With the recent news of the BMW launching a Spyder variant of its i8 hybrid sports car, we though it would be a good idea to take a look at some of BMW’s best topless cars.
Having a convertible is generally not very accepted among the enthusiast crowd. The usual reasoning for this is that convertibles are heavier, slower and sloppier than their coupe counterparts. Removing the roof worsens torsional rigidity in the chassis, this making the car a bit sloppier in the handling. To counteract some of that sloppiness, automakers typically fit structural braces in the chassis to tighten things up. This makes them heavier, therefore slower. So convertibles aren’t very well liked by car enthusiasts.
However, there is a plus side to them. Removing the roof allows you to hear more of the engine and exhaust and allows you to experience the car a little bit more. Having a convertible can be fun, so long as it’s done properly. The BMW i8 should be one of the good ones. Its carbon fiber structure means that it won’t lose any rigidity when losing the roof, much like the McLaren 650s Spider. And being that the BMW i8 is technically mid-engined, losing the roof will allow you to hear all of its aural goodness. You’d be surprised how good that little three-banger sounds and it should sound even better with the roof off. Plus, it’s going to look flipping fantastic, won’t it?
But the BMW i8 won’t be the first great convertible to come from Bavaria. In fact, BMW has made a ton of great convertibles over the years. So in light of BMW creating the i8 Spyder, let’s take a look at some of the other great ones.
The BMW Z8 will go down in history as one of BMW’s best looking cars. Designed by Henrik Fisker, the Z8 looks like a proper classic sports car. It looks as if it were a ’50s car designer’s vision of the future. It has all of the classic car proportions and looks absolutely fantastic with the roof down. Plus, without the top, you could hear all of the 4.9 liter V8’s music. That’s one of BMW’s best sounding engines and when you can hear all of it out of such a good looking car, that’s when you know you have something special. If only the Z8 handled a bit better.
4. F12 BMW M6
The F12 BMW M6 convertible is genuinely one of BMW’s best. The current 6 Series gets a bit of a bad rep for not being the purest of handling BMWs, but that’s always struck me as an unfair assessment of the 6 Series, especially the M6. The M6 is supposed to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG for monster grand-touring convertible dominance. And it does that perfectly. It looks absolutely fantastic with the rood down, much better than the SL63 for sure, and has an excellent engine note. It’s also incredibly fast and handles well, despite its size. If you think about it as more of an extremely capable grand tourer and not an all-out M performance car, the M6 convertible begins to make a lot more sense. And when thinking of it that way, it becomes one of the most attractive BMW convertibles of all time.
The E46 is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, M3 ever made. It’s fast, incredibly fun to drive and it looks fantastic. The E46 M3 convertible is not much different. The only real difference between the coupe and convertible is the fact that the ‘vert is a bit worse in the twisty bits. Back in the E46’s time, convertibles were much harder to make lightweight and dynamic than they are today. So there was actually quite a bit of a handling penalty for the E46 M3 convertible over the coupe. However, the only times you’ll really notice the handling difference is either at the track or on an extremely twisty road. But if you just tone things down a little bit, drive at maybe six or seven tenths instead of ten tenths, you’ll get to enjoy the car’s pure steering, wonderful manual gearshift and that incredible 3.2 liter I6 exhaust note un-muffled by a roof. Have you heard the E46 M3’s exhaust note? If you haven’t you’re missing out on one of the finer things in life.
2. BMW Z3
You know a car is great when Bond drives it and Pierce Brosnan had a Z3 when portraying the famous British spy in the film Goldeneye. The BMW Z3 is one of the better small convertibles of all time. Based on the E36 chassis, the Z3 was incredibly small, lightweight and, more importantly, fun. It put fun and dynamics over all else, even looks. While the Z3 wasn’t the best looking car, or even BMW, of its generation, it was certainly one of the most fun. A suite of engines were offered, including the excellent 2.8 liter I6 engine from the E36 328i and the even more incredible 3.0 liter I6 engine in the Z3M. Paired with a five-speed manual, the Z3 and Z3M roadster were some of the most fun cars of the ’90s and easily one of BMW’s best convertibles. It also spawned the Z model line for BMW, so it’s quite an important car in BMW’s history. But there is one BMW convertible that’s better.
1. BMW 507
There’s really no debate here, is there? The BMW 507 is not only one of BMW’s best looking car of all time, but one of the best overall looking cars of all time. It’s simply gorgeous and timeless. Powered by a 3.2 liter V8, that developed 148 hp, mated to a four-speed manual, the BMW 507 was one of the coolest cars of its time. Unfortunately, the BMW 507 was too expensive to make and too expensive to buy, so it didn’t last very long and almost bankrupt BMW. It also didn’t sell very well and only a handful of very wealthy people bought them. Elvis Presley famously owned one that’s being restored by BMW. But because of its rarity, beauty and the fact that it was pretty much doomed from its inception makes it one of the most desirable BMWs of all time. So it must be the best convertible BMW’s ever made.
Obviously, these are just our top five. But let us know which BMW convertibles you think are best.