The final chapter of the BMW Z story will be released next year when the Z4 M40i with a six-speed manual gearbox will go on sale. Looking back at the origins of the Z, it all started in the late 1980s with the Z1. Only 8,000 cars were ever made, and this mint-condition example is part of BMW UK’s historic fleet, alongside an M5 30 Jahre Edition (F10) and an M5 (E60). The German luxury brand sold the Z1 with several paint choices, but it is believed that only 2,041 examples got this UR Green Metallic color. This pristine example has a little over 33,000 miles (over 53,100 kilometers) on the clock and oozes style from every angle. Although BMW UK owns this car, we’re looking at a left-hand-drive example. In fact, all Z1s had an LHD layout.
Largely assembled by hand, the Z1 borrowed a lot of the hardware from the 3 Series E30 but there was one major novelty. The engineers created a multi-link rear suspension (Z-Axle) with two transverse control arms and one longitudinal control arm. Of course, the roadster’s party piece was its vertically sliding doors that we reckon will never be uncool. Factor in the plastic body panels and you end up with one of the quirkiest BMWs ever.
At the heart of all Z1s was the 3 Series E30’s powertrain from the 325i, a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter gasoline engine with 170 hp and 222 Nm (164 lb-ft) of torque. Routed to the rear axle via a five-speed Getrag manual gearbox also taken from the 325i, the inline-six M20 engine helped the tiny sports car hit 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.9 seconds. Flat out, it reached a respectable 141 mph (227 km/h).
Lest we forget the Z1 was developed by BMW Technik GmbH. Known internally as ZT, it was a think tank of around 60 people, and they came up with the idea for the Z1 in just six months. The intent wasn’t necessarily to create a production car, but its impressive execution prompted the higher-ups to green-light the project for a limited series.
BMW Technik GmbH was founded in early 1985 and officially announced its first product in August 1986. A year later, BMW revealed plans to show the Z1 concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 1987. Legend has it that someone from a German car magazine wanted to buy the Reed Green showcar for DM 150,000 but BMW refused to sell it. At that time, the company only had 10 test vehicles, each valued at two million German marks. The Z1 finally went into production in early 1989 and it cost DM 80,000 in its domestic market. The last car was built in June 1991.
Source: BMW UK