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      Your path: Home >> Wall-E's World >> Model Cars >> 1997 BMW Z3
1997 BMW Z3
Manufacturer: Welly
Release dates Unknown
Catalog number: 42358
Date Purchased: December 2008
Date Completed May 2010
Number in collection: 42

The Z3 was the first roadster roadster manufactured by BMW snce the X1 from the early 1990's, and the 507 from the late 1950's before it. It was also the first BMW vehicle to be mass-produced in the USA. Some inital cost saving moves were not well received. While based on the then current 3-series (E36) platform, the lower-tech suspension from the previous E30 model was used. The 1.9 L (116 CID) 138 horsepower 4-cylinder engine was also considered underpowered in a car in its price class. In North American markets, it was soon replaced by a 2.8 L (171 CID) 6-cylnder engine. Other international markets had to make do with more powerful engines suited to their own regulations. the interior quality was also viewed by some as sub-par.

In addition to the roadster, a non-removable hardtop body style was added in 1999. While this body style added structural strength to the body, it gave the car the appearance of a small wagon, and was not well received. The Z3 ended pprodoction in 2002, when it was replaced by the Z4,

This replica represents an early version of the Z3, and is made by Welly. It features a spring-loaded, 'pull-back' type of motor at the rear wheels. It has nice exterior details with opening doors, and the wheels are in the style of the actual car. The interior has a good level of detail, with minimal intrusion of the pull-back motor into the area behind the front seats. Chassis detail is basic, with the exception of the area underneath the motor. The overall appearance reminds me of a Maisto Power Racer car, but with a much more realistic look. No model year is specified on the model, I just chose 1997 as this was the first model year of the production car.

I originally worked on this car long before I started photographing them. I like to include 'before' pictures, but found so few examples of this car that I deleted that section. The 'after' pictures were of my car, but taken while I was originally writing this page.

Click to zoom Click to zoom
What I started with. Actual car I used for reference.

Disassembly was done by removing screws, cutting the flared plastic on parts that were bonded by heat, and applying gentle pressure to separate the parts that weren't. A detailed list of the parts can be found here.

After disassembling the car, only paint and foil were used to add details.

The following is a summary of the changes I made:
  • Wheels and tires: Sanded the tread surface with 220 grit sandpaper to simulate wear. Painted inside of wheels Testors acrylic flat black.
  • Chassis: Painted entire piece Testors acrylic flat black. Highlighted the few moulded in details with Tamiya semi-gloss black, aluminum, and metallic gray. Applied Bare-Metal foil to the exhaust tips.
  • Interior: Painted the seats, door panel inserts, lower dashboard, roll bars, and an area behind the seats Testors flat red. Testors acrylic flat black was used on all other areas. Tamiya aluminum was used on the dashboard trim and console trim. Remaining interior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Windows: Painted rear view mirror detail on inside windshield Testors acrylic flat black, with Testors silver on the mirror face.
  • Body: Painted the entire inside of the body Testors acrylic flat black. Drew in body panel seams with a metal tipped 'quill' pen and black ink. Testors acrylic flat black was used on the hood vents, front bumper vents, area inside front grille, and outer edges of headlight lenses. Applied Bare-Metal foil to side view mirrors. Detailed tail light lenses with Tamiya clear orange and clear red. Remaining exterior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
Disassembled parts, before reassembly To the left is the car prior to reassembly.

The car was reassembled by reversing the procedure used to disassemble it. Some glue was used on parts that had been previously held in place by heated bonds.

Pictures of completed car (click to enlarge)

The proportions of the completed car look very close to the actual car. The table below shows how close they are.

Actual car 
(mm / in)
(mm / in)
Dimensions of actual car based on model scale
(mm / in)
Calculated scale based on model to actual car
Length 4026 / 158.5 117.9 / 4.64 4008 / 157.8 1:34
Wheelbase 2431 / 96.3 71.1 / 2.80 2416 / 95.1 1:34
Width 1692 / 66.6 51.2 / 2.0 1740 / 68.0 1:33
Height 1288 / 50.7 33.5 / 1.35 1140 / 45.7 1:38

I'm not sure what scale Welly intended this replica to be, as nothing is moulded into the chassis and I no longer have the original packaging to see if it was printed there. My calculations put the scale at about 1:34. All of the major dimensions seem pretty consistent to this scale, with the exception of height. I can't explain why it's off, but I suspect that it is due to this replica has the top in the down position.

This is the first time I've really looked at this car in any detail since completing it several years ago. I'm satisfied with the way it turned out, and made no changes other than giving a thorough cleaning before taking these pictures. Aside from the concessions made for the pull-back motor, I think that Welly did a nice job on this car. I seem to be one of a very small group that has any interest in it, however. I found very little information regarding any history of this replica, and very few pictures. This make me even happier that bought this one when I had the chance, as I can't recall seeing any in stores since that time.

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