The Z1 was a largely hand built car and was only made in small numbers around the late eighties. The car was first shown at the 1987 Fankfurt Motor Show. Initial construction was performed by Baur who made around 8000. The Z1 was a very expensive car for it's time.


The car had many plastic body panels and used some E30 components. It was said you could quickly change colour by having another set of plastic body parts, not quite true. It was one of the first BMWs to have multi-link rear suspension due to the excellent Z axle.

The coolest feature was without doubt the doors. These drop down into the car's sills (rockers for you Americans) and as they drop the windows lower. This is just pure sex to watch and must be the ultimate posing gizmo.

There was only one Z1 model. Alas all Z1s are left hand drive. A right hand drive conversion is probably not feasible due to the custom made dashboard. I want to cry now... Griffin made a few dozen right hand drive cars bu cutting the dash into five parts to make a new mold! They also made it up to a 2.7 using the eta block.


The gorgeous Z1, a rare sight.


All Z1s had these unique 7 spoke alloys.


Many have said that the 170bhp 2.5 M20 engine was too little power for a car with such a good chasis. Several tuners, such as Hartge, offer upgrades to the M20 however. Kellners have fitted M3 euro engines and other such exotics to Z1s if your feeling rich.

Model Body styles Engine Weight
Power / Weight
(bhp / 1000kg)
Final drive ratio
(manual / auto)
Z1 Convertible M20 1253 136 3.64 Disc/Disc ABS


Known Problems

See the M20 engine problems page.

The Z1's unique wheels are hard to replace if you bend them but other BMW wheels will fit.

The fancy doors and windows have been known to get out of sync, not a big issue really. Wheeler Dealers did an episode on the Z1 and it's worth watching for repair tips.