Party Like It’s 1989 Week: ’89 BMW Z1


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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1992 BMW Z1

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No….no…..someone didn’t park a precious BMW Z1 overnight on the street in the Bronx. What you’re looking at, rather, is art. Or an imitation thereof. BMW is well known for its series of one off “Art Cars.” From Alexander Calder to Andy Warhol, a number of popular artists have had their go at creating art in motion, using a variety of BMW models as their canvas. A.R. Penck, a neo-expressionist painter hailing from Dresden, went to work on the Z1 in 1991. The artist drew inspiration from cave paintings and sign language to come up with this striking motif over a red base.

This Z1 Art Car tribute is for sale just northeast of Cologne, Germany and would be permissible to import to the US under the “show and display” rule. It will still be another four years until it reaches the exempt 25 year mark for non-federalized imports.

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Year: 1992
Model: Z1
Engine: 2.5 liter inline six
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 48,091 km (~ 29,900 mi)
Price: €24,500 (~ $31,500 USD)

Click for Details: 1992 BMW Z1 on

BMW Z1 in “Toprot” with “AR PENCK” design (the film can be removed on request). You can see more information and videos on “Penck design” on or by entering the search term “BMW Z1 Penck.” Original of this “BMW Z1 Penck design” is the BMW Museum in Munich.

German vehicle
3 previous owners
BMW Maintenance Guide to 32,000 km
Timing belt change at 32,000 km
Mileage 48,091 KM is original!
Good cosmetic and mechanical condition
Two small chips on the hood
Absolute eye-catcher with “unique” look!

Power steering, central locking, ABS, power windows, power mirrors, Radio/CD, electronic immobilizer (chip), sport leather seats, sports leather steering wheel, 16 inch BMW wheels, tinted windows, 5-speed, fog lights, etc.

Vehicle is in original condition except for the “Penck Design” & radio!

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I’ve always liked Z1s. They’re funky and carry a lot of E30 bits under the skin. They also tend to escape the “hairdressers’ car” stereotype that plagues the Z3 and Z4, mainly because you just don’t see them on these shores. I’d be curious to find out whether the design is painted on or if these are easily removable decals of sorts. The Z1 doesn’t come cheap, even across the pond. About $25,000 to $30,000 is what you can expect to pay for a good one. It’s a lot of money for a 20 year old BMW, but you’re also buying into an exclusive club with a car that offers a healthy dose of rarity, engineering and uniqueness.


Uber Rare BMW Z1 For Sale

We see these, maybe a couple times a year but this may be the first example I have seen with a factory hard top.  Careful when removing that thing as I am not sure they have a replacement at your local parts department.

1989 BMW Z1 For Sale:

From the seller –

“1989 BMW Z1 finished in Black Metallic with Black/Red full leather interior. The Z1 was the first of the BMW’s to carry the Z ( Zukunft or Future in german ) nomenclature indicating the company’s look into the future. With only 8,000 units being made worldwide, the Z1 remains a coveted model by BMW enthusiasts. With the unique use of composites, zinc welded seams, removable body panels and with doors that electrically drop into the body panels, this car stops traffic where ever it goes. It is powered by BMW’s M20B25 straight six mated to a Getrag 260/5 five speed manual gearbox that provides plenty of power to zip this spirited Roadster along with no problem. A reliable exotic that is not seen often in this neck of the woods, the Zi is fitted with a fold down soft top, a suede lined removable hard top, full leather interior, sport alloy wheels, three spoke sport steering wheel and a Sony premium sound system. Driven just 47k miles since new, the car has no needs whatsoever.”

Love the car, love the color combo!  It is amazing the styling on these cars has held up so well.  Sure, those of the long legged variety are going to struggle with ingress/egress but the novelty of those doors nearly makes it worth it.  The hard top goes a long way towards finishing off the edges of this roadster.  Seeing this makes me despise the styling of the Z4 even more, if that is possible.

Nope, not possible.

Anyhow, bidding currently sits at $18.8k with the reserve not met.  These typically trade in the $25k range and there is no reason to think this won’t get there as well.  There are not many, if any, late model roadsters in that price range I would take over this Z1.


