Motorsports Monday: BMW Legends Collection

Let’s say you want to start a car collection, and for ease of argument’s sake, let’s say you’re really into BMWs. Which is the model you want? You could be a 507 enthusiast, love the classic 3.0 CSL or 2002, envy every E30 or lust over the modern muscle the company produces. But odds are if you’re reading these pages you, like me, gravitate towards BMW’s Motorsport models.

Within the Pantheon of classic models, there then comes the difficult decisions. How do you choose between the E30 M3 and the 1M, for example? Well, Enthusiast Auto Group has a suggestion. Why not have them both? Or, even better, why not assemble all of the greatest hits from BMW’s M division over the past 40 years and put them together into one curated, turn-key package?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: The Collection of BMW Legends at Enthusiast Auto Group

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1990 BMW Z1 with 10,500 Miles

Future.

That’s what the “Z” in the roadster/coupe lineup of BMW stands for, and it’s hard not to look at the 1990 BMW Z1 and not see a futuristic Roadster. Based upon, and sold alongside, the E30 BMW, the underpinnings weren’t revolutionary, but the shape sure was. Highlighted by its resin body with guillotine doors, roughly 8,000 of these unique visions of the future were produced by BMW. So thorough was the exterior change, little connection of the E30 base can immediately be seen. Never officially imported to the United States, there are nonetheless several cruising around (by cruising around, I mean mostly being offered for sale for outrageous prices). Today’s signature Urgrün (Original Green) Z1 has only 10,500 miles since new, so is this one equally unaffordable?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW Z1 on eBay

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Two Visions of the Future: 1963 BMW 700LS and 1990 BMW Z1

Update 6/1/18 – the BMW 700LS has dropped a further $2,000 in ask to $19,500.

Update 2/6/18 – Unsurprisingly, the 700LS remains available on reserve auction (it is $21,900 on their site)

Normally, our dual posts have two comparable cars to consider. But while typically that manifests itself in one model, one price point or one performance group, today it’s something very different.

Although both of today’s cars come from one marque – BMW – there is literally and figuratively a huge chasm of development between them. There’s also a vast gulf between performance, desirability and price. Yet each reflected the time point in which it was made; the austere 1960s, emerging from the fog of war into a bustling economy when average Germans could for the first time contemplate automobile ownership, and the exotic 1980s, with its new computer designs and technology rapidly forcing car designs forward. For the company, each car represented the future in many ways even if the results and their impact was so vastly different.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1963 BMW 700LS on eBay

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1990 BMW Z1

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As it has aged, the BMW Z3 (with exception of the M Coupe) has become a bit of an unwanted step child amongst pre-owned BMWs. They aren’t new enough to be considered cool and aren’t old enough to be considered classic. Most of those in the states would be forgiven if they thought this was BMW’s first crack at the roadster format, but it wasn’t. Dial back to the late 1980s and you’ll find this rather strange convertible called the Z1. Built in limited numbers from 1989 through 1991, it was a bit of a test bed for new technologies, such as removable plastic body panels, a “Z” axle rear suspension and underbody aerodynamic tray. There were only 8,000 of these funky roadsters ever made and a few have started making their way to the US as they have now breached 25 years of age. This example is for sale in Texas.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW Z1 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1991 Alpina RLE

From an extremely rare set of custom Corrados this morning, our journey on this Tuner Tuesday ends with a lovely Alpina RLE. Compared to the Magnums, the Roadster Limited Edition is positively plentiful with 66 official examples produced. However, compare that number to the 555 V8 Roadsters the company later produced, and the exclusivity of the RLE starts to come into clearer focus. As Alpinas go, the transformation of the Z1 was not as radical as some. Light revisions to the suspension were met with an uncharacteristically small but notable increase in displacement, giving the RLE some more sport to match its looks. But looks were what it was all about, as even in 1991 a 7.1 second 0-60 run wasn’t much of a headline. Those looks were blockbuster, though – the 17″ wheels filling out the diminutive wedge design perfectly and matched well by the classic Alpina stripes. Special interior details also dressed up the plastic-heavy Z1, and the result was impressive even if the performance wasn’t. So special and limited were these roadsters, Alpina even took the time to individually number the crests on the centercaps of the wheels!

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Alpina RLE at Coy’s

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1991 BMW Z1

BMW took a big leap at the end of the 1980s and introduced some pretty extreme design language. First was the E31 8-series, a seeming quantum leap from the outgoing 6-series. That chassis pioneered, for better or worse, a tremendous amount of technical and electronic innovation for BMW. Side by side with the more famous Grand Tourer though was a diminutive roadster BMW produced based heavily on the E30 chassis. Instead of a heavy reliance on computer technology, the futuristic (hence Z for the German word for future – Zukunft) plastic bodied Z1 looked like a supercar even if it didn’t go like one. Park one next to a E30 convertible and you’d never know the two are related! They never made it to U.S. shores and only around 8,000 examples were ever produced, but surprise! They’re 25 years old now….

