BMW M Unearths Mighty Z3 V12 Prototype


Over the years, BMW and its various subsidiaries and sub-brands such as the BMW Technik GmbH (currently known as BMW Forschung und Technik, or Research and Technology) and M GmbH, have quietly developed an array of prototype models that never saw the light of day when new, but which are gradually coming out of hiding.

Among the many secret development prototypes that have been released to the public eyes are the M8 Coupe, 850Ci Convertible, E30 M3 Pickup Truck, E36 M3 Compact, E46 M3 Touring, E34 M5 Two-Door Cabriolet, Z1 Coupe and Z18 Buggy - just to mention a few.

Today, BMW's fabled M GmbH division dropped three photos of an M Roadster prototype of the Z3 series powered by a V12 engine. The company doesn't provide any information other than that the study was built "years ago".

Given that the Z3 series was sold from 1996 to 2002, it’s very likely that the V12 shoehorned under the hood of the roadster is based on BMW's M73 5.4-liter engine used on the E38 750i/iL sedans and E38 850Ci coupe of the mid-1990s to early 2000s and which was rated at 322hp (326PS) and 490Nm (361 lb·ft).

At the time, the fastest Z3 model was the production M Roadster fitted with the E46 M3's 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six delivering 321hp (325PS) and 353 Nm (261 lb·ft) in EU specification (315hp in North American trim).

Photo Credits: BMW M



Soren Spicknall said... »August 06, 2012

The increase in torque is great, but if you double the cylinder count and only get one more horsepower out of it then the power/weight ratio is probably much better on the six.

Spamism said... »August 06, 2012

All of which is hindered by the increase in weight.

So, in effect, the world was better of without a V12 Z3.

Kaveh said... »August 06, 2012

Amazing it fits, must be a torque monster

Kaveh said... »August 06, 2012

You don't get it

Spamism said... »August 06, 2012

What's there to get? A V12 Z3 would have been a horrible idea.


Hajime1990 said... »August 06, 2012

So BMWs hidden the V16 Rolls and the V12 Z3. Whats next? a V8 Isetta?

Stuart Shone said... »August 07, 2012

what an awesome beast.........

Really! said... »August 07, 2012

 Torque is what drives a vehicle, HP is what carries it.  Acceleration would have been greatly enhanced.

Really! said... »August 07, 2012

 The length of the V-12 is about the same as the inline Six, the width is a consideration.

The real issues with a conversion from an inline engine to a 'V' configured engine is exhaust, oil sump location, and reliably putting the additional power to the ground.  With modern engines, electronic interfaces can be a hurdle especially in a case where the engine is from a different manufacturer.

Really! said... »August 08, 2012

 With the additional weight of the six, coupled with the E-30 rear suspension, the Z3 was a poser, trip car in reality.  It never was a contender as a sports car, so maybe some fun could have been had with the V-12 acceleration.

 If you want a Z3 to hit the apexes with, grab a 4-cyl. model and upgrade the suspension. 

Dave said... »August 09, 2012

This article would be great if it wasn't ripped straight from the Top Gear website almost word for word.

JohnCarscoop said... »August 09, 2012

Funny that you should say that because Carscoop was the first website to post/write this story two days before TopGear - 6/8 vs 8/8. You can check the html address on Top Gear, or perhaps I can  share the email we sent to a BMW spokesman on August 6 asking for additional info on the car.

So Dave, I believe it's the other way around actually...

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