When the BMW Z1 was first shown to the public, Z standing for Zunkuft, German for the future, the company had absolutely no intention of putting it into production. The company had generally shied away from two-seater roadsters since the V8 engined 507 – a very beautiful commercial failure for BMW. The Z1 was an instant hit with the public when images of sharp looking two-seater were leaked to the world’s press, but if BMW had had stuck to its initial plan, the roadster would never have gone beyond the planning stages. Its unusual appearance and clever doors stem from the fact it was simply acting as development mule for the E36 3-Series’ clever new Z-axle. After such a great reception for the concept, initial demand was so strong that 5,000 orders were placed, it became clear that there might actually be a market for such a creation, and BMW quickly moved to launch a limited edition run of the Z1 in 1987. Characterful and quirky are not words usually associated with BMWs, but the Z1 has both attributes in spades while also retaining BMW’s great reputation for performance and speed.
Take one look at this slightly odd-looking two-seater, and you can instantly see that the designers had a lot of fun putting it together, and that sense of enjoyment translated brilliantly to the driving experience. The Z1 is every bit as entertaining to drive as its more grown up siblings. The chassis was specially designed for the Z1 and features several innovative features: removable body panels; continuously zinc welded seams; a composite undertray; as well as the unusual dropped doors. A large amount of the mechanicals was borrowed from the E30 too, although a completely bespoke chassis and bodyshell caused the price of the Z1 to soar – pushing this 170bhp two-seater to around the same as a basic Porsche 911! This Z1 is an Ex one owner car with just ~12K kms on the clock and is in museum quality. Perhaps the best and lowest mileage example in existence.