The quirky BMW Z1 remains as captivating as ever, thanks to its vertically sliding doors and removable plastic body panels. The fact that only 8,000 were ever made adds to the mystique of the diminutive roadster, especially since the car was not actually supposed to go into production. While the petite sports car was engineered with a folding soft top, there’s one heading to an auction organized by Artcurial with an ultra-rare removable hardtop.
Set to go under the hammer on February 2 at the Salon Rétromobile in Paris, the 1990 BMW Z1 is finished in Top Red, the most common color. However, there’s nothing common about the matching Wiesmann hardtop of which some 500 were ever made. The car happens to have an interesting history since it was never sold to a private customer and has just 65 miles (104 kilometers) on the odometer.
According to the listing, this car was assembled in October 1990, a time when the BMW Z1 was approaching the end of its life cycle—production ended in June 1991. Originally destined for France, it never reached its intended destination. Instead, a BMW dealer in Karlsruhe, Germany, registered the car in its name from 1994 until 1996. Fast forward to April 1999, and with a mere 47 miles (75 kilometers) on the clock, the Z1 underwent servicing at a shop in Oberdorf.
The two-seater Z1 was one of several interesting cars developed by BMW Technik GmbH, a think tank created back in 1985. All the roadsters were powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter gasoline engine with 170 hp and 222 Nm (164 lb-ft) of torque taken from the 3 Series (E30) in the 325i specification.
The inline-six M20 worked with a five-speed Getrag manual transmission to send power to the rear wheels. This arrangement enabled the BMW Z1 to reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.9 seconds and max out at 141 mph (227 km/h). Many other bits and pieces were taken from the E30 to keep costs low and speed up development. However, the multi-link rear suspension (Z-Axle) was developed for the Z1 and had two transverse control arms and one longitudinal control arm.
The auction house reckons that this nearly unused Z1 will command between €100,000 to €150,000, equivalent to $109,000 – $163,000 at current exchange rates.