If you think BMW’s recently launched VISION NEXT 100 Concept is weird, then clearly you’ve never heard of, or simply forgotten, the BMW Z18 Concept. What was essentially a jacked up BMW Z3, the BMW Z18 Concept was designed during a time when open-air rugged vehicles, such as the Jeep Wrangler, Chevy Tracker and Izuzu Amigo, were becoming very popular. So BMW wanted to put out a concept of a car that would allow for open-top motoring as well as some rugged off-roading in a car based on a sporty convertible. A genuinely crazy idea and one that was dismissed rather quickly back in the ’90s.
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However, it wouldn’t have gotten so much flak had it been introduced in America today. At the moment, US customers love convertible SUVs for some ridiculous reason. So much so that the Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet actually became a real thing, unfortunately. Most sane humans understood the absurdity of such a car and the Crosscabriolet’s time was short lived. However, Land Rover has just released a new Range Rover Evoque Convertible. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Will it sell? Also, yes. For some reason, Americans love convertible SUVs. It’s one of the reasons why the Wrangler is so popular. Admittedly, taking the roof and doors off of a Wrangler is cool. All the others, uncool.
So if BMW were to have released the Z18 Concept today, Americans would eat it up. It practically screams ‘Merica from its open top. Under the hood lied a 4.4 liter V8 engine that developed 355 hp and was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and it powered all four wheels. It also had this strange boat-like shape to it and was capable of driving through very serious amounts of water. It was a jacked up, go-anywhere, do-anything convertible coupe with a V8 engine and a manual transmission. It might as well have a Bald Eagle on the hood.
The BMW Z18 Concept was never actually put into production, which is a shame because it may be one of the most interesting concept cars, from any brand, of all time. If BMW were to introduce such an idea today, the amount of desire for one might actually get it made. If Nissan can sell a Crosscabriolet that has the off-roading capability of a Vespa and looks like a pig with a crew cut, then BMW can sell a Z18. By comparison to the other “off-road” convertibles, the BMW Z18 would be absolutely awesome and different and something that I think many people would buy. Including myself.