BMW’s illustrious history began during World War I when the now-successful luxury car-builder developed fighter aircraft-engine. At the end of the WWI it switched to developing motorcycles, then in 1929, BMW bought its way into the car industry when it purchased the Dixi Car factory and started developing automobiles — some of its best were elegant roadsters.
The first roadster to roll out of Bimmer’s factory was the 315/1, which was based on the 315 saloon. From here, things evolved to the 328, which was one of the most successful roadster ever developed by BM and won the Mille Miglia in many times and the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans .
After the WWII, BMW was in great trouble and it needed a car to rescue it, and BMW thought that car was the 507. It was indeed a great car, with one of the most gorgeous design languages in the era and a powerful engine under the hood. However, because of its high price — $10,500 — the 507 was almost responsible for putting the BMW into bankruptcy. Only 252 units were ever developed, despite BMW’s 5,000-units-per-year projection.
Next BMW started to develop the Z series, with the Z1 being the first model. What is very cool about the Z1 is that the doors drop down into the door sills so you can drive it with no doors. Next we had the Z3 , Z8 and the current Z4 . The black sheep of the family was the Z3 , which never really looked or felt like a BMW.
Check out the video (above) to get a closer look at Bimmer’s history of roadsters.
Rumors suggest that both the new Z4 and thenew Supra will be built on the same platform as the GT86 sports coupe. If these rumors turn out to be true, it will mean that the next Z4 will be a much more dynamic handling car than the current generation – not that the current generation is a slouch.
It has been also rumored that BMW is preparing a new V-6 hybrid system that will deliver about 400 horsepower, which is pretty big boost over the current 335 horsepower delivered by the most powerful Z4 version: the sDrive35is.
The new generation BMW Z4 is set to be unveiled in late 2015 as a 2016 model, so we will find out in a few years.
While we are all waiting for the next-generation Z4 , it looks like BMW has slid in a refreshed version for the 2014 model year for good measure. The model has been caught testing in many times and now it will be making its world debut in January 2013 at the Detroit Auto Show.
BMW’s decision to update for the current generation Z4 Roadster shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone. First, the current-gen Z4 has been on the market since 2009 and secondly, a final decision on a third-generation Z4 is still to be made.
Of course, the updates on the 2014 Z4 aren’t very impressive; in fact, the U.S. market will be the only one not receiving the biggest update — a new entry-level model that features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine. Other updates will be limited to the exterior, and will include updated LED headlights and two new set of wheels… That’s pretty much it!
Updated 12/18/2012: This review has been updated with the official details, images and specs.
Updated 12/26/2012: BMW has unveiled two very cool video for their new Z4 Roadster set to be revealed in Detroit. The new video show the car in action, but also a few exterior and interior design elements.
BMW is playing what seems to be the Cupid Shuffle with a few of its Z variants. Rumors are circulating that state the company is planning on bringing back the Z3, amongst other changes in their Z lineup, but the information is not official and seems to be too confusing to grab hold of.
Let’s explain. The current Z-Series lineup consists of the lonely Z4 Roadster , but BMW definitely as plans to change that. Recently, we mentioned plans for the future Z2 model, but those plans are being diverted to another mode. Turns out, BMW was going to develop the Z2, but then changed their minds when they decided they need an entry level roadster. The Z2 got bumped onto the same UKL Matrix platform used for the 1-Series and the Mini models, making it more of a Z1 model. Once that slot was filled, BMW then used the plans that had been intended for the grander Z2 and moved them on up to the new Z4 which will actually be the proposed Z3 . The current Z4 Roadster will remain the same, keeping its luxurious hardtop design in line with the current Z5 and making it a perfect candidate to give the Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster a run for its money.
Now for the recap. The future Z-Series line-up will include the Z1 entry level roadster, the premium Z3, and the luxury Z5. Now that we have broken down BMW’s plans, let’s hope they are actually confirmed in the near future.
Building a roadster can give car manufacturers some unique opportunities. These types of vehicles typically have a devoted following and create their own rules outside of the constraints of many mainstream companies’ core product lines. They are able to test new technology and bend the rules of design in order to make a roadster look and feel like it belongs with everything else.
Roadsters are also a very specific formula of two-doors, lightweight components, and the thrill of open air driving. In a way, the first cars ever built were roadsters and the trend has continued throughout time with legendary models from Ford , Chrysler , and BMW. German brands were the last to catch on to the glory days of the roadster from the 1950s and BMW began producing its first back in 1989 with the Z1.
Many BMW fans may look at this moniker and thing, “does he mean M1?” No, we don’t mean the fantastic supercar that BMW built around the same time and has yet to be resurrected. The Z1 was the first in a line of two-seat roadsters that BMW produced and it proved a worthy test-bed for some BMW technology still used today.
Could BMW have a roadster up their sleeve? We can only hope so. The BMW Blog has announced that a BMW insider says they will revive the 2005 California Spyder Concept presented in Los Angeles in 2005. We caught wind of this a few days ago when we reported about Norbert Reithofer’s "Dream Project", which consisted of the BMW Spyder Stradale . This concept was used in the preview of the 2009 BMW Z6 that was talked about, but never brought to light. It seems BMW has been a lot of talk, but very little action so we are not sure if we can believe this next round of roadster rumors. Of course, we are going to indulge in them anyway.
BMW’s idea is to take the California Spyder concept and transform it into a premium eco-efficient roadster that will end up replacing the Z8 and share a platform with the production version of the ED Concept. This rendering of the BMW Spyder Stradale provided by Andrei Avarvarii is based on the original sketch released by BMW in 2005, but is freshened up a little in style. It leans more towards something that we could expect from the Bavarian manufacturer in 2014. The sculptured athletic body is a combination of a retro long bonnet silhouette with sharp modern lines that create aggressive air intakes. The lights pay a tribute to the Z8 , while the wheels show how the advanced design of those featured on the ED Concept could be turned into a production model.
We can only hope that the BMW Spyder Stradale is not just a ploy to get us talking about BMW. Quite frankly, we just want to see it in action.
In 2010, BMW will launch a new model on the market. Supposed to be Z8 successor, the Z9 will be priced somewhere arround $150.000. The Z9 will not have a tapered rear end–something that was seen as beloved part of the Z8. The trunk will have grow in order to accomodate the Z9’s retractable hardtop. It will be powered by V-10 engine used on the M Group and also the European market will get a range of diesel (...) More
BMW is planning a high-end sports car that will compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL. The new model will be a luxury roadster, on the same size as the 6-series, but the mechanical parts will be from both the 6 Series and the 5 Series and engine from the 3-series. The new Z6 will be a succesor for the Z8, produced from 2000 to 2003.
BMW is known to release from time to time limited-production cars as the prototypical expression of the excitement for driving that is the company’s backbone. The Z8 roadster was the latest vehicle to have continued this tradition. The initial prototype (the Z07) was designed in order to celebrate the famous’ BMW 507 50th birthday. The incredible success of the concept-car produced the decision of building the vehicle in a limited series, designated Z8. Produced in fewer than 5700 units between 2000 and 2003, the Z8 is already a collector’s car.
It seems that BMW i s doing its best of going stronger in the roadsters area. After rumors about a Z8 model coming in 2010, Autoweek has a report of the new Z2 coming from BMW, confirming what Autobild said a few weeks ago. The new model will be available starting 2010 (probably), but for sure it won’t arrive until after the next-generation Z4 arrives in 2009. The new Z2 will share the same components with the existing 1 Series and 3 Series and will be built alongside the next-generation Z4 (...) More