BMW Z3 E36 Roadster

The BMW Z3 E36 was the first mass market roadster manufactured BMW and was designed by Joji Nagashima of the BMW design team. The BMW Z Series are a line of roadsters considered to be successor to the BMW 507. The very first BMW assembled in the USA was the E36 4-door 318i that rolled out of the Spartanburg Plant in October 1994 and then the Z3 series which was completely assembled at the BMW plant in Greer, South Carolina in 1996.

The Z3 was introduced as a ‘96’ year model car and the entire BMW Z3 roadster production run in 1996 saw more than 15,000 roadsters built, which were sold out by the time the car was introduced to the market place. The Z3 was replaced by the BMW Z4 introduced in late 2002 at the Paris Auto Show.

BMW made few variants of the car before its production ended in the year 2002. Included was a coupé version for 1999 also manufactured and assembled at the Greer plant. The rear older semi trailing arm suspension setup from the BMW E30 was used rather than the more sophisticated multilink suspension from the later manufactured E36. Initially only the 1.9 litre M44B19 straight-4 138 Hp or 103 kW engine was fitted to the cars.

A year later in 1997 a more powerful 2.8 litre M52B28 6-cylinder engine replaced the M44B19 engine which was similar to the BMW M52 straight-6 in the 328i except with an all aluminum block and cylinder head. The new engine pushed out 189 Hp or 141 kW.

The M Roadsters engine was revised in 1998 and a 3.2 litre S52B32 engine was fitted which was more powerful than the 3.2 L S50B32 engine which was internationally a standard fitted engine. In 1999, the 1.9 L 4-cylinder engine was replaced with a 2.5 L straight-6 M52TUB25, producing 170 Hp  or 130 kW engine for the USA market. Outside of USA, the 1.9 litre straight-4 cylinder engine was replaced with a 2.0 litre straight-6 cylinder engine in 1999 which was capable of 148 Hp or 110 kW respectively.

Ac Schnitzer fitted a 4.4 litre V8 engine to the Z3 and Hartge also supplied a 5.0 litre Coupe version of the Z3 Roadster. In the year 2000 all of the engines were replaced with the 2.2 litre M54B22, 2.5 litre M54B25, 3.0 litre M54B30, and for the M Powered Roadster with a 3.2 litre S54B32 was the choiceof engines made by BMW technicians.

In addition to the roadster version of the Z3, BMW also released a coupé featuring a chassis stiffening rear hatch area. The coupé was available as the Z3 Coupé or as the BMW Motorsport-enhanced M Coupé from 1999 to 2002.

From 1998 to 2002, the Motorsports division of BMW produced the M Roadster which included suspension upgrades and the engine from the BMW M3. The 1998, 1999 and 2000 M roadster had the 3.2 litre S50 engine from the E36 M3 with quad exhausts. The 2001 and 2002 models were all fitted with the S54 M3 engine

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