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW Z1 on eBay

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1989 BMW Z1

As a kid, I used to pour over the pages of Road & Track and Car & Driver and would sit in wonder looking at all the cars that were forbidden to US consumers due to ever increasing safety and emission regulations. One of the cars that caught my eye in the late 1980s was the BMW Z1. It was apparent from the outset that this was going to be a limited production model, but it had me scratching my head, wondering why BMW had not yet exploited the two-seater roadster market stateside. It wouldn’t be until the mid-1990s that the Z3 would arrive on the scene and even though it was initially powered by a four-cylinder engine, people lined up to purchase this diminutive drop top in droves. Now that the Z1 has approached 25 years of age, a few examples are trickling in to the United States, including this example for sale in South Carolina.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW Z1 on Hemmings Motor News

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Tuner Tuesday: 1991 Alpina RLE

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The first of the BMW Z1s to roll off the production line are now eligible for legal importation to the US, given they’ve crossed the 25 year old mark. None of the 8,000 produced over three years made their way stateside, but these roadsters with their funky downward retracting doors do have a cult following. Famed BMW tuner Alpina tried their hand at modifying the Z1, the result being the vehicle you see here: the RLE, or Roadster Limited Edition. Only 66 of these special Z1s were ever made, half going to Japan and half allocated for Europe.

Amongst the modifications was an inline-6 enlarged to 2.7 liters that bumped power to around 200 bhp, shorter front springs and trademark 17″ Alpina wheels. Along with the original 66 produced, a handful were also converted to Alpina spec from original Z1s. This RLE for sale at 4Star Classics is one of the original 66 and produced. It’s hard to imagine a Z1 being thought of as common, but this RLE takes exclusivity to another level.

Click for details: 1991 Alpina RLE at 4Star Classics

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1991 BMW Z1

For some time, BMW has dared to look ahead towards the future; in the 1970s, BMW brought turbocharging to small sedans and even the idea of an efficient supercar. In the 1980s, BMW introduced the world to an entire range of sporting products with its M division – a blueprint which certainly all German, if not most manufacturers in general, follow today. More recently, BMW has pioneered “efficient dynamics” and brought the first realistic super-performance, ultra efficient car to the market with the i8. But in the 1990s, it was a different sort of revolution. BMW looked towards new technology in both electronic systems, manufacturing, car design and construction with its revolutionary 8 series and Z1. The E31 is a car well known to these pages, but as the Z1 was never imported to the U.S., it’s not a car that we often get to feature.

The Z1 was a complete departure for BMW; while they were not strangers to small cabriolets, their previous efforts were in the 1930s with the 315/1 and the 1960s with the 700. BMW went away from the idea of an integral body and frame to a separate chassis with removable, plastic body pieces. The idea was that the owners could replace the panels themselves to “repaint” the car with minimal effort. It was something the Smart car would be notable for – a car that launched a decade following the Z1. The doors didn’t open out – the slid down into the supporting chassis structure. In front was nothing new – the venerable M20 from the E30 popped up here, too – but in the rear the Z1 was new with a multi-link rear axle of its own. This new design would later be incorporated into the E36. It’s interesting that with the Z3 BMW opted to go the opposite route and incorporate earlier E30 pieces into the rear of the /7 and /8. While performance was relatively leisurely, the Z1 nevertheless garnered praise for its innovation, unique design and great looks:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 BMW Z1 on Kijiji

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Party Like It’s 1989 Week: ’89 BMW Z1

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What was the first BMW Z car? Ask any American on the street and they’ll probably tell you the Z3, otherwise known as the car from the James Bond flick, Goldeneye. That answer would be incorrect. The first Z was the Z1, built between 1989 and 1991 with 8,000 copies produced. Noted mainly for its doors that retracted into the side of the vehicle, this roadster was based on E30 3 series mechanicals and featured new technology that would trickle down into the rest of the BMW range. The Z axle rear suspension would go on to be used in the E36 3 series and high intensity discharge lights would appear on many future BMW models. Curiously, no Z1 came fitted with air conditioning, as there was limited room in the interior for both heating elements and the cooling unit. This particular Z1 is for sale in just north of Hamburg, Germany.

Click for more details: 1989 BMW Z1 at Autodrom Cannes

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