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    Time for the autumn chill-out

    1989 BMW 320i Convertible Glen Waddington

    / #1989-BMW-320i-Convertible / #1989 / #BMW-320i-Convertible / #BMW-320i-Convertible-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B20 / #BMW-320i-E30 / #BMW-320i / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet / #BMW-E30-M20 / #BMW-E30-Cabriolet-M20 / #BMW-3-Series-E30 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio / #BMW-3-Series-Cabrio-E30 / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet / #BMW-320i-Cabriolet-E30

    As I write this the sun is shining outside. It’s bloody cold, though. Autumn is setting in quickly and suddenly and it’s only just over a month since I spent a balmy late-summer evening with a whole bunch of BMW convertibles near Henley-on-Thames, as regular readers might remember. I had a fantastic time piloting such beauties as a BMW-328-Roadster , a #BMW-507 , a #BMW-Z1 and a #BMW-Z8 (see right), before sunset called a halt to proceedings.

    Thing is, I’d already had a fabulous drive down there in my own #BMW-Convertible . And no matter what the charms of those other cars were - only one of which I could even imagine owning, if you bear their market values in mind - mine more than held its own. In fact, it was rather enjoyable to have some of the other assembled journalists take a look over it; one or two of them even assumed it had been brought down as part of BMW’s own fleet!

    The journey was a hundred miles or so, much on trunk roads plus a spell on the M40. But the scenery turns bucolic in a major way on the stretch south from Stokenchurch, narrow lanes winding and plunging through dense woodland with the sun barely filtering through at times, thee leafy smell and the birdsong make a convertible a real treat to be in - quite a different effect from the more usual roof-down/howling exhaust scenario.

    A few hours later I had to think about my route home, those thread-like lanes could easily hide the occasional inebriated local, lurking in a 4x4 without thought to a delicate 1980s soft-top, so I headed out of Henley towards Nettlebed and Watlington and was treated to some fabulously sinuous B-roads, perfect for the innate balance and modest yet useful power of my 320i. Even the roundabouts on the A43 past Brackley did their bit to make this a properly life-affirming high-speed late-night trek. One I’ll remember during the winter evenings ahead.
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    1989 BMW Z1 £38,000

    This looks like a well-preserved Z1 – just replace the original tyres and your summer will be full of fun, reckons Paul Hardiman.

    This German-market Z1, in a slightly unusual Traumschwarz (Dream Black) came to the UK in 1998 with just three home-market stamps in its service book, all from BMW main dealers, and after two owners. There are now 11 more stamps from UK dealers and specialists and the latest of its four UK owners has compiled a detailed history summary. Last cambelt change was in 2016 at 83,737km (52,031 miles), new rear springs were fitted in 2014. The odometer now reads 84,680km (52,617 miles).

    The composite body is free from cracks – these cars tend to go first around the door locks as everything stiffens up with age, but this one is fine. It’s had some areas repainted – the last bill is dated 2012, but it doesn’t look like a full respray.

    The wheels have been refinished in BMW Sparkle Silver and are shod in original-specification Goodyear Eagles. They all have good tread, but at least two are so ancient they’re not even datestamped and the newest is 12 years old.

    If you intend to enjoy the car, they need putting on a shelf and using for show only. It’s not scraped under the floorpan or chin and the exhaust looks to be in fair shape, although the outer layer of the transverse rear silencer – which doubles as an aerofoil – is flaking.

    Z1 interiors, especially the seats, are not very robust and show their age quickly, but these have done quite well, being a little baggy on the bases as is normal but not too worn or discoloured, and the front bolsters are good. Carpets and dash plastics are all good apart from one tiny nick in front of the passenger. There’s a genuine BMW Bavaria stereo too – some came with aftermarket Sony units.

    The hood is original and good, apart from one tiny wear hole on the right-hand side. Most important, the electric doors open and close perfectly, as do the windows, and there’s no scuffing on their inner trims which happens if they wear or get badly out of adjustment. There’s slight wear to the sill side trims, caused by the driver and passenger sliding across to get in and out, but that’s normal.

    In the boot, the original toolkit remains clipped under the lid next to the warning triangle and the first-aid kit has never been opened. There’s a car cover too.

