.5 L engine, so it was badged 2.3 just like the 3-Series 323i, which also has a 2.5 L engine. Outside of North America, the 1.9 L 4-cylinder was replaced with a 2.0 L straight-6 in 1999, with 148 hp (110 kW).

There have been V8 engines fitted into the Z3 by German tuning companies AC Schnitzer (4.4L in roadster version, no series production) and Hartge (5.0L in Coupé version, titled Hartge Z3 MQP V8).
All of the engines were replaced for 2000. The range consisted of the 2.2 L M54B22 (available outside North America), 2.5 L M54B25, 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 updated was the car's interior appointments, though the plastic window remained.

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