The BMW Z1 was a revolutionary car from the late ’80s. It was the first BMW to feature a plastic exterior and the only car to every have vertical sliding doors. The following is a transcript of the video.
This classic car was once a vision for the future. This is the BMW Z1. It was a revolutionary car from the late ’80s. Even though it only pushed 170 horsepower it was packed full of features that owners would love. It handled well. It was made of lightweight material. But the most impressive feature? The vertical sliding doors. If you’ve never seen one of these on the road it’s because it was only sold in the European market. But the doors were truly ahead of their time. Nothing like it had been built before and nothing like it has been built since. It would have went down in history for the door innovation alone. But BMW didn’t stop there.
The Z1 is the direct result of a think tank BMW formed in 1985. They took 60 of their best engineers, technicians, and designers, and completely separated them from other development departments. Their goal was to bring their wildest creations to life. BMW hoped that in the process they would employ new materials, create different types of vehicle structure, and shorten development time.
The team had free rein to pursue any idea they could imagine. They created a car that was so aerodynamic it didn’t require wings or spoilers. A car that could handle winding roads exceptionally well with its low center of gravity. The first BMW to use a plastic exterior. A car that you could literally drive with the doors down. It was a completely new driving experience. It even had removable plastic paneling that owners could swap out, and change the colour of their car.
In just two years, the think tank already had a working concept car. It was the first roadster that BMW had made in 30 years. The successor to its famed 507 and people couldn’t get enough. BMW unveiled the Z1 at the 1987 Frankfurt International Motor Show and they were flooded with inquiries afterward. The concept car was so popular BMW decided to produce a limited run. They made 8,000 Z1’s from 1989 to 1991.
Because of the car’s unconventional characteristics, most of the Z1 was built by hand. When it was first released, the Z1’s sold for $US53,000. Today, they go for upwards of $US65,000. The Z1 had all the makings of a collectible car. Limited production, one-off features, not sold in the US, and a real joy to drive. Today the Z1 has a large following. Owners take pride in these rare cars. They love driving down winding roads with the doors down, often stating that it feels like a motorcycle on four wheels.
Would you get behind the wheel of this once-futuristic ride?This video was originally published on May 31, 2018.
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