A spearhead in technology built for the road: the BMW Z1. With the roadster coming under increasing criticism in the ’60s and ’70s in terms of both safety and comfort, it took 29 years before the next roadster bearing the white-and-blue logo entered the market. This was the BMW Z1 launched – ahead of its time in technical terms – in 1988.

The body of the Z1 was a steel monocoque made of pressed and welded metal panels and with its plastic floor bonded into place. The entire outer skin was made up of plastic elements and panels likewise bolted on to the car, with the doors retracting on request into the high side-sills even while driving.

The 170-horsepower 2.5-litre straight-six power unit and most of the car’s axle components came from the 3 Series. With the engine being fitted behind the front axle, the BMW Z1 was a front mid-engined car, to use the technical term.

Acceleration from a standstill to 100 km/h came in less than eight seconds and the car’s top speed was 225 km/h or 140 mph.

Through its extremely harmonious combination of materials and technologies, the BMW Z1, weighing just 1,250 kg or 2,756 lb, was a truly dynamic roadster still thrilling today in terms of stiffness, its low centre of gravity, and stability in bends. The first units of the car built largely by hand were delivered to customers as of January 1989, the base price of DM 80,000.– ensuring lasting exclusivity. Production of the BMW Z1 finally ended in June 1991, after a production run of exactly 8,000 units.

Source: BMW press