The BMW Z1 Coupe is, by and large, not even a car, but a model. It was presented for one of the anniversaries of the innovative development department of the Bavarian company (the department is also known as BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH). The “coupe” was shown to the public in 1991.
By that time, production of the roadster Z1 (where Z is taken from the German word Zukunft – “future”) was coming to an end. The Z1 was originally created by BMW as a platform for testing new materials and principles of body construction, but the heated interest in the car at the Frankfurt Motor Show spurred the Bavarians to put it into production.
Appetite, as you know, comes with food – after the success of the roadster Z1, BMW began to think about how to consolidate the Z series position on the market. The variant of a coupe, and also all-wheel drive version was considered for the future. To work on the prototype of a possible future coupe, the base of the open-top Z1 was borrowed. BMW has been hiding from the public for quite a long time.
The BMW Z1 Coupe became the evidence that it is possible to create a coupe on the basis of roadsters, and not vice versa. During its construction, it became clear that the same chassis can serve as a base for several absolutely different cars at once. By the way, the project had a second name, unofficial – Z2.
The knowledge received during the development of the Z1 Coupe helped BMW to optimize the creation of its future models – both technically and in terms of design. However, the “sideways” closed Z1 remained in the form of the only full-scale mockup.
The Z1 Coupe never saw the roads, being only a mock-up, but it sowed the foundations of a new strategy, which BMW applied more than once in the future. The fruits of this new strategy were ripe for the release of the company’s second roadster with the letter Z – Z3.
In 1995, the new BMW Z3 was presented to the public. Though the car turned out elegant and impetuous, it did not cause such “wow-effect” as Z1 in society. Much brighter was the coupe Z3, shown three years later, in 1998. It was it that embodied the developments received during the creation of the Z1 Coupe.
The idea of the roadster Z, which was transformed into a practical two-seat coupe, was also reflected in the first generation BMW Z4 – in 2002 the roadster debuted, and four years later the coupe. And for this little variety, we have to thank the odd-looking but historically significant layout.