Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Motor Madness - BMW Z1

This is the first of a new series of posts, highlighting oddball, unusual, and cool cars.  In this post, we go back to the future with the first car in BMW's Z line of roadsters.  It had so many unusual features that it led to the Z moniker itself, for Zukunft - "future".

Picture via
Introduced at the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Z1's retractable doors and removable thermoplastic body panels made it the sensation of the show.  BMW quickly received 5,000 orders before manufacturing even began.

Picture via
The panels contributed nothing to the car's structural integrity, and were explicitly designed to be removable and swappable.  BMW encouraged customers to purchase a second set of panels in a different color, letting them change their car themselves.  BMW's claim that the swap would only take 40 minutes was considered to be rather a joke (if you weren't a Bavarian mechanic).

Alas, only 8,000 were built.  The Z1 used a stock 2.5L engine (from the 325 series) and the 9 second 0-60 made this somewhat less than the ultimate driving machine.  Only built between 1989 and 1991, they are quite rare and prices are correspondingly high.  While this isn't by any means a performance car, it's terribly quirky - it's as close as BMW ever came to the Jeep Wrangler's removable doors.  In Europe it's legal to drive with the doors retracted (it seems that it's not legal to do this here in the USA).

If you're interested in this unique motor, I recommend you click through to the excellent article at


drjim said...

"Wheeler Dealers" did their schtick on one of these last season.

I've never seen one, even out here in Kaliforniastan.

ASM826 said...

In N.C., as long as you have a rear view mirror on the driver side, you don't have to have doors.