    The straight-six is clean and workmanlike rather than concours. Fluids are to maximum levels and it fires instantly. There’s a little balljoint-like rattle over potholes in Project Shop’s driveway, but it doesn’t feel worn out and drives nicely, with everything working as it should and the temperature steady a third of the way up the gauge. These cars aren’t blindingly fast, being slightly heavier than the E30 325i from which they borrow most of their mechanicals, but performance is adequate and handling excellent.

    As well as the detailed history file, there’s a photocopy of the Z1 repair manual, two sets of keys and an MoT until January. You can have a regular British numberplate if you want, too.


    In production from March 1989 to June 1991, demand for Z1s is so high that 8000 are built, all LHD, against an original plan for 5000.

    The car is based on E30 and E36 mechanicals in a steel ‘punt’ chassis, clad in removable thermoplastic and glassfibre panels.

    The Z1 sees the first use of BMW’s multi-link rear ‘Z axle’, but its big novelty is electrically operated doors that slide down into the sills. 66 Alpina RLE conversions are built, all with 2.7-litre 204bhp engines.

    Just 50-150 cars (depending on who you believe) are officially imported into the UK, all with mph speedos and priced at £36,925. Expect to pay a small premium over mainland European examples if you can find one.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #1989 / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z1-E30 / #BMW-Z-Series-E30 /

    Price £38,000
    Contact Project Shop, Bicester, Oxfordshire (, 01869 351883)
    Engine 2494cc, sohc, inline six-cylinder, #Bosch-Motronic fuel injection / #BMW-M20 / #M20 / #M20B25
    Power 171bhp @ 5800rpm DIN
    Torque 164lb ft @ 4300rpm DIN
    Performance Top speed: 140mph; 0-60mph: 7.8sec
    Fuel consumption 30mpg
    Length 3925mm
    Width 1690mm

    Seats have aged well for a Z1 and the rest of the cabin’s in good nick.
    2494cc straight-six won’t win a concours prize but it works well.
    Bodywork and wheels look good and the sliding electric doors work as they should.
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    / #BMW-ArtCars / #A-R-Penck-Z1 / #A-R-Penck / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW-Z1-A-R-Penck / #BMW-Z1-E30 / #BMW-Z1-ArtCar / #BMW / #1991 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E30

    BMW’s 11th #Art-Cars / #BMW-Art-Cars is unique for two reasons: it’s the only Roadster to be a canvas and is the only one painted by a German artist.

    You could argue that neither the artist of this month’s Art Car, A R Penck, nor the car itself fit into a particular system, they’re both non-conformists. This is certainly demonstrated by the artist painting his secret language on the Z1 Roadster, which is mainly comprised of symbols, forms and archaic-looking shapes that call out to be decoded.

    A R Penck was born as Ralf Winkler in Dresden in 1939. At the early age of 17, the self-taught artist had already held his first exhibition. In the years to follow, Penck devoted most of his time to studying the works of Picasso, Rembrandt and prehistoric cave paintings, the latter of which, in 1960/’61, was to result in the famous silhouetted ‘Matchstick Man’. The study of mathematics, cybernetics and physics increased his knowledge of pictorial language and Penck’s works soon became internationally acclaimed. They are now exhibited in museums throughout Europe, Japan and the USA.

    To Penck, the BMW Z1 is already a “work of art”, worthy of the term #BMW-Art-Car , as it already reflects the creativity and imagination of its designers and engineers. “Art-on-art and art-on-technology… that interested me, especially art on a three-dimensional object,” he commented. Penck became inspired by technical design, and challenging it with his own cosmos and sign language. In its simplicity it’s reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings but it is, nonetheless, a challenge to the observer, as the figures and signs resulting from a long process of abstraction are codes that have to be deciphered.

    The Z1 was commissioned shortly after German reunification and as the first German artist he paints an Art Car with little reference to the car itself and with a lot of irony: “I have only been a passenger in a car for many years and I have only ever been a passenger in a BMW!” he said.

    Penck’s work has always been provoking so it was perhaps only natural that his way to get himself in the mood to paint the Z1 raised a few eyebrows. He did this by playing the drums just before painting the car to feel the vibration and then he painted the car with thick black paint in around 15 minutes.

