Sliding Doors: 5,800 mile BMW Z1 @ Car & Classic online auction

Sliding Doors: 5,800 mile BMW Z1 @ Car & Classic online auction

BMW Z1 with just 9,342 kilometres (5,804 miles) for sale by auction on Car & Classic
Highly original, and in excellent condition thanks to 30 years of BMW dealership ownership
One of only 8,000 ever made
Auction runs from 01 – 8 October and could reach between £50k and £60k

Car & Classic online marketplace for classic and niche vehicles is set to auction a rare 1991 BMW Z1, with just 9,342 kilometres on the clock. This car has been owned by a BMW dealership in La Spezia, Italy since new in 1991, and has been used just enough to keep the mechanicals ticking over in that time. The car's current vendor in Italy bought the car in 2021 and has retained the originality, including its Pirelli tyres.

So much more than ‘that BMW with unusual doors’, this was the Munich marque’s first open-top sports car in a generation, after the 507 ceased production in 1960. The first car from BMW’s new ‘Technik’ division, the Z1 was characterised by myriad new features and technologies, most notably the vertically sliding doors. The doors facilitated more convenient ingress and egress in cramped parking spaces, whilst also giving the car a head-turning and headline-generating attribute (especially when driven with the doors retracted).

Unveiled in 1986, the concept was highly popular but initially wasn’t intended to make it to production. Ultimately, BMW announced in 1987 that the car would come to market, and some 35,000 preorders for the car reportedly flooded in. The Z1’s unconventional design and hand-built construction meant production was very slow. This, combined with the immense popularity of Mazda’s brand-new, mass-produced Mk.1 MX-5, was a factor in killing the Z1 project after only three years, and a run of 8,000 examples.

These meagre sales figures don’t reflect the car’s critical acclaim with LJK Setright noting its “Marvellous balance in everything from chassis dynamics to control-matching”, which “proves it the work of masters.” The Z1 achieved this thanks to its front-mid engine location, near 50-50 weight distribution and ‘Z Axle.’

Although some of the Z1’s 278 Traumschwarz thermoplastic bodywork would benefit from some rectification to repair some cracks and minor scuffs, it is in good overall condition. In line with the car’s low mileage, the simple but effective interior is stunning with camouflage pattern material and period radio, whilst the two major moving body parts (the roof and the doors) are also fully operational. The original user manual in Italian, service document and Italian registration are all present along with its toolkit.

The Z1’s 2.5-litre M20 straight-six petrol engine and Getrag five-speed manual gearbox (as found in the E30 325i) are in fine working order and provide 168bhp at 5,800rpm; good for a top speed of 140mph and 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds. Pitched as BMW’s halo car in the late 80s and early 90s, the Z1’s rarity attracts BMW enthusiasts, with few exhibiting such a low mileage Car & Classic’s 1991 BMW Z1 auction goes live on October 1 and runs until October 8. A past sale on Car & Classic of just under £50k indicates this example may fetch between £50k and £60k.

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