Youngtimer roadster: BMW wanted to reinvent the car with the Z1

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With the Z1, BMW wanted to reinvent the car

Youngtimer roadster: BMW wanted to reinvent the car with the Z1-electric roadster quench your thirst

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In 1987 the BMW Z1 was presented at the IAA, two years later it went into series production.

Source: BMW

Youngtimer roadster: BMW wanted to reinvent the car with the Z1-electric roadster quench your thirst

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Its retractable doors, which opened the roadster more than almost any other car, were famous.

Source: BMW

Youngtimer roadster: BMW wanted to reinvent the car with the Z1-reinvent

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But there was much more that was innovative, such as the plastic skin over the steel skeleton.

Source: BMW

Youngtimer roadster: BMW wanted to reinvent the car with the Z1-roadster

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Today the Z1 has long been a collector’s item. You will hardly find anything below 20,000 euros.

Source: BMW

25 years ago, the Bavarian manufacturer presented the public with an open two-seater with a plastic cover – and with entrances like the world had never seen before.

E.r was built because it worked. We’re talking about the Z1 model, with which BMW reinterpreted the roadster theme at the end of the 1980s: optically radical, technically ambitious and generally with the courage to fundamentally rethink things. In 1987, the Z1 caused enthusiasm at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, and series production began two years later.

BMW had no trouble getting a limited series of 8000 copies to the man and that despite a price that was as ambitious as the car itself: The Z1 cost 85,000 marks, a lot of money for a two-seater, shorter than the current one VW Golf. And with 170 hp, it is quite well motorized, but by no means outstanding considering the price.

A car from BMW’s future workshop

But the buyers probably honored the fact that BMW had set no limits for its developers in the construction and design of the Z1. Because when it was drawn, it was by no means clear that the roadster would ever go into series production.

It was the debut of BMW Technik GmbH, a think tank that the manufacturer founded to test production concepts for the future: new materials, innovative shapes and technology, shorter development times.

The employees at Technik GmbH impressively demonstrated that the latter was possible. Just one year after the project planning, the prototype of the Z1 was on its wheels – even though BMW technology had achieved almost every corporate goal with grandeur: The Z1 had a skin made of several plastics over a skeleton made of sheet steel, its angular wedge shape made it an eye-catcher.

The doors disappeared into the sill

For the engine, the 2.5-liter in-line six-cylinder with 170 hp, which also powered the BMW 325i, had been chosen. But it was moved close to the driver and behind the front axle, as a so-called "Front mid-engine" his position ensured good balance and extremely agile handling.

The rear axle also played its part in the latter, a completely new design that went straight from the Z1 to the following generations of the BMW 3 Series. However, what attracted the most attention was an optical gimmick with which BMW Technik GmbH gave its first product a real unique selling point. The two doors could be completely lowered into the massive rocker panel using a toothed belt.

The Z1 could even be driven with recessed doors and the TuV gave its blessing. A more open car was hardly conceivable, the buyers loved the appearance on the ice cream parlor mile (and hated the repair costs if the mechanics failed at some point).

Prices have been rising for years

The Z1 was even allowed to become a BMW Art Car decorated by artists, A. R. Penck provided a red copy with its characteristic ornaments and stick figures. Then in 1991 the roadster was over, four years later the much simpler Z3 took over its role in BMW’s product portfolio. The original, however, never became a cheap car in its career.

It rolled off the assembly line straight to the lovers’ market without any intermediate steps; prices have been rising for years. If you want to buy a used Z1 today, you should have between 20,000 and 30,000 euros left over, or another 10,000 more for really good specimens. After all, a car that the designers were able to use so uninhibitedly to create it themselves can rarely be found on the road.

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