    “Every artist is like a general who knows his battle order and has his soldiers on call to be used as needed. In the old days artists painted the sun but today everything is a bit more abstract,” said Penck. “The interesting thing about a work of art is not what it actually shows but first that it is shown and then how it is shown – you need to assume that you can think anything about it.” That’s one of the wonderful things about Penck’s Z1 – the car presents you with more riddles than answers and as for the hidden meanings, Penck leaves that to your own imagination…
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    RM Sotheby’s Duemila Ruote sale, 25-27 November / #BMW

    If you’re feeling adventurous towards the end of November may we suggest you hi-tail it across to Milan for RM Sotheby’s ‘Duemila Ruote’ (literal meaning: 2000 wheels) auction, the largest event of its kind ever hosted in Europe. On the weekend of 25 November, well over 430 cars will descend on Milan, Italy, to be offered entirely without reserve, alongside over 150 motorcycles, 60 boats, and hundreds of road bicycles and items of automobilia.

    The venue for this auction is the Fiera Milano exhibition centre, during the Milano AutoClassica, easily accessible from around the world with three international airports and situated within the heart of Italy’s most exciting travel destinations.

    As we went to press there were around ten BMWs listed and it’s worth remembering that everything on offer is being sold without reserve… so there could be some bargains to be had. Information on the specific vehicles was a little sparse but we think we can forgive RM Sotheby’s that at this stage, as compiling a catalogue for such a huge sale is quite some undertaking. Here are some of the lots we thought looked interesting…

    / #1987 / #BMW-E30 / #BMW-M3-E30 ESTIMATE €10,000-€12,000
    / #1983 / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-635CSi-ETCC-Group-A / #BMW-635CSi-ETCC-Group-A-E24 ESTIMATE €5000-€10,000
    / #1986 / #BMW-E24 / #BMW-M635CSi-E24 / ESTIMATE €10,000-€15,000
    / #1990 / #BMW-Z1 / ESTIMATE €30,000-€35,000
    / #1998 / #BMW-Z3-M-Coupé ESTIMATE €20,000-€30,000
    / #1987 E30 / #BMW-M3-Evo-E30 ESTIMATE €15,000-€20,000
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    HITS THE SPOT Z1 PERFECTION Tweaked and tuned Roadster

    An oddity it might be but the Z1 is a mighty fine driving machine that can be easily enhanced with a few choice mods. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Sebas Mol.

    Super-slick BMW Z1 E30

    “Few cars are capable of turning this many heads with so little effort”

    I don’t like convertibles, I don’t like roadsters, I don’t like soft-tops in general – whatever you may choose to call them. Most girls do, but not me. I have nothing against them or the people who choose to buy them but they’re just not for me. The Z1, on the other hand, well that’s a different matter altogether. For some reason this futuristic oddity has always been very special to me and I still remember being blown away when I first saw it at the British International Motor Show at Earls Court back in #1988 at the tender age of six. But how could you not have been, even as an adult at the time? Or even as an adult now?

    The ‘Z’ in BMW’s Z models stands for ‘Zukunft’, meaning ‘future’ in German, and no other model has managed to capture the essence of that word so completely as the Z1. The Z8 did look pretty futuristic but it was a modern reimagining of the 507. The Z1, however, was its own car and one that has magically managed to avoid ageing. It’s such a rarity and such a great-looking machine, especially with the roof down. Its clean lines and fantastic styling details belie its 27 years of existence. Whilst on a shoot with one a few years ago a passer-by even wandered over and asked if this was the new model of BMW!

    Now, Z1s are expensive so you have to be pretty committed to want to modify one, but for owner Patrick Emperhoff modifying was the logical course of action when it came to bringing his sorry-looking Z1 up to scratch. “I have been interested in BMWs since I was 18 years old and the Z1 was the car that started it all for me, although I did not have enough money to buy one at the time,” he says. That didn’t stop him from indulging in some of BMW’s other offerings, though, including an E30 318i Cab, an E21 that he swapped an Alpina M20B27 engine into, a 2002Ti, and E93 335i – all of which he still has. He never stopped thinking about that Z1, though, and had to wait 15 long years before he finally got to fulfil his teenage dream and pick up this very car.

    It was, says Patrick, in a bad way. Not that you’d have any clue looking at it now. It’s not just super-clean but has been treated to a host of choice mods that have given it the sort of purposeful look that we approve of. As far as the styling goes, this Z1 has been left alone because, well, why mess around with such a great shape?

