All You Want to Know About the BMW M Z3 V12 Prototype


After breaking the photo story on the BMW M division's one-off, V12-powered Z3 prototype earlier this week, we can now share with you some interesting details surrounding its creation, though as you will soon find out, we may need the help of our German speaking readers.

We'll get straight to the point and let you know what Matthew Russell, Product and Technology Communications Manager for BMW North America, told Carscoop about the Z3 M V12 after he did some digging of his own:

"The car was built in 1999 and was the proof that all engine sizes of the time fit in the roadster," said Russell. "It was shown only once: in August 1999 to the German car magazine Autozeitung."

As we rightly assumed, the ultimate M model of the Z3 roadster series borrowed BMW's M73 5.4-liter V12 engine from the E38 750i/iL sedans and E38 850Ci coupe of the mid-1990s to early 2000s.

The 12-cylinder engine was rated at 322hp (326PS) at 5,000 rpm and 490Nm (361 lb·ft) at 3,900 rpm, and was linked to a 6-speed manual gearbox driving the rear wheels.

According to the 1999 article from Autozeitung, the Z3 M V12 was capable of accelerating from standstill to 100km/h (62mph) in 5.5 seconds, to 1,000m (0.62 miles) in 24.4 seconds, and reach a top speed of 263 km/h (163mph).

By comparison, the production Z3 M Roadster model sported an M3-sourced 3.2-liter naturally aspirated straight-six delivering 321hp (325PS) and 353 Nm (261 lb·ft) in EU specification.

We also learn that the Z3 M Roadster V12 was fitted with 17-inch wheels in 225/45 tires up front and 245/40 at the back and that it tipped the scales at a hefty 1,400kg (3,086 pounds).

As mentioned in the beginning of our story, we’d appreciate it if any of our German-speaking readers could provide a translation of the main points mentioned in the magazine article.

Photo Scan Credits: Autozeitung




Redvec said... »August 10, 2012

AutoZeitung mentions that they drove it on a BMW testcourse near Munich during a solar eclipse on August 11th 1999. It was a rainy day so they had to stopp snapping or driving the car several times.
They say that the project was commissioned by Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, the head of drivetrain development  to compare different engine configurations and just to see if it was possible at all!
It took 3 engineers about 3 month to convert an arctic blue M Roadster into this orange beast.
They took the gearbox from a 850 ci
They had to modify the radiator, oilpump, oilpan, the exaust manifold, some other details and stiffened the springrates.
The car rather wants to go sideways through turns which doesn't make sense but sure is a lot of fun!
It has wheelspin from first through third gear and the engine produces 400Nm. already at 1000 rpm.

911 said... »August 10, 2012

There's not very much additional information in the text. Well they compare it to the M Roadster and the big difference seems to be (what a surprise) that there's lots of power at lower rpm, wheelspin up to third gear. The engine, which seems to be same as in a Rolls Royce of that time, of course generally doesn't rev as high.

An interesting fact is, that the original development requirements were only to provide space for a 4-cylinder, so a 6-cylinder should already be too big for the Z3! (Yeah I know, that a V12 isn't longer than a R6 ;) )

The magazine also offers a alternative to this car, since it's a one-off and it wouldn't be sold: A engine conversion by Hartge, fitting a 4.7l V8 into the Z3.

Christopher Lacko said... »August 10, 2012

I know it was initially only offered in a 4-cyl... but i'm sure they planned from the start to get the inline 6-cylinders in there... these cars have pretty huge engine bays, even with the 3.0L 6 there is plenty of space (though i, am still a little surprised they got a 12cyl in there so neatly!)

Hash_kam said... »August 11, 2012

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Yavor Trassiev said... »August 12, 2012

Soo 200kg more for 1 more PS and 100 more NM. They could have just as well put a diesel in there with the same figures but better fuel economy. 

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