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1997 BMW Z3

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About the 1997 BMW Z3

The BMW Z3 is a compact two-door roadster that features a front-mount engine and rear-wheel drive. The Z3 was the first modern roadster produced by BMW for the mass market. It was also one of the first vehicles from BMW that was assembled completely in the United States. The Z3 features either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmission and is powered by a number of different engines ranging from the 1.8-liter M43B18 I4 to the 3.2-liter S54B32 I6.

The BMW Z3 is a two-passenger vehicle that was assembled in Greer, South Carolina. The Z3 was designed by Joji Nagashima in Munich, Germany. During the inaugural year of production in 1996, the 1.9-liter M44B19 was the only engine offered and it topped out at 138 horsepower. Later, in 1997, the 6-cylinder M52B28 was introduced. This engine helped the Z3 eat up the miles faster with its 189 horsepower output. The Z3 averages approximately 20 miles per gallon in most of the models produced from 1996 through 2002.

When the Z3 was introduced, BMW enthusiasts were less than impressed. With its plastic rear window and slow 1.9-liter engine, the Z3 was jokingly referred to as a glorified Mazda Miata". However, as BMW made improvements to the Z3 by adding higher horsepower options under the hood and sprucing up the interior appointments, the Z3 became a highly sought-after sports car throughout the late '90s until its production run ended in 2002.

The BMW Z3's level of refinement is what sets it apart from similar vehicles. The suspension allows the Z3 to take corners as if it were gripping the pavement. The interior design is Spartan, which is the case with most sports cars. While many might appreciate this no-frills approach to the interior's design, some may view the materials used on the interior as just plain cheap. One area where the Z3 excels is the design of the exterior. Striking lines and angled air intakes on the upper portion of the front quarter panels give the Z3 a profile that is reminiscent of a Great White shark.

In 1995, the BMW Z3 won the "Super Reggie" award for its marketing campaign, which was based upon the James Bond movie, GoldenEye. Later, in 1999, the Z3 made the "Editor's Most Wanted Vehicle" list on, while the M Coupe/M Roadster, a Z3 variant, made Car and Driver's "Ten Best" list. In 2000, the BMW Z3 2.3 made Intellichoice's "Best Overall Value" list and the M Coupe was listed as Top Gear's "Driver's Car of the Year". Production on the Z3 ended in 2002, but even today, this car is highly valued by sports car aficionados. ... View more

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