The BMW Z1 actually came to be by accident. Pictures of the prototype
of this very good looking sports car were leaked to the press who then
made up a story about it. The BMW brass loved the story and interest in
the car took off. After a flurry of orders, interest in the car tailed off and
after just three years, Z1 production was stopped. Only 8,000 Z1s were
sold worldwide. This car has become a collectable Cult favorite and its
price has appreciated.
BMW had a winner with the Z1 as it has an exciting design and great looks.
Additionally, the chassis is sweet which translates into spot on handling.
The car’s only real weakness was its 170 hp did not make it move like its
looks demanded More on this below!
Some of the classy details of the car include the small low-set kidney grill
with body color surrounds, the raised sides of the bonnet (hood), the amber
colored screws in the front turn signals, the stubbly little side mirrors, and
its very good looking aerofoil tight black box rear end. It is hard to tell that
the car is 20 years old. In fact, some people are asking if the car is a new
model. This proves indeed that a good vehicle design never goes out of
When you prod the lock, the window and door start their disappearing act
by sliding out of sight into the sill. Thus, the Z1 is the only production car
in the world to have such a door mechanism. Its operation is amazing now
just as it was when the car was first launched. Regarding the doors,
onlookers’ jaws drop when they see someone getting into or out of the Z1.
The interior is a combination of items that add charm to the car. It has bug-
eyed instrument dials with a smaller tach that sticks out further than the other
dials. The electric mirror adjuster switch is located under the radio, and the
camo print seats look great and are very comfortable too.
The regular Z1 was a bit underpowered, therefore, a turbo was added to
the M20 6-cylinder engine. Power output jumped to 232 hp and 238 lb.-ft.
of torque. At 2300 lbs., the Z1 is quick on its feet! When the accelerator is
put down, the exhaust whine makes the driver hope that the law is not
nearby. The turbo engine’s performance is right where it should be to
match the car’s handling. Thus, the Z1can really fire into and out of
corners. The steering is quick and it allows the driver to really feel the
road. Thus the car is a blast to drive without the driver needing to overly
work the manual transmission or keep the engine’s revs in the upper
ranges all the time. Therefore, the turbo Z1 can be driven fast on a
twisty road or more moderately on a long trip and it is never out of
The BMW Z1 – it drives as good as it looks. And that is good indeed!
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price…” He
welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: