BMW Z1 looks like no other production model from the brand – either before or since it was introduced in 1987. Now, there’s a chance to own a pristine example with just 65 miles (104 kilometers) on the clock. The car even comes with a rare aftermarket hardtop. Auction house Artcurial expects the machine to bring between $108,442 and $162,663 at its event in France on February 2.
BMW debuted the Z1 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and production began in the fall of 1988. It was the brand’s first two-seat sports car since the 507 in the 1950s. The development team got creative when they had the opportunity to make a new roadster. The crisp body lines looked like no other BMW available at the time. The vehicle also featured plastic exterior panels and trick doors that retracted downward into the body. Underneath the skin was a zinc-dipped steel monocoque.
The high side sills and retracting doors allowed occupants to lower the panels while driving to enjoy an even more open motoring experience. There aren’t too many roadster out there that offer the same exposure to the world. The closest we can think of are the Caterham Seven or Ariel Atom.
The BMW Z1 borrowed the 2.5-liter inline-six from the contemporary E30-generation 325i, making 168 horsepower. The five-speed manual gearbox also came from the 3 Series. BMW developed a multi-link rear suspension setup that the company dubbed the “Z-axle.” This setup was adaptable enough that the automaker used a similar layout for the E36 3 Series and Rover 75.
The hardtop that comes with this Z1 is particularly rare. Wiesmann Auto Sport only made around 500 of them, according to the fan site bmwz1.co.uk. They were available with a heated rear window and leather or suede interior trim.
BMW made 8,000 Z1s by the time production ended in June 1991. The brand’s next roadster was the more conventional Z3 for the 1995 model year.
Even the newest BMW Z1s are old enough that Americans can bring them into the United States under the 25-year rule, which allows folks to import classic vehicles into the country. An example in decent condition is worth $61,400 in the US, according to Hagerty Insurance. This one, thanks to its low mileage and included hardtop, will certainly sell for much more.