Older sister the BMW Z1 : 

Back to the family

BMW 328 BMW 507 Z1 Z3 Coupe Z4 Z5 Z8 Z9

On the 1st of January 1985 BMW AG founded the subsidiary company 'BMW Technology GmbH'. Internally the company was known as ZT. The mission statement of the company was 'to execute and enable developments in the area of automobile technology that reset or modify the basics of automobile design.Therefore, enable trend setting'. These revolutionary technologies and techniques were to be developed without commercial influences, that is, without the requirement that they be used in production at some later date. Ulrich Bez was the first director of BMW Technology GmbH. Here Harm M. Lagaay, who was the first Chief of Design at 'Technik GmbH' and later held the same position at Porsche reflects on the year 1985: "At the beginning of 1985 Ulrich Bez offered me the position of Chief of Design. Indeed, the first few employees were already there and the first theme decided upon : 'Freedom on four wheels'

The BMW Z1 was a result of this project and was only ever intended as a concept car that was never to go into production. Correspondingly, it's design was very unconventional. During his first visit to Technik GmbH on 2nd August, 1985, Eberhard von Kuenheim, the chairman of BMW AG, was shown the first sketches of a roadster with the theme 'freedom on four wheels'. At that time, almost no other car manufacturer had a roadster on their program. He considered various possibilities and decided to continue the project. At the next meeting on 26th November, 1985, von Kuenheim considered the outcome and spontaneously declared that a functional prototype should be completed. This prototype was completed in July 1986.

The first story in the 16/1986 edition of the Magazine 'Auto Motor und Sport' hit like a bomb. On 22nd July, as a result of this, it was decided that four more prototypes would be built. When the first prototypes were built, no one thought that the car would be put into production. The 22nd July, 1986 was also the beginning of construction proper. On the 18th December the CEO decided to put the Z1 into production. " See how the realisation of such a concept can be carried out in minimal quantities, say between 1 and 5 cars per day". Mission accomplished! The Z1 was presented at the IAA in Frankfurt in 1987. 

Afterwards ...The success of the BMW Z1 paved the way for the future of the roadster. The Z1 was a concept car and was never intended to go into production. Accordingly, its production was not cost effective to bring about. Therefore a conventional construction was needed to make use of cost effective and well known production methods. For that reason the Z3 was developed using the basis of the 3 series. In the meantime almost every manufacturer has jumped on the train and now offers a roadster. 

The Z1 has remarkable aerodynamics for a roadster. The design of the underbody has a major influence on this. The whole of the underneath of the car is covered by a flat composite undertray which is designed to smooth the airflow to the rear wing, which is the silencer and bodywork at the rear of the car.The rear downforce is created by a low pressure area generated by the effect of the airofoil section of the transverse rear silencer box, and it's nearby body parts which work as aerofoil slats.The front downforce is created by a high pressure area at the front edge of the bonnet (hood for our transatlantic cousins). The forward part of this body section is a concave curve, before turning convex as is more normal. A high pressure area is created just above the front wheels.

BMW Z1 Specifications
Engine M20 - Inline 6 Cylinder 
Displacement  2494 ccs 
Power 170 bhp @ 5800 rpm 
Torque 158 lb-ft @ 4300 rpm 
Weight ( full tank)  1250 kg 
Cars built 8000
Production years 1986 - 1991
Acceleration  0-60 mph : 7.9 sec
Max speed 225 kmh ( 140mph)