30th anniversary of the BMW ALPINA Roadster Limited Edition

In the period between 5th July 1990 and 19th September 1991, 66 BMW ALPINA Roadster Limited Edition (RLE) units were produced based on the BMW Z1 in the Buchloe manufactory. The model not only caused a sensation thanks to its appearance, but also featured awe-inspiring technical details and an extraordinary driving experience. The first units will achieve classic car status this year. A short retrospective on the occasion of the 30th anniversary...

The basis alone is already a legend: the BMW Z1

The Z signifies future, because the BMW Z1 was, after all, originally developed as a research vehicle by BMW Technik GmbH, established in 1985, under the auspices of Ulrich Bez. The roadster with a front-mid-engine, a sheet steel monocoque chassis, plastic body shell and doors that disappear into the side sills at the touch of a button was unlike anything that came before it and captivated visitors at the 1987 International Motor Show in Frankfurt as a concept vehicle. By 1988 the BMW Z1 was finally ready for series production: even the retractable doors were approved for road use and conferred cult status on the BMW Z1 from the outset. The then small series that laid the foundation for the popular BMW Z model series comprised 8,000 units.

Exclusive edition

The small series was followed by the Limited Edition: ALPINA provided elegant 20-spoke wheels and the ALPINA Deco-Set, the unmistakeable exterior decorative stripes, bestowing an even greater degree of exclusivity on the external appearance of the BMW Z1. In addition, the engine technology was also further refined: thanks to an extra 200 cubic centimetres, ALPINA cylinder head machining, MAHLE cast pistons and a different camshaft, the power was increased to 200 hp, a rise of 30 hp compared with the standard BMW model. The torque was increased by 39 Nm to 261 Nm, making the BMW RLE noticeably more responsive. As a result, the BMW ALPINA RLE goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds. Incomparable open-air driving pleasure – after all, the retractable doors can be left retracted in the sills during the journey.

Stunning details

Naturally, the BMW ALPINA RLE did not lack the loving attention to detail typical of ALPINA. The individual build number of each BMW ALPINA RLE, for example, can be found in the emblems of the hand-stitched leather steering wheel, the gearknob and the alloy wheels, as well as in the exclusive type plate fitted in the interior and, last but not least, also on the hand-engraved key fob, both of which are made of solid silver.

Only 66 units for the world

The BMW ALPINA RLE was particularly sought-after by the detail-oriented, technology-savvy customers from Japan: more than half of the units produced were shipped to the Land of the Rising Sun, where the BMW Z1 model was not available. 31 units were registered in Europe, namely in Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands. The non-binding recommended retail price for the collector’s item from Buchloe was DM 116,000 incl. 14 % VAT.

Technical data

Number of cylinders6 in line
Bore/stroke84/81 mm
Capacity 2,693 cm³
Max output147 kW (200 hp) at 6,000 rpm
Max torque261 Nm at 4,900 rpm
Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h7.1 seconds
Maximum speed231 km/h