Bavarian Motor Works, commonly known as BMW, is classified under the category of one of the world’s most identifiable and esteemed auto manufacturers. Having proven popular throughout the years, the BMW soft top history began with the 3/15 DA-2 BMW in 1929 and continues to this day with the E88 convertible top.
As its first roadster, the BMW Z3 soft top debuted in 1996, the Z standing for Zukunft, German for future. Over the production span it has seen many upgrades to its original E36 platform; later versions having a more robust appearance. Its popularity skyrocketed after first being featured in the James Bond film Goldeneye and later in Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list for 1999. Other successful BMW convertible top roadster models include the 2002-2006 E52 and the 2003-2008 E85.
Considered its first modern era convertible, the E30 was produced from 1986-1993 as a convertible top model. The basic design of the soft top did not change throughout its production span. The primary upgrade was seen on the soft top frame. Initially, it was only available with a manual frame, in later years the power soft top frame was introduced. And unlike later models, the E30 convertible top was never equipped with a separate convertible headliner. When comparing other sports sedans in its category, the E30 is widely considered the standard which all others are measured against.
Proven to be another popular model, the BMW E36 convertible top was produced from 1994-1999. It was the direct successor to the earlier E30 convertible. The soft top was completely redesigned for the E36 and a separate convertible headliner was added. The headliner provided additional noise reduction in the cabin. The power soft top frame also provided more ease to raising and retracting the convertible top. Continuing to build on its tradition the next to follow in the new millennium were the 2000-2006 E46 and the later 2004-2010 E64.