Along with the BMW Z8 Roadster, the smaller and chic Z3 Roadster is the other BMW model that carried James Bond through-ought his dangerous and fascinating adventures. The BMW Z3 was featured 20 years ago in the Pierce Brosnan debut – GoldenEye.

Months before its world debut, BMW had provided EON productions with an example of the new roadster that they were readying for production. A 1996 BMW z3 Roadster was handed over to James Bond by Q, but not before some modifications were done to the car, in the form of things like missiles behind the headlights, Ejector Seat, Emergency Parachute Braking System and an All-points Radar.

Unfortunately the Roadster saw very little action in GoldenEye – it was used in the Caribbean to deliver Bond and Natalya to a small plane which would be their transport into Cuba. Regardless of the screen time, the Z3 is still often associated with the James Bond franchise and has done wonders for the Z3 sales.

But while we couldn’t ride in the Bond’s automobile, BMW has given us the next best thing – a mint 1999 Palmetto Green 2.8 BMW Z3. The tiny and fun roadster took us around Sintra, Portugal for a quick drive and a photoshoot.

The Z3 was BMW’s first mass produced mass market roadster, and was the first new BMW model to be manufactured in the United States. E36/7 refers to the roadster variant of the Z3 which was introduced in 1995. In the 1996 production run, more than 15,000 roadsters were sold out by the time the car was introduced. A facelift for the car was introduced in 2000, and the Z3 ended production in 2002 when it was replaced by the BMW Z4.

The exterior was designed by Joji Nagashima of the BMW Design Team in July 1992.

The BMW E36/7 Z3 entered production with the 1.8 and 1.9l engines while a 2.8l engine joined the lineup in 1996. Z3’s could be ordered with a hardtop roof which would snap on to mounting points.

Even to this date, the Z3 Roadster is not only regarded as the most successful open top ever made by BMW, but also one of the most fun, nimble and elegant cars to drive.

Images: BMW Group Classic