I only lived through about five minutes of the 1980s, however there’s always been something about the ’80s that calls to me. I once heard that the ’80s was a decade that was unapologetically itself and that’s incredibly true. Everything about the ’80s was so very ‘80s. And that goes for the cars, which I adore because so many of them were just silly and I love ’80s car design. In this new video, Doug DeMuro lists his 12 favorite cars from the silliest decade in automotive history and two BMWs make the list.
The first BMW on the list is one that just barely makes it because, like myself, it debuted in 1989—the BMW Z1. The Z1 is easily one of the silliest cars BMW ever made. It was as if BMW engineers came up with it during a night of heavy drinking and drew it up on a napkin, and I mean that in the best way possible. The Z1 is the type of car that you make when you’re trying to come up with the most fun idea possible. It’s a two-seat convertible roadster with doors that slide down into the body and can be kept down while driving, like a Bavarian Jeep Wrangler. It also had plastic body panels that could be removed with nothing but hand tools and swapped for different colored panels, changing the entire color of the car in just a day.
Under its funky wedge-shaped body was essentially an E30 325i. So in addition to looking fun and being a roadster with retractable doors, it had a wonderful straight-six and five-speed manual combination, making it a blast to drive. The BMW Z1 is a car that, despite having debuted at the very tail end of the ’80s, fit its decade perfectly.
The next car on the list is the exact opposite—the E30 M3. Again, another car that debuted late in the 1980s but this time was very serious. The E30 M3 was a homologation race car, so BMW could catch Mercedes’ incredible 190E in DTM racing, and it was a car that Germans took very seriously. It still looks awesome today and is still regarded by many as the finest driving BMW in history but it certainly lacks the silly charm of a car like the Z1.
As someone who loves the ’80s, it’s hard to argue with Doug’s list, although I certainly would have had a few different cars on there. The E28 M5 are two that I can think of off the top of my head Mercedes R129 SL-Class. However, I do love the Z1 inclusion and, if given the choice between the Z1 and E30, I’d take the E30 M3 for one great drive through a canyon road but I’d own the Z1. What can I say, I love absurd ’80s cars.