In 1989, BMW released their kookiest car yet; the outlandish Z1. Its recipe? A small, two-seater sports car, with eccentric styling features, including vertically sliding doors and removable plastic body panels. Although initial demand seemed strong, there would only ever be around 8,000 units produced, and by 1991 manufacturing was halted. In truth, the Z1 was a bit of an experiment, and despite the low production numbers, BMW claimed to have received more orders than it could fulfil. It predicted there would be huge demand for small, cheap, lightweight sports cars in the coming years, and by the mid-nineties this prediction had been proven correct, as the Mazda MX-5 had become a runaway success all over the world. Wholeheartedly encouraged, BMW decided to jump back into the market, and in 1995 the Z1’s successor was launched; the Z3. This time around, all the ingredients were in place to make the latest Z car a mass-market success.
The Z3 was one of the first BMWs to be built in the USA, and because the price had to be kept as low as possible to compete with the likes of the MX-5, many of the components were taken straight from the already successful E36 3-Series. The early models were fitted with a fairly lacklustre 1.8 4-cylinder engine producing just 118bhp, but whilst it was down on power, the overall reception to the car was still positive. Largely thanks to a helping hand from one of Britain’s finest…
1995 was the year Pierce Brosnan starred as James Bond in Goldeneye, and for the first time in history, he would be given a BMW to drive. Bond’s trusty colleague, Q, introduced the Z3 to the world, and of course, it was fitted with all the mod-cons any self-respecting international spy would expect. The stage was set for the Z3 to take the world by storm.
Page 1 of 4