European manufacturers have made convertible car models for many years, even for the american market. One of these is BMW. Have you heard about the Z3 roadster? This was the first mass-market and assembled BMW convertible in the United States. We saw this model on the market in 1996, just after it was featured in the James Bond movie, Golden Eye. The production ended in the year 2002 and before that many variants were introduced. The coupe version was also introduced in 1999 after having been manufactured and assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina. In the late 2002 the Z4 model - the successor to the Z3 model - was introduced in the Paris Auto Show.
The engineers which developed the Z3 used the E36 of the BMW 3 Series as a platform. The l name of the platform that resulted out of this was referred as the E36/7 model. The rear semi-trailing arm suspension from the E30 model 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 vehicle less of a performer than many buyers wanted. Feedback from customers told that the interiors of this model were not good as it was in the other models of this manufacturer. Especially bad looking was the plastic rear window even in comparison to to the glass unit found on the much-cheaper 1999 model Mazda Miata.
In 1997, this little four was complemented by a larger straight-6 engine In the North American market, the 2.8 L M52B28. This engine, taken from the 328i, was especially attractive with its 189 hp. As the four was retired a 3.2 L S52B32 I6 engine was used in the M Roadster that came in the year after. In 1999, the 1.9L 4-cylinder engine was replaced with a 2.5L straight-6, producing as much as 170 hp. Curiously, this BMW model was badged as the ‘2.3’.
Outside of North America a 2.0L straight-6 was used instead of a 1.9L 4-cylinder. All of the engines were replaced when the car was freshened for a few years later; more precisely in 2001. The range now consisted of the 2.2 L M54B22 (available outside of North America), 2.5 L M52B25, 3.0 L M52B30, 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 the year after. Except for the plastic window, the whole interiors were refurbished.
Other problems of the Z3 model reported were bad oxygen sensors, the plastic water pump and a rear shock mount that failed. The retro styling though, was more popular and 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 well known model M Roadster. This model included suspension upgrades and the engine from the BMW M3. A 3.2L S52 motor was there in the as early as in 1998 as well as 1999, and 2000 M roadster along with a quad exhaust. The models after the millennium change, in other words the 2001 and 2002 models had the S54 motor from the E46 M3 as well as interior upgrades with additional gauges in the center console. A lighted “M" shift knob, various chrome bits throughout the cockpit and sport seats were also part of the standard equipment. There were also many exterior changes, like larger wheels spaced further apart and more aggressive fenders than were installed on the regular Z3. It was also an option to have hardtops.
Terry Bolton is a writer and internet publisher who likes to publish automotive articles containing convertible cars . Read more at the websiteConvertibles .