This is a car defined entirely by this one singular feature.
As the great, great grandfather of the modern-day BMW Z4 Roadster, the Z1 has a special place in BMW history. Not only was it the first of its kind, but it was also one of BMW's most creative designs and one that is capable of drawing the attention of every passerby the moment you open the door. That's because the doors made the Z1 such an icon. It started a lineage of roadsters for the bavarian brand that included other oddities - and not roadsters - like the Z3 M Coupe. But while those that came after are adored by many, the Z1 holds a certain allure the others don't.
Built between March 1989 and June 1991, only 8,000 were built, making this one of BMW's rarer models. But now, one is up for sale on Bring A Trailer, and with bidding set to end in four days, the car you see here could fetch as much as a brand new Z4.
Let's get it out of the way now. In addition to the wild styling (we'll get there in a second), the Z1's claim to fame is its wild door design situation. We can only assume a designer at BMW who liked hopping over the doors into their convertible came up with this arrangement.
Instead of swinging outwards, opening upwards, or swiveling forwards, the Z1 features sliding doors. But not sliding doors as you'd find on a minivan, as in the case of the Z1, they retract vertically into the vehicle's structure, with the top half rolling down into the bodywork, allowing ingress. You'll notice the mirrors are also mounted on the A-pillars as a result, and the "door handle" is actually the lock cylinder positioned just behind the doors.
Doors aside, the Z1 was still an oddity. Only 8,000 or so cars were ever produced, and a huge number of them (somewhere north of 80%) were delivered within Germany. They are, to say the least, very rare.
The Z1 is also very light, at 2,760 lbs. That's thanks in part to the all-plastic body. In fact, the Z1 was the first BMW to use the tech. It was also one of the first to use multi-link suspension, an important innovation of the day. Of course, all that is nothing without a solid powerplant.
The BMW Z1 had that as well, borrowing the M20-designated 2.5-liter straight-six from the E30 BMW 325i. Paired to this was a Getrag-sourced manual transmission spinning up the rear wheels with five forward gears. From the factory, it made a whopping 168 horsepower and 164 lb-ft of torque.
As for this particular car, it's tough to say what it will sell for. With four days left on the bidding and the current offer at $42,000 - matching the 42,000 miles it's covered - we suspect the bids may climb rapidly. We've previously seen Z1s sell for more than $50k.
This Florida-based car, finished in BMW Toprot red over a combination of gray nubuck and patterned leather upholstery, appears in good nick. It recently had the AC blower motor replaced, the instrument cluster rebuilt, and major components like the water pump, thermostat, alternator, camshaft and crankshaft seals, clutch release cylinder, various hoses, and its battery all replaced.
A clean Carfax report, partial service history, and multiple keys should all increase its value.