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.
BMW’s M division has been long known for doing some pretty crazy things with its cars. We’ve ended up seeing most of their crazy experiments on the roadways in one form or another, but one experiment was so intense that it was axed before it ever saw the light of day. This program was to stuff a V-12 engine into the compact Z3 roadster, which saw production from 1996 through 2002.
This project was kept so tightly under wraps that apparently, BMW had forgotten all about it and just released images of this prototype on Monday. The V-12 stuffed between the Z3’s fenders is unknown for certain, but we can assume that it is the same plant that powered the much larger 750iL, which was a 5.4-liter that pumped out 325 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque.
While that’s a ton of power for such a little car, the 5.4-liter engine is far heavier than the 4- and 6-banger engines the Z3 came with. This likely caused some serious handling issues, causing M to scrap the ill-planned idea pretty quickly.
This failed project has now become public knowledge, as the images are plastered on BMW M’s Facebook page, though they don’t tell us exactly what their plans were for it.
Have a look for yourself and imagine how much fun this thing would be in a straight line. Then think about how scary it would be to have to attempt to take a sharp bend.
Considering the excruciatingly long distance and the myriad of unflattering conditions these three cars were subjected to, it’s a complete miracle that the three drop-top sports cars Top Gear used in their “Christmas Special” made it all the way to their destination in Bethlehem.
Though there were some mishaps and unplanned detours along the 1,200-mile journey from Iraq, Clarkson’s Mazda MX-5 , Hammond’s Fiat Barchetta , and May’s BMW Z3 , lasted long enough to see the three deliver their gifts of gold, frankincense, and apparently, a Nintendo DS.
As a result of successfully completing the journey of the Three Wise Men, the three sports cars are now on display in the World of Top Gear exhibition at Beaulieu, UK.
They’re not in the best of conditions, to say the least. Clarkson’s MX-5 has bullet holes on its doors as a result of an experiment gone bad, Hammond’s Barchetta experienced radiator problems, and May’s Z3…well, it fared the worst of the three with a laundry list of problems. But like true steeds dedicated to bringing their masters to their destination, the three sports cars battled dirt roads, desert dunes, and even an impromptu NASCAR-style race, to find a way to get to their destination.
So to give honor to these noble four-wheeled sheets of metal, the three sports cars have been placed in the World of Top Gear Exhibition to join its fellow brethren of cars that have been used over the years in different challenges by the cast of the show.
It’s a well-placed recognition considering what they’ve been through.
The Christmas special will be aired on December 26th, 2010 and will feature a Top Gear version of the boys’ "own 21st century nativity play," but as a gift for the holiday season Top Gear will also air their regular episode on December 21st. This episode features an "epic road trip up America’s east coast" with the boys driving a Mercedes SLS , a Porsche 911 GT3 RS , and a Ferrari 458 Italia . In this segment, the trio put the sports cars to the test to determine which is the greatest. Other segments of the episode will include Danny Boyle’s track run of the reasonably priced car and "a round up of car-related Christmas tat."
There you have it, two Top Gear episodes in one week. Isn’t Christmas wonderful?
Last month we got news that the boys from Top Gear were hanging out on the other side of the world in some not-so-extravagant vehicles. In an effort to make a joke, we compared them to the Three Wise Men heading off into the desert. Turns out, we were kind of right.
For Top Gear’s Christmas special, the trio of Clarkson, Hammond, and May are following the same route as the Three Wise Men. The only problem is the Bible says the Three Wise men followed the Star to find baby Jesus, so what route are the boys taking?
Making a few suppositions, Top Gear will start their trip from Persia, then head to Iraq - the "Cradle of Civilisation" before following the Euphrates up in to Syria and then down in to Jordan. After that, they head for Israel. And while the Biblical men were riding three camels, Top Gear will take their trip in a BMW Z3 , a Fiat Barchetta , and a Mazda MX-5 .
Those boys from Top Gear are just racking up their frequent flyer miles, aren’t they?
A few weeks ago, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May trooped to the US to do a number of scenes for season 15 of Top Gear. Now, the troika has once again been spotted in a foreign land about half a world away from US soil.
We don’t know what these chaps are doing with these cars, but given their nature of off-beat drives and wacky races, we’re guessing that it falls somewhere along those lines. There’s also word that they might be on their way to Nazareth, which is where Jesus himself lived for quite some time. Talk about a reincarnated version of the Three Kings riding sports cars instead of camels.
German cars are known for bring precision machines, but some people think the cars lack personality or soul. Since nothing gives that warm cuddly feeling like a nice oriental rug, one owner decided to use the pattern to make this first generation M Coupe more personable.
A paint job like this would obviously cost more then the car is worth, so this is a wrap. With what basically amounts to a big sticker, the owner was able to transform this from a 321 hp slick blue machine into living room furniture.
Hartge Z3 Coupe 5.0 V8 is a very unique car: only one was ever built. It has a maximum output of 420 hp and a peak torque of 530 Nm. The car reaches a top speed of more than 300 km/h. The car is now for sale.
How a BMW customized to look like a classic Mercedes sounds to you? The Duesen Bayern Mystar is based on a BMW Z3 and the result is a faithful retort of classic Mercedes 190 SL. The Duesen Bayern Mystar can be outfitted as a modest cruiser and urban runabout. More
At the IAA 1997, with the V8 roadster, AC Schnitzer were the first company to show that a V8 engine fits very neatly in the Z3. This concept car, which received a tumultuous reception in numerous tests by the international motoring press.