BMWBLOG Classic Test Drive: BMW Z1

Test Drives | August 30th, 2010 by 11
bmw-z1-16

BMW’s Z1 is a classic roadster that embodies the spirit of BMW design quite well. It is bold, innovative, and utterly different. With top down …

BMW’s Z1 is a classic roadster that embodies the spirit of BMW design quite well. It is bold, innovative, and utterly different.

With top down and doors down (open?) we jumped in to get a better feel for this modern classic. The proud owner of this pristine specimen was all to eager to get us behind the wheel. In their words, “we feel this car is too special not to share,” “just be careful how you get in.”

After a ride in the M1 Procar earlier that morning, getting into the Z1 was a relative breeze, but we can see why this door layout is not found on your standard 5 series. Hip replacement lawsuits would be flooding Munich’s inbox – perhaps the designers had a younger, more open minded audience in mind when they penned this car; or perhaps they just wanted to stand alone.

BMWBLOG Classic Test Drive: BMW Z1

Either way, the Z1’s unique character and proven E30 underpinnings combine in a superb driving experience. Powered by a 2.5 Liter I-6 ‘M20’ engine, we found the Z1 embodied much of the E30’s dynamics.

We did not push the Z1 at all, but rather savored it’s rich heritage and grace. Driving along a twisty back road under a canopy of trees, the open air experience was refreshing! An added sensation of speed is present as you see the road flying by just past your left knee. In some ways therefore, the Z1 is more reminiscent of a motorcycle than any other car we’ve driven. When it comes to sensory gratification, that’s high praise indeed.

BMWBLOG Classic Test Drive: BMW Z1

For a more in-depth look and the Z1’s history and construction, please click here.

  • Laszlo

    as a proud owner of one BMW Z1 I can its true ! Its as close to a motorcycle as it can with the doors down.
    Handling is perfect and quite extraordinary considering its age. Sure its not a fire breather monster like today’s supercar’s but its quick enough to make you smile. The Z1 was/is a different kind of driving experience, not about speed but style and open air feeling. No other car will make your hair go up that much :-)

    • Laszlo

      looks like the seats have been reupholstered on this one. Originally the Z1 came with a special suede material and sort of a camouflaged colors on the seats. Hard to clean and keep in pristine shape after 20 years, but mine is still about 8.5 out of 10.
      The whole interior is leather, no plastic, no fake wood, no frills, just what a driver really needs. No picture here, but even the speedometer and rpm gauge is in a motorcycle style..

      • bob

        Laszlo, Have you ever had any ‘issues’ with the: Door mechanisms?; Fuel filler door?; and/or Exhaust silencer replacement?

        • Laszlo

          yes and no and yes.
          Door mechanism failed on passenger side due to a broken belt. Got the belt and reassembled everything to factory spec and no issue since. Belt was 90usd from a bmw dealer in the us and took them 5 weeks to get.
          The fuel filler door, no issues, except that if I fill the tank up to the top, full tank, then I smell gas odor. could not find leak yet, but if I fill it up to 7/8 then no smell. Could be a vapor reservoir or hose… not an issue as long as the almost full tank method can solve this.
          The exhaust silencer is still pretty good but has some surface rust so I will remove the muffler before winter sleeping time and try to remove surface rust, clean the outside and paint with a heat resistant paint.
          No holes or anything, so absolutely no welding is required.
          The driver door is giving me trouble now, the outside opening/closing button does not work, only inside. I need to adjust the rod that operates the micro-switch. More trouble to get to it then the actual work so I put it off in a 98F heat this summer. Cooler weather will see me working on these issues. I have had the Z1 since 2000 and had put about 5k miles on it. Not exactly daily driver, but brings a smile to my face every time.
          Last spring I changed all suspension bushings, shocks and all rubber parts in the steering/suspension – front and rear. Made a huge difference, much better handling, tight and solid feel just like a proper BMW should be. The car is based on the E30 325i so hard pieces are not expensive. Special items such as door pieces and interior/exterior could be very expensive, but sometimes its surprisingly reasonable.
          as far as the black leather seat… must have been really rare as all the Z1 I have ever seen (approx 50+) had the camouflaged suede leather seats.
          I have heard a few people who had it redone in normal leather or some who removed the seat and put a recaro seat in place, put a set of 17″ wheels, big brake kits, etc.
          I did not make any modifications, no 17 or 18″ wheels, all bone stock and still very enjoyable !

          I’m a proud owner and as time permits I show the car in local and close by car shows.

          2 years ago I was at Hilton head Island for 3 days, lots of fun, lots of awesome cars.

          • bob

            Thanks, nice to hear a first-hand account…

  • Shawn

    Very astute Laszlo! Good of you to notice the seats. As it turns out they are in fact factory original black leather, but as the owner pointed out, this was rare for the car as most came with the camouflaged looking leather.

    You should be proud of your Z1! It’s a beautiful car.

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