Bavarian Oddball: 1989 BMW Z1

Though many folks are familiar with BMW’s Z3 and Z4 models, the first BMW Z Series model was the Z1, a funky roadster with a production run of approximately 8,000 units. Additionally, the Z1 was never offered in the United States market when it was new, which makes this 1989 BMW Z1 that is available here on eBay an interesting find.

This Z1 is available in Greenville, South Carolina. Coincidentally, this is close to one of BMW’s largest North American manufacturing plants, which is located in Greer, South Carolina. This example was originally imported to be a collection piece, but now it is up for sale, with the seller stating that it “represents the perfect Cars and Coffee driver.”

For those unfamiliar with the Z1, its design is one of the most unique aspects of the vehicle. Most cars have doors that swing outwards, but the Z1’s doors retract downwards into the body. Other interesting design features include removable plastic body panels, a flat undercarriage for improved aerodynamics, and a protective roll hoop integrated into the windshield.

The interior of the roadster is rather simple, but that’s not an issue on a car like this, where the most important part is enjoying the ride. The Z1 features front suspension that is nearly identical to the company’s E30 3 Series, while the rear suspension and differential are similar to the E36 3 Series.

Each Z1 featured the same drivetrain as the E30 325i – a 2.5-liter M20B25 6-cylinder engine, which pairs to a 5-speed manual transmission to drive the rear wheels. This Z1 has 66,639 kilometers on the clock, which translates to approximately 41,157 miles, and it runs and drives without issue.

The Buy it Now price for this Z1 is $56,995. Would you pay the price for this unique piece of BMW history, or would you rather spend it on another BMW?

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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Before I went for a visual, I would want to see a video of a guy my age exiting the car!

    Like 14
    • Newport Pagnell

      I was thinkin’ leggy supermodel.

      Like 12
  2. Claudio

    Having owned a few bmw’s
    I can say that any model that is not a 3 series is a pain!
    Parts are scarce to say the least
    My 2000 z3 is already a pain
    I can just imagine what this can turn out to be
    I love driving them but they can cost a kidney to keep running
    Think $300+ for an airbag sensor and 2 are needed !

    Like 3
    • Sam61

      That’s why the grill is kidney shaped…subliminal messaging from the service dept. Thanks for Z3 tip…I came very close to buying one recently.

      Like 4
      • Claudio

        Buy the rare 2000 to 2005 mr2
        Its a blast , underpowered but its handles like its on rails and its a toyota , i had 2 and never a glitch , never an issue and the top doesnt leak and the parts come from the toyota bin

        Like 4
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I agree Claudio on some of the parts cost. I have had my Z3 for over 3 years now. No problems, yet. Love it!

      Like 1
      • sluggo Member

        nice plate

        Like 1
    • Jonathan Q Higgins

      Claudio is generally right, however my z3 has been a phenomenal car reliability wise. This z1 would be interesting but not at this price.

      Like 1
      • Claudio

        I am not saying that they are not reliable but when they fail it can cost more than other makes and the tops generally leak …

  3. Matt Smith

    I drove one of those in Germany, same color same everything. Hands down the most fun car I have ever driven. Okay, driving through the Alps might have added to that. But the doors are super cool, and drives like a dream. I may be wrong, but this car was designed with a new suspension that was later used on the 3 series. 50K is not for me, and I suppose one hit in the parking lot and you are screwed trying to find a door panel. YIKES. But it sure was a fun car!

    Like 2
  4. Bear

    Love the idea of self-retracting doors. :-)
    But I need them on ALL of the OTHER cars in the parking lot, so that they don’t door-ding MY car!! :-O

    Interesting car!
    Gotta love any car company that is willing to take risks & do something different.
    …even if it fails to be a sales success.

    Like 1
  5. Jim

    Older & heavy drivers need that protective roll hoop to exit

    Like 1
  6. misterlou Member

    The car used the Fiero model, with plastic removable body panels.

  7. NMexMatt

    cool thing about these is that all of the body panels are easily removed and you can change the color of the car just by replacing panels!

    Like 1
  8. JoeNYWF64

    No front side marker lites in ’89! But req’d in the states since ’68.

  9. Jonathan Q Higgins

    I feel you on the tops. Mine is about 10 years old and due to be replaced

  10. Leslie Martin

    This is why we can’t have nice things. To this day BMW still makes cars that are way too cool for us plebeian Americans. I wonder if the Z3, & 4 would have been more of a sales success in the US if the Z1 had been imported here.

    Like 1
  11. Mark J. Soderberg

    Just get a Miata and enjoy trouble free fun!

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