How BMW's Early History With Roadsters Inspired The BMW Z4

The BMW Z4 is the company's latest roadster, but it's just one in a long line of roadsters.

The German automaker BMW has a very long history of making classy looking roasters and sports cars. The BMW Z4 is no different.

Their first roadster attempt came out all the way back in 1929 with the 3/15. So it isn't like the manufacturer is a stranger to this particular style of car, though they are mostly known for their sporty sedans. The 3/15 was based on the Austin Seven, this came about because BMW—which was known for motorcycles and airplanes at the time—purchased a factory in Eisenach, Germany. That particular factory had the license to produce the Austin Sevens for the German market.

According to Driving.ca, the latest version of the BMW roadster can go from 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds, which is a fairly quick time. It will feature a 3.0 liter turbocharged straight six engine producing 335 hp, so it has some decent power under the hood.


Via The Drive

While this deck does ooze style and class, it does have a bit of a marmite effect to it because of its unique styling. You're either going to really love this car or you are really going to hate it and find it very ugly. Though it should be noted that those types of vehicles are usually ones that end up becoming icons down the line. For everyone who finds the Volkswagen Beetle ugly, you'll find hundreds of other individuals who love them. The BMW Z4 can easily fall into that category. Will it be as popular as say a Beetle or even a more apt comparison of the Mazda MX-5? Probably not, but those cars both fit a very niche market and this one also has its own niche market as well. Also with the way it's styled, it may even be a car that one sees used in films in the years to come just because of how distinctive it is.  For whatever reason, this car feels like it could fit right in during a James Bond chase sequence with the villain of the film behind the wheel of it.

The original BMW roadster came as far out of left field as one can imagine. Given that, at the time, BMW was known for their airplanes and for things such as farm equipment and motorcycles—with the first motorbike by the company being produced in 1921—it was so out of left field, in fact, that the company took to German newspapers on July 9, 1921. The 3/15, as it was known, would not only be BMWs first car, it would also be its first convertible and in 1930 would become the manufacturers very first sports car. Something that BMW is renowned for as of today.

BMW DA-3 Wartburg via driving.ca

The 3/15 had early success when it was able to win the International Alpine Rally on its first attempt, which is staggering given the fact that it's a five-day endurance event in some of the toughest driving conditions imaginable. This success is what lead BMW to create the sportier 1930 version which was known as the DA-3 Wartburg. The Wartburg featured, for the time, a rather nice 748cc engine that produced a full 18 horsepower. While gutless by today's standards, that number would certainly have felt fast at the time. Because of the added additions to the DA-3 Wartburg, it was able to go a full 25 km/h faster than the 3/15. The Wartburg's top speed was 95 km/h.

It's funny to think, that BMWs modern roadster evolved out of such humble beginnings, a model that was designed not to be the fastest or the prettiest of cars out there but to be a reliable mode of transportation for individuals in the 1930s. The shift from BMW making engines for airplanes to cars came about because of the situations in Germany following the First World War. It's actually a great thing that this happened because the world would be down so many iconic and pretty cars that petrolheads lust after. While the modern interpretation of the roadster may not be to everyone's taste, it's nice to see that BMW will go back to their roots from time to time. It'd also be nice to see other manufacturers look back to their beginnings as well and make a few models that give nod to those vehicles of the past.


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