Where to begin with the iconic BMW Z1? The rebirth of the roadster? The piece of forbidden fruit BMW never gave to the US? Those DOORS? Or maybe retell the story of how I came to own this model...
Let’s talk about the doors first, as you guys know I’m a big fan of weird doors. The door panels themselves are made of themopastic. But that’s not the cool part; they actually retract downwards into the body of the car when they open. Sort of like the Kaiser Darrin from the 50's, this allowed passengers to enter in and out of the vehicle by dropping the doors straight down.
So how did the Z1 come to be? It actually started as a design study in the 80's that found its way into production. The Z stood for “Zukunft”, which is the word for future in German. At least that’s what Wikipedia says anyway, ich spreche kein Deutsch. BMW initially had received several orders before production began in 1988. Sales tapered off though and production ended in 1991 with around 8000 units being built. Sadly, none of those ever made it to the US. Some quick math, however, will tell you 1988 was more than 25 years ago! These are now eligible for import and have probably been popping up at your local cars and coffee.
Surprisingly, BMW followed the Z1 with the hugely successful Z3 Roadster and was a top player in the roadster renaissance of the late 90's.
I’ll admit, I always thought that the Z1 was one of those models that would be cool to own, but it was never officially on my want list. Nevertheless, eBay and it’s evil ways suggested I take a look at this listing for a Z1 that was missing its box. These Minichamps mainly go for north of $100, but this one was heavily discounted with a Buy it Now price of $55. I did a double take after I read the description: the car was “missing it’s doors and mirrors”, but the seller's pictures showed the car with it’s doors down.
There where two possible outcomes here. Either the seller didn’t know what a Z1 was or he did in fact remove the doors. I asked the seller to clarify and all he said was I would get what was pictured. Boom - add to cart! Sometimes it pays to know what you’re selling.
Oh yeah and the mirrors where in the trunk.
The model itself is fantastic. The interior is fully carpeted and the buttons and vents are molded into the dash; no stickers. Under the hood conforms to the same standards. I’m talking a dipstick, fuse box, and correctly colored fluid reservoirs.
True to the real car, the doors are made of plastic and disappear into the lower half of the car. I would totally drive around with the doors down if I had the real deal.