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Covering Sports cars & Supercars

The Design of Speed

BMW Z1 vertically retracting doors

📸: Photo

We're still on the "Cool Designs" series, because let's face it, there are so many cool design elements to highlight, we could base an entire website about them. But we're only going to feature a few more before we move on to another topic. As for this post, we're looking at the crazy doors BMW designed for it's limited edition Z1 convertible.

The Z1, produced from 1989 to 1991, was a tiny roadster designed by BMW lead designer Harm Lagaay. Powered by a 2.5 liter inline 6 making 168 horsepower, the diminutive car wasn't extremely fast, but ultimate speed was obviously not the point of this design exercise. In 1989, Mazda introduced its wildly popular Miata, and BMW saw a market opportunity. The Z1 led to the introduction of the Z3 roadster, a very nice design but with conventional doors.

📸: Photo

The Z1 doors were electrically lowered and raised, and included windows that were also electrically controlled. The nature of the design meant that the driver and passenger had to negotiate over rather wide sills in order to enter the cockpit. Challenging ingress is nearly considered a hallmark of sports cars!

📸: Photo

The Z1 had striking lines, reminiscent of the M1 supercar and the 8 series coupe of the era. But the sliding doors provided the most "wow" factor, even if they were impractical for the most part.

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