We left you with a Jaguar, on the Versilia seafront, between beautiful villas, rich in history and trendy pubs. Special characteristic of Versilia’s territory is the sea close proximity to the hills and the Apuan Alps. Today we decide to do a short outing on those hills and for this occasion we won’t use a five meters car but a very fast and fascinating spider. The protagonist of today is not a classic car, it’s definitely an “instant classic”, it’s the BMW Z3.
Born in the mid-nineties, the first model was released in 1995, it goes to fill the void left by the futuristic Z1, withdrawn from the market in 1991 and produced in only 8000 pieces. The letter “Z” stands for “zukunft” which is the german word for “future”. BMW uses this letter to call all models with only two seats. It will be produced in the new plant in Spartanburg, in the USA. Infact, most of the components’ materials are made in the U.S.A, while motors and electronics are realized in Munich.
In some mechanical parts such as chassis and suspensions, it’s closely related to the series E36.
About suspensions, we should emphasize a particular feature: because of the lack of space at the rear the old pattern of E30 was mounted, a solution that has made it too sensitive to the oversteer with more powerfull engines.
At the moment of the launch, it was available with a 1.8 eight-valve 1.9 115HP and with a sixteen-valve 140HP. In 1997 it was introduced the six-cylinder 2.8 and 3.2 of 192HP to 321HP M. 1998 is instead the year of the introduction of the particular coupé, with tailgate. In 1999 it was heavily revised, becoming available the 1.9 eight-valve engine of this photo shoot, a 2.0 six-cylinder (replaced shortly after by the 2.2 six-cylinder), a 2.8 six-cylinder (replaced shortly after with the six-cylinder 3.0) and the 3.2M.
Aesthetically, internal details, optical groups and the rear in particular are changed and the dimensions are slightly increased with the use of wider wheel arches. In 2002 the last Z3 was produced, never put on the road, it has been preserved in a museum. We meet in the morning with our friend Alessandro, the owner of this beautiful car.
He cares so much since his eighteenth bithday. He tells us that it’s his first and only car from about ten years and thanks to its always actual design he still doesn’t feel the need to switch to something more modern. Presentations have been made, we move towards Massarosa, a small town between Lucca and Viareggio, from which starts part of the way that we show you, up to about 15 minutes in Pieve a Elici, a small hillside village, excellent to enjoy a fantastic sunset after a day at the beach in Versilia.
On board this spider makes you feel a James Bond. Certainly you remember that in GoldenEye ( 1995) the well-known secret agent uses a Z3, made available by BMW precisely with the purpose of launching it on the market.
Now the fun begins, in the first few corners of this beautiful hilly street, which is not certainly a wide street as in the Chianti area, but fortunately the compact size of the Z3 makes us feel at ease.
Going up, it begins a series of hairpin bends where the view is becoming more panoramic. The view includes on our left Pisa and Livorno, in the front the lake of Massaciuccoli, Viareggio and the sea. Talking about pure performance, the quiet four-cylinder 1.9 8-valve engine that equips our Z3, it’s certainly the weak point of this car.
With its 118 HP is one of the less powerful engines who mounted the series Z3. Do not expect then drifts out of corners, there is absolutely no danger, together also with the extremely wide tires on the rear axle. We speak of 17-inch wheels with 245 (by the way, they are beautiful, but we will talk more exstensively about that later), the same measure that comes standard with the M version of 321HP.
The steering is very precise, there are currently commands more direct, however we appreciate the contact that manages to convey with the road, being equipped with hydraulic booster and not electric.
The soul of this Z3, equipped with a small 1.9 is therefore not the one of a sporty car to drive clenching a knife between one’s teeth, for that, they exist the most powerful 6-cylinder engines and the M model.
The model presented in this photo shoot is appreciated rather for the sensation of contact with the road, enjoying the scenery as you can do on this beautiful stretch of road. One has the feeling of sitting almost on the road: driver and passenger sit virtually on the rear axle.
Set aside the idea of street racing, the eight-valve four-cylinder engine can be appreciated at low and medium engine speeds, the 118HP are delivered at 5500 rpm, surely unnecessary to go further, despite being able to run up to 6200 rpm.
We are arrived in Pieve a Elici. Situated in a panoramic position and surrounded by a large green lawn, is considered one of the most important Versilia religious complexes and a great example of Romanesque art.
According to tradition, the church dates back to about the fifth century, an era in which the ‘external appearance was not what we see today, it was in fact composed of four simple walls without aisles. L ‘expansion that took place in the thirteenth century gave it the appearance of today. We do not know who was the builder who took charge of this project.
The bell tower is also fascinating with its battlements Ghibellines. Builded initially as a watchtower to the sea, that at that time was almost at the foot of the hill, it was transformed into a bell tower in the twelfth century. In this meadow full of history we pay attention to the details of the beautiful Z3, of a real effect in this blacksapphire color.
Certainly difficult to capture in the photos, but not so much for the experience of Edoardo and Marco who enjoy to capture the soft shapes and the different details that gives us this roadster. The beautiful curved wide rear that embraces the large special BBS wheels is really amazing.
Once the great shooting is finished, it’s time to say goodbye, we just have to take a last look at the landscape that can be seen from the church and continue down from where we came.
By: Leonardo Stefani, Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi, Marco Dellisanti
– 4 cylinders, 1895 cm3 petrol engine
– Power: 118 CV
– Torque di 180 Nm
– 5 speeds gear
– Maximum speed 196 Km/h
– 0/100 km/h in 10.4 seconds