    Whatever position and combination of doors and roof you go for the Z1 refuses to look ungainly or ugly and few cars are capable of turning this many heads with so little effort. So, if you’re not going to touch the styling, what can you do to up the ante in the looks department? Wheels and suspension? Yeah, that’ll do it…

    The wheels, Patrick tells us, were already on the car when he bought it, although the centres had been painted violet, which we can’t imagine was a good look. But now those 17” OZ Futuras deserve all the praise that you can heap upon them, with Patrick getting the centres back to a far more natural and neutral silver, while the dishes have been polished to perfection. They really suit the car, especially when combined with the drop delivered by Patrick’s choice of suspension. You’re not exactly spoilt for choice when it comes to aftermarket suspension choices for the Z1 but if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. This is why this example has been treated to a set of special production coilovers from H&R, which deliver a ride height that’s spot-on. The chassis has been further sharpened-up with the addition of some Powerflex bushes, while under the bonnet sits an aluminium strut brace.

    A lot of the changes that Patrick has carried out are beneath the skin, while we can’t see them, he can most definitely enjoy the positive effects they have on the driving experience.

    The Z1 interior is a strange place, a mix of familiar #BMW-E30 switchgear, a few oddities, like the mismatched speedo and rev counter (the latter being smaller and sticking further out from the instrument cluster), and those seats. They are quite unlike anything ever fitted to a BMW before or since, with their futuristic styling, a creative combination of materials and that crazy camo print pattern.

    They’re super-comfy, super-grippy, and offer loads of support – which are all things you want from a seat mounted in a car that handles as sweetly as the Z1, especially with that uprated suspension on board. To further sharpen-up his Roadster’s responses Patrick has fitted a quicker steering rack to pick up the slack, with a smart Alpina steering wheel offering the perfect means with which to carve through corners, along with a short-shift kit.

    While the Z1 is nimble and light on its feet, with a capable and willing chassis, the #M20B25 under the bonnet doesn’t have quite enough grunt to make the most of what the chassis is capable of. It’s still a glorious engine and with 170hp and 164lb ft of torque it’s not short of shove but the Z1 is crying out for a little more under-bonnet action. Patrick hasn’t gone mad on engine mods but he’s carried out a few tweaks to make the most of what he’s got. A chip has helped to perk the engine up a bit while a Wiesmann exhaust has given it a more sonorous soundtrack. Finally, a 3.90 LSD has added a lot more punch and made the Z1 feel a lot quicker and more responsive.

    The combination of H&R coilovers, quicker steering, a short-shift, and a shorter final drive has resulted in a car that is insanely fun to drive, with plenty of straight line punch. Patrick has turned an already sharp chassis into one that’s scalpel-like in its precision and response. Indeed, the chassis upgrades are Patrick’s favourite aspects of his Z1. “I love the suspension and the quick steering; it feels like a gokart!” he says with a grin. And, while he’s more than happy to show it off, because you can’t own a Z1 and shy away from attention, this is not a show queen and his future plans for it are entirely centred around driving it. We couldn’t approve of that any more if we tried.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-Z1-E30 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E30 / #BMW / #BMW-Z1-Wiesmann / #BMW-Z1

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 2.5-litre straight-six #M20B25 / #BMW-M20 / #M20 , performance chip, #Wiesmann exhaust, five-speed manual gearbox, 3.90:1 LSD with M Roadster cover with cooler

    CHASSIS: 8x17” (front) and 9x17” (rear) #OZ-Futura wheels with 215/40 (front and rear) tyres, #H&R special order coilovers, #PowerFlex bushes, aluminium strut brace, stainless brake hoses, quicker steering rack

    EXTERIOR: Stock

    INTERIOR: #Alpina steering wheel, short-shift kit
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    Brightwells June sale #1989 / Z1 / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B27 / #M20 / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E30 / #BMW / SOLD FOR: £ 25,000

    It seems like the Z1 has been on the cusp of going up in value for many years now and we’re somewhat surprised that they’ve not attracted investors and collectors in greater numbers. This example had covered just 53,000km (approximately 33k miles) and had a large history folder packed full of receipts and invoices. At £25,000 it looked like good value for money.
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    / #1989 / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW /
    SOLD FOR: €95,450
    Approx £72,700

    Proof, if any were needed, that the highest prices paid are for the really low mile immaculate examples. With just 2800km from new this Z1 was about as perfect as they come and had just had €4000 spent on it replacing the cambelt and refurbishing the brakes.
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    STROKE GENIUS HARTGE 2.7-LITRE Z1 Is a Z1 fitted with a Hartge 2.7 a good bet? / #BMW-Z1 / #BMW-Z1-Hartge-2.7 / #BMW-Z1-Hartge / #Hartge / #Hartge-Z1 / #1989 / #Hartge-Z1-2.7 / #BMW-M20 / #M20B27 / #M20

    Stroke of Genius. We love the #BMW-Z1 and here’s one that answers the lack of power criticism with a #Hartge 2.7 engine. If you thought the Z1 looked gorgeous and handled brilliantly but was lacking in the power stakes you could always have endowed it with some more urge thanks to a Hartge 2.7 conversion. Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory.

