FROM DIXI TO Z4
Much like its latest roadster offering, the new Z4 to be unveiled this month, BMW’s first-ever Roadster was a collaborative effort with another motor manufacturer.
You see, in the latter 1920s BMW started its car production by building the Austin Seven (known as the Dixi or 3/15 in BMW-speak) under licence, and in 1930 the German manufacturer introduced the 3/15 DA-3 Wartburg, the first sports roadster version of the original 3/15, and thus also BMW’s first sports car.
The 3/15 was followed by Munich’s first bespoke roadster, the 315/1, in 1934, and three years later by the revered 328, of which only 464 were produced. In 1955 the attractive 507, developed specifically for the US market, was unveiled. While delectable (Elvis Presley owned two) it was too expensive, and only 252 were built.
It took 29 years before the next roadster bearing the white-and-blue logo – the classic Z1 – entered the market in 1988. It proved to be a breakthrough model, and in response BMW launched the game-changing Z3 in 1995, followed by the limited numbers James Bond Z8 and the Z3’s successor, the Z4 in 2002. Remarkably, the revised E89 Z4, released in 2009, was the first BMW vehicle designed entirely by a team of female designers.
It is also interesting that BMW opted to call its open-top i8 a roadster, as strictly speaking it does not follow the traditional Munich roadster layout… Now the sixth generation Z-car from BMW, the G29 Z4 developed in conjunction with Toyota and sharing its platform with the Supra Coupe, is ready for launch.