The BMW Z models are a line of roadsters manufactured by German automaker BMW. The Z stands for zukunft (German for future), and has been produced in four different series with six generations consisting of roadster, coupé, sports car, and concept variants.
The introduction of the M Coupé and M Roadster in the Z3 line marked the first of the Z series to have a high-performance BMW M variant. The first generation Z4 also continued to offer M Coupé and M Roadster variants. The current Z4 (G29) uses BMW's (B58B30) inline-six, its platform is the basis for the current Toyota Supra.
The BMW Z1 is a two-seat roadster developed by BMW and was produced from March 1989 to June 1991. It was based on the E30 3 Series platform. The Z1 featured unusual doors which, instead of opening outward or upward, dropped into the door sills and had body panels which could easily be removed and replaced; the car could be driven with all its body panels removed for weight reduction and increased performance. Only 8,000 examples of the Z1 were produced.
The Z3 was the first modern mass-market roadster produced by BMW. It was introduced for the 1996 model year shortly after being featured in the James Bond movie GoldenEye. More than 15,000 were sold by the time the car was introduced. The Z3 underwent a facelift in 1999 with the introduction of a coupé bodystyle and featured revised styling, before the end of its production run in 2002. The coupé had controversial styling and was nicknamed as "clown shoe". It was manufactured and assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The Z8 was produced from 2000 to 2003 and was the production variant of the 1997 Z07 concept car, which was designed by Danish Henrik Fisker at BMW's DesignworksUSA. The Z07 originally was designed as a styling exercise to celebrate the 507 roadster of the 1950s, but the overwhelming popularity of the concept spurred BMW's decision to produce a limited production model called the Z8. 5,703 cars were built, approximately half of which were exported to the United States.
The first-generation BMW Z4 was known as the E85 in roadster form and E86 in coupé form. It was designed by Danish BMW-designer Anders Warming.
The Z4's design addressed many criticisms of the preceding Z3; it was larger and featured a significantly stiffer chassis. The Z4 was initially only available as a roadster, but a coupé version was officially launched in 2006. The last model rolled off the assembly line on 27 August 2008 at the Spartanburg plant.
The second-generation Z4 was announced on 13 December 2008 and debuted at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit the following month. It is the first Z Series model to use a retractable hardtop and meant that there were no longer separate roadster and coupé versions of the car. The top is made of a two-piece lightweight aluminium shell and takes 20 seconds to operate. Manufacturing was moved from Spartanburg, United States to Regensburg, Germany.
The G29 Z4 is the third and current generation Z4 and was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on 23 August 2018. It reuses the soft-top convertible roof found on the E85 Z4 instead of a retractable hardtop which now takes 10 seconds for operation. The G29 Z4 shares its platform with the J29 Toyota Supra and is manufactured in the same plant in Austria.
The following are the production and sales figures for Z models, excluding the Z1:
The BMW Z9 (or Z9 Gran Turismo) is a concept coupé introduced at the 1999 Frankfurt Auto Show, with a convertible variant later unveiled at the 2000 Paris Auto Show. The vehicle features unique gull-wing doors that also opened like a conventional hinged door and innovations such as an early concept of BMW's iDrive system, called the Intuitive Interaction Concept, were incorporated into other production vehicles. Much of the styling found on the E63 6 Series is also derived from the Z9.
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