    ‘Look, that car is driving along with no doors’ – that’s what the assorted traffic cruising on the M40 this morning is thinking, it’s written all over their faces and readily decipherable from a spot of lip reading; confirmed by the camera phones that are being raised as we pull alongside. I could drive this Z1 with the doors ‘up’, of course, but for the sake of novelty it just has to be tried, even if it means a decidedly fresh blast of slipstream air up my left-hand trouser leg. Given the ‘motorway’ speed we’re moving along at that’s hardly surprising, but then this is no ordinary Z1 – as if the word could ever be applied to BMW’s late ‘80s sports car in the first place.

    I’ve never driven a Z1 before today, but I’ve certainly been curious ever since my school bus passed a black Z1, parked, usually, en-route to and from school. It was an attractive, exotic sort of machine, and that perception was more than just skin deep. For the time, the Z1 was quite unlike any other car in production.

    Said to have been inspired, at least in part, by comments from a journalist made to then-BMW chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim, the Z1 (Z for ‘zukunft’ meaning ‘future’) project was expedited by Wolfgang Reitzle, the famous head of BMW R&D in the 1980s and who would later go on to head up the Premier Automotive Group at Ford, before exiting the industry under something of a cloud.

    The car was first seen in concept guise during 1986, and was built by BMW Technik GmBH as a way of exploring new methods of production. Technik decided to illustrate its new thinking through the medium of the roadster, with another famous name at the helm: Ulrich Bez, later of Porsche and finally CEO at Aston Martin for many years. Production began in 1988, with cars delivered from 1989 - 1991 .

    The core of the Z1 is a galvanised steel monocoque, with notably high sills and an additional tubular frame that runs up the A pillars, increasing the rigidity of the structure. The floor is a sandwich of GRP and foam, bonded and bolted into place. This has three advantages: it’s strong, it won’t rust and it provides a ready-made smooth underfloor to the benefit of aerodynamics. In fact, #BMW maximised this feature by exiting the air over an aerodynamic rear silencer and gap in the rear valance, thereby negating the need for a fixed rear spoiler.

    The actual body you see, the skin if you like, is not in any way structural. It’s made from a mixture of Xenoy thermoplastic (the front, rear and side panels) and an epoxy glassfibre for the bootlid, roof cover and the bonnet. A special painting process was developed to maintain the required quality of finish on the panels. As for those iconic doors, they disappear down into the sills, and are operated by a push button in the rear panel from outside the car, and by pulling the door handle from inside in the normal fashion: it’s an odd feeling to do this for the first time and watch the door automatically drop rather than swing outwards.

    It wasn’t just the construction of the Z1 that was ground breaking; it actually contained a very forwardlooking mechanical layout that still has ramifications for today. Although the car is based heavily on the E30 325i of the same period, the inline ‘six’ was moved back within the wheel base and sits behind the front axle line, giving the car the near 50:50 weight distribution once so heavily marketed by BMW. The McPherson struts of a regular #BMW-E30 are used on the front axle, but the Z1’s other major innovation was the introduction of the so-called ‘Z-axle’ rear, a form of more advanced multi-link suspension that would transform the stability and handling of the forthcoming E36 3 Series that the Z1 pre-dated.

    What of that sonorous 2.5-litre engine? In standard form it cranks out 170hp, which although sounds faintly quaint by modern standards, it looks altogether more promising when you consider the diminutive proportions of the Z1. That is until you look up the kerbweight, and notice that at 1250kg, it’s 105kg heavier than a 325i. That may only be the weight of a very rotund passenger, but when your power-to-weight ratio is constructed more from a lack of mass than outright horsepower, these numbers matter. Correspondingly, the Z1’s performance stats were impressive, but hardly scorching for a car that promised so much in the handling stakes. Michael Scarlett, writing in Fast Lane magazine during December 1988, commented that: “It’s an exhilarating performer without being quite as quick as such a secure and responsive chassis deserves”.

