Okay. Let’s cut right to the chase. The BMW Z1 is an amazing machine.
- Less than 10,000 were ever made.
- They have an E30 325i powertrain under them.
- The plastic body was designed to be swapped by owners.
- And they all had those incredible, vertically powered doors.
If BMW made a Miata, right? I remember seeing them once in a while back when I lived in Germany in the early 90s. It was always summer, and they were always top—and doors—down so the owners could enjoy proper, summer motoring.
I also seem to remember some drama related to the square headlights. Just goes to show that, even 30 years ago, people were freaking out about new models that didn’t stick to the common automotive aesthetic. But enough of my thoughts on the BMW Z1, let’s talk to an owner!
It’s an amazing machine!
[tgp] Introductions: My understanding is you’ve got THREE very nice, matching Bimmers. Is that correct? Anything else you’d like to mention? Tell us a little bit about yourself!
[fs] Yes, you are right. I have the E34 with an E39 front, the Z1, and a new X1.
On BMW Z1s
[tgp] The most important automotive opinions are those of real, actual owners. The BMW Z1 is a very special car. As a Z1 owner, could you share a little unvarnished truth with the rest of us? What do you love about them? What do you not love about them?
[fs] Love! You can really only love this car. There were only 8,000 made. Today there is a maximum of 5,000 cars left. It is a very rare car with an incredible fascination. The sliding doors that can stay down while driving make the car unique.
The entire body of the car is made of plastic and can be dismantled in a very short time in a few simple steps. But that is precisely what leads to problems. After more than 30 years, the parts break with light touch or temperature fluctuations. For this reason, all the plastic body parts on my Z1 have been replaced with carbon fiber.
[tgp] May I ask how you made all new carbon body panels? And do you have any pictures of the car during that process? I mean, that’s incredible in every way.
[fs] I didn’t make the parts. It was a friend of mine. He has a company and he can make all Z1 parts.
[tgp] How did you end up in this camp? What makes the Z1 so special? How does it complement your other Bimmers?
[fs] This car has always been a dream. I saw the car when it was presented in Frankfurt in 1987 at the IAA [auf Deutsch: Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, auf English: International Auto Show] and I swore to myself that I would drive this car one day. It took until 2015 when I was able to fulfill this dream.
I brought the car back to Germany from Monaco. To this day I haven’t regretted it. I called the owner on Friday, flew to France on Saturday, and drove back to Germany on Sunday. In Germany, the car was completely dismantled by me and completely rebuilt to my ideas. All parts have been reworked or replaced with new parts.
Originally, the car was red and, like all my cars, is now Marrakech Brown. I’ve loved this color for over 10 years. The interior is completely in leather. I built an air suspension for myself. Rims are from OZ and completely polished.
The BMW Community (im Deutschland)
[tgp] How’s the BMW community doing in Germany these days? Where do y’all hangout, share tech, and whatnot? (I’m curious how it might compare with the USDM BMW and domestic car communities.)
[fs] Because of Corona there are currently no meetings. But I think that it is this way all over the world at the moment. The scene has also changed a lot in general. In the past, people changed a lot on their cars and created their own unique machines. Today it is mostly only new cars with air suspension and different rims. I find this change very sad. The tuning community is divided into old and new. Brand hatred is also very common. Everyone just loves their brand and hates the others.
[tgp] BMW is a very popular marque outside Germany. Many people consider it a premium brand. As a clear BMW fan, do you feel the brand is popular in Germany more because of its vehicles or because it is the “home team”, like Mercedes, Porsche, and VAG?
[fs] I think that has nothing to do with the fact that it is a German brand. I just think that BMW builds great cars. Technology and optics. This is the reason why the brand is so popular all over the world. You simply identify with this brand everywhere.
This Gearhead Life
[tgp] When you think about automotive culture in general, what stands out as being the biggest issue we should be working on together? What’s your biggest concern and what should we be doing about it?
[fs] I can only speak for Germany. We are a nation that probably builds the best cars in the world.
Also in terms of technology, it is sad how Germany wants to abolish the automobile as we know it now. Diesel and gasoline should disappear completely, although the technology is among the best in the world?
E-cars are pushed even though the technology and infrastructure are not fully developed. This technology is also no cleaner. For me it is very sad. I love this hobby and I’m glad that I’ve been able to experience tuning with great cars and people for over 30 years.
[tgp] Who’s made the biggest difference in your life with cars? How so?
[fs] The question is not easy to answer. When I was young I was never interested in cars. I’ve always ridden my bike and never had a moped. When I turned 18, my father told me he always drove a BMW. “Frank we bought a new BMW (E30). If you want, you can have our old BMW.” It was an E21.
From then on, my entire life in terms of cars has changed. I tuned the car and drove to meetings. That was over 30 years ago. The people I got to know through this hobby all over Europe are part of my life today.
Brown Car Club
You gotta love brown cars. Especially when they’re rare and well cared-for. Frank’s Z1 is amazing in its own right, but the time and effort (and money) he’s put into it only make it moreso. And when it’s parked among two other, Marrakech Brown Bimmers? Divine.
Tolle = Amazing.
Zukunft = Future.
Thank you for sharing your amazing machine(s) with us, Frank! Vielen Dank!