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Coulda Been: The BMW Z3 V12 Prototype Photo:
BMW Z3 Prototype Revealed Photo:
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BMW Z4 sDrive35is (11/2009) Photo: tmr
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bmw_z3_v12_prototype_03 Photo: tmr
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BMW Z4 M Sport package (11/2009) Photo: tmr
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BMW Z4 M Sport package (11/2009) Photo: tmr
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BMW Z4 sDrive35is, Cockpit (11/2009) Photo: tmr
 
 
Peter Anderson | Aug, 09 2012 | 1 Comment

BMW's M division has turned up a special one-off prototype that even the carmaker itself can't account for: an orange Z3 with a V12 crammed into its engine bay.

The photos, posted on the brand's Facebook page this week, were accompanied by a short message: "We don't know why a V12 engine was built into a BMW Z3 years ago, but it still looks impressive, doesn't it?"

Impressive engineering indeed. The installation is so clean that it might almost be the favoured straight-six nestled under the roadster's clamshell bonnet.

Enthusiast site BMW Blog believes the car to be a prototype study to test production feasability - but like the V16 7 Series, M 3 Series Compact or E34 M5 Convertible, it went no further.

Others have suggested it was a 'skunkworks' project, such as the E90-based M3 Ute. US site Autoguide speculated that the engine is the M73 5.4 litre V12 from an old BMW 750i.

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The same Z3 chassis did spawn the E36 BMW M Roadster and Coupe pair, which in Europe packed a 236kW six versus the 240kW of the much heavier and thirstier V12.

Codenamed E36/7, the Z3 roadster went on sale in 1996 and sold until 2002 before being replaced by the Z4.

It was BMW's first mass-market roadster and the first BMW to be assembled in BMW's South Carolina plant.

When first released, it had a 1.9 litre four cylinder under the bonnet, later joined by a 2.8 litre straight six and eventually M's howling six.

The V12 could be a glimpse into what might have been, but we're certain it doesn't have the requisite 50:50 weight distribution favoured by M.

(Nice drag car though.)

 
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It will be similar to the sample below.