    That’s where the car I’m due to drive today comes in. It’s parked to the rear of Birds Garage when I arrive, accessed by a stroll through a showroom full of nearly new BMWs of various descriptions. Next to them, the Z1 appears tiny, and in its resolutely dour and functional Urgrün Metallic paint it makes a completely different sort of impression. The design is very much of its time, but particularly attractive if you can appreciate the proportions, the restraint in the details and the precise nature of what styling flourishes there are. It’s especially successful at including the BMW kidney grille into a low-slung sports car shape, while the treatment at the rear of the car is redolent of the E36 3 Series. Talking of low slung, its meagre stature and the provision to drop the doors vertically was apparently inspired by Reitzle’s fond memories of his uncle’s Triumph TR6, where a cigarette end could be stubbed out on the road when pulled up at some traffic lights because the car was so low to the ground.

    ‘H5 KWR’ is for sale at Birds when I drive it, but has subsequently sold by the time this story will reach print. What makes it even more special than the other 25 Urgrün Z1s imported into the UK, out of a total UK allocation of 85 cars, is that it features a Hartge 2.7- litre conversion. The increase in displacement has been achieved by lengthening the stroke of the ‘six’ from 75mm to 81mm, with a bore size unchanged at 84mm. So configured, the total capacity is 2693cc, and by then shaving some material from the cylinder head the compression ratio has been taken from 8.8:1 to 9.7:1. Together with a remapping of the ECU, the peak power output jumps to 205hp (at 6100rpm instead of the 5800rpm peak in the standard car), with torque rising from 164lb ft at 4300rpm to 189lb ft at a slightly lower 4000rpm. Both figures make for exciting reading on paper, so I’m very keen to see how that will translate on the road.

    Before I thumb that incongruous door-opening button, there’s just one more thing to consider: price. The Z1 was always a very expensive car, retailing in Germany for around £26,000 once production started flowing. Opting for the Hartge engine meant forking out another £5201.39, including fitting, to Birds Garage, then based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. As a comparison, this would take the list price well beyond that of a new entry-level Porsche 911 of the period. Modifications didn’t end there either, with a full Hartge conversion – including wheels, body modifications and all the other usual tuner items – costing £11,500.

    The driver’s door falls down with a chuntering sound that doesn’t match the visual sophistication of the operation. It takes a bit more effort to climb in over the high sill, but once inside it strikes a nice balance between being a cosy sports car and not cramped. I take a look around the cabin and smile, because everything has that late-‘80s west German look and feel to it that as enthusiasts always raises a smile. For a sports car – a concept sports car brought to life at that – it is unerringly pragmatic, with a simple dial pack straight ahead and the familiar BMW switchgear of the time grouped closely together on a small central panel. The leather bucket-style seats have a curious ‘camo’ effect on their darker sections, which looks more like the sort of material you might find on a ladies winter jacket of the period, complete with chunky shoulder pads. The pre-airbag steering wheel is another Bauhaus-like example of simplicity, with a very small central boss: it’s a bit too much of a reach away for me, but fairly comfortable nonetheless.

    The hood has already been lowered; it was simple enough, requiring manual unlatching from the header rail and then folding underneath the panel behind the occupants’ heads. The M20 engine fires up with a fabulously organic rasp and rumble, and I’ve already decided I’m going to enjoy this car a great deal. You don’t get that sort of noise from a modern, lowpressure turbocharged four-cylinder engine, after all.

    The Hartge Z1 is very easy to drive around in slowly. The assisted steering requires no real effort, although at 3.9-turns lock-to-lock there’s a reasonable amount of arm-twirling to be done. The star so far is the gearbox, which again easily trumps anything modern in the way you can feel one cog giving way to the next. Maybe it’s the 24 years that have passed since it left the factory, grinding it down to smoothed perfection, but it’s just so nice to swap gears, often purely for the sake of it. Why can’t modern cars get these details so right?

    It’s the combination of the engine and ‘box that preoccupy the initial attention, the car snapping forward under hard acceleration but hardly forcing my torso back into the seat. But as soon as I’ve dropped the doors then it’s these that take over. It reminds me of those post office Sherpa vans you’d once see: hurtling around with the bare legs of a shorts-wearing postie pumping the pedals with the sliding door always swept back in the open position. If that sounds as though the feeling is one of being exposed in the Z1 then that’s only half true, for me, because the high sills mean you don’t feel as on show as you might, but the sudden blast of cold air confirms this is much more than simply dropping the side windows.