1990 BMW Z1, Fully Federalized

The United States, for all intensive purposes, is a free country. When it comes to many foreign vehicles, though, The Illuminatus Trilogy summed it up well: “Freedom defined is freedom denied.” Given that the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency act as the no fun club towards car enthusiasts, I jump when I see a rare and interesting vehicle which has endured the US Federalization process via some determined individual. As an example, Nate had recently featured an example of BMW’s first attempt at a roadster, the Z1. This car was for sale in Canada though, via Monaco. Now a little over a week later, I’ve located a Federalized Z1 on Hemmings hiding out in California.

1989 BMW Z1 on Hemmings

The seller states:

Rare car and especially rare in the US. Fully Federalized to drive in US. Will pass smog in CA (This alone costs tens of thousands of dollars). Excellent condition mechanically and cosmetically, new true dual exhaust, full leather interior, no cloth inserts. Optional deluxe hard top fully leather lined with speakers, map lights and rear defogger. Power Windows, Power Brakes, Power Steering. Great sound system. If you want a car that really stops traffic, this is the one. You can drive the car with the top and doors down at the same time. It’s the closest thing to a motorcycle only with four wheels. Very fun car to drive.

It took me 14 years to find one that I could purchase in the US and legally drive. I have found only six other Z1s in legally in the US. I’ve been told there are more in the US but they are not here legally. This one is fully recognized and authorized by the US DOT. All of the records from new come with this car. Every oil change, and all service has been documented. Recent timing belt change. All import records, updates to the exhaust and the leather interior are completed documented. This very car was featured in April 2008 issue of Bimmer magazine (pages 80 through 84). $52,500 negotiable

The Z8 will always be revered as a classic BMW roadster, much like the 507, it’s spiritual predecessor. It has always surprised me how overlooked the Z1 is, since it was somewhat of a test run for the later Z3 and Z4 roadsters to follow. $52,500 is not chump change for a BMW that is over 20 years old with 43,000 miles, but then again, this is no ordinary BMW. It’s about $10,000 higher than what I’d feel comfortable spending, considering that it is fully legal in this country. I do, however, love the color combination. With the sliding doors and warmer weather arriving here in the Northeast, it would be a fantastic form of shore transportation.


Extremely rare 1989 BMW Z1 for sale

In the car world, being an American is like growing up in a puritanical household. Strong values, but there are some awesome things that are hidden from you. For me, the BMW Z1 is like a rare wine in a robotic bottle to an Amish kid. For many years, the few glimpses I caught melded in my mind as some weird concept car BMW had developed, like the M8 or X5 Le Mans V12. Then I found out that I just hadn’t been exposed to it, and a very real 8,000 of these Z3 predecessors were produced for the European market from ’89-’91. The 325’s I6 contributes 170hp, meaning you get a little more form than function, but the design by Ulrich Bez (now Aston Martin CEO) is gorgeously svelte and it has lowering doors, a clever gimmick that are the main reason it didn’t come here. If only the M20B25 had a sufficient following and tuning community, you could have an unquestionably unique roadster with some go to match. Oh wait…

From the seller:

I am pleased to offer this very rare 1989 BMW Z1. These unique 2 seat BMW’s were produced between 1987-1991 with only 8000 examples produced. Very rare by modern BMW standards. VIN # WBABA91010AL00887.

This Z1 is located in Montreal, Canada and is presented with approx. 76,000 km (47,226 miles). It is absolutely striking in it’s black exterior with black interior with red seats. It is worth noting that only 2,301 Z1’s were produced in black. So many of the Z1’s out there today are very unusual colors such as pale yellow, green etc. This car has tons of eye appeal in my opinion.

The current owner imported the car in 2005 from Monaco. He has had the car maintained by the local BMW dealer in Montreal since 2005 and has only used it approx. 2000-3000 km per year. As shown in the pictures, the car comes with it’s original wheels as well as a set of modern alloy rims with new tires (presently on the car).

The car includes:

– Original hardtop
– New muffler replaced in 2005
– Original rims and tires
– Car cover imported from Germany

Car has been freshly detailed, is in excellent condition and is ready to be enjoyed by a new owner.

I’m surprised at how into this car I am. I dig its baby-E31 looks, color/rim choices, and extreme rarity. Probably still can’t get it into the US, and the Cannucks hit with one of their annoying superiorities. Imported from Monaco and impeccably maintained, this 47k-mile specialty will not go cheap, at a reserve-on $15k with 9 days to go. If you’re well-heeled, confident in your masculinity (or femininity… do we have any female readers out there?), and looking for some Euro-Canadian strange, this is the hot ticket.