    There’s no structural downside to driving along like this, and not only does it garner plenty of kerbside attention, it also brings you closer to the sensations of driving – like you might get from a two-wheeled device. The Z1 turns out to be a smooth character. Predictably it’s much softer in setup and character than a more recent BMW roadster, which gives it a relaxed way of approaching a decent road. The steering response is a little slow, but that works with rather than against the initial roll rate, and once you have the car pointed into a corner it does feel very composed. The ‘six’ has a lusty response to the pedal, and a really invigorating soundtrack when wound out, although would I feel it was fast enough if I’d just dropped over five grand on it (bearing in mind five grand was a considerable sum 24 years ago)?

    That I’m not completely convinced by, but then I think that same sentiment applies to the whole Z1 package. It’s a car from the left-field, so there’s not a great deal of point in comparing it with any rival, either at the time or now with our ‘classic’ spectacles on. It does what it does; looks like nothing else, and dishes up a drive that gets more enjoyable the more you experience it.

    While we don’t have the weather today to truly maximise those sensations, it seems obvious to me that the Z1 is an esoteric sort of experience – a car that appeals to someone who thinks deeply about the package of talents it offers, and what it represents, and simply wants one. If the only real Achilles’ heel of the Z1 was its lack of outright performance, then this Hartge conversion neatly slays that criticism in one lunge of acceleration – doors open or closed.

    Thanks to: The car’s owner and Gordon Ince at Birds Garage – or 01753 657442 – this car has now sold, but contact Birds for any enquiries on other stock.



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    BMW CONCEPTS: This month it’s the futuristic #BMW-Vision-ConnectedDrive . The cars they could have made The Vision ConnectedDrive from #2011 was, unsurprisingly, all about connectivity. #BMW-Concept / #Adrian-van-Hooydonk

    BMW’s motor show concept cars tend to fall into two categories; those that are production-ready facsimiles of machines that are destined to hit the showrooms shortly, and those that give us a teasing view into what future BMWs may look like. It’s not rocket science to work out that the Vision ConnectedDrive that made its debut at the Geneva motor show in 2011 fell into the latter category, but there was still much that could be gleaned from the outlandish show car.

    It followed the traditional #BMW design style for its roadsters in that it had a long bonnet, a long wheelbase with the wheels pushed out to its four corners and the cockpit was set well back with a short stubby tail. The doors aped those of the #BMW-Z1 , but instead of dropping down into the sills to allow entry and exit, they slid forward and back into the front wing and rear panel. BMW said the car had a ‘layering’ principal in its design with ‘taut surfaces’ and distinctive flowing lines. In the flesh it was stunning. Its main purpose wasn’t to look gorgeous, though, it was designed to absorb information and relay it to the driver and passenger in innovative ways. The Vision #ConnectedDrive was BMW’s visualisation of ‘how cars could intelligently interact with their surroundings and support their passenger’s demands in a natural way and provide them with a driving experience they’ve never had before’. The concept’s project manager, Dr Eckhard Steinmeier, said: “A human being can hear and see, and feel heat and cold; we’re using the same sensory channels for this concept vehicle – it virtually extends the human sense organs.”

    It gathered information from the environment through cameras, sensors and antennas. They were designed to absorb information from the road and the car’s surroundings and on the concept, these flows of information were represented by the light tracks running up the bonnet and around the car to the interior and the passengers.

    Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s head of design, said: “We’re explaining or showing something that is actually invisible – the internet connectivity – and we’re doing it with three colours: red for safety, blue for infotainment and green for convenience.”

    One of the main themes of the Vision ConnectedDrive was how best to give the driver the information that would soon be flowing into the cars from an ever-increasing number of sensors and cameras. While the concept retained a traditionally sited dash display, it would be freely programmable to allow the driver to choose what was displayed.

    However, the main display of information was a headup display (HUD) that would show information such as road speed and satellite navigation directions in a three-dimensional display.

    In summing up the Vision ConnectedDrive, Adrian-van-Hooydonk put it thus: “In the future, BMWs will still look dynamic and elegant, and that’s what this concept car shows. Internet connectivity will become an integral part of vehicle design; the monitors and displays will become integrated, and synching your mobile phone with the car will become very easy.” BMW reckoned it was displaying the future, and who knows maybe some of its themes will still come to a showroom near you before too long…
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