Someone paid nearly $95K for it at RM Sotheby’s auction making this rare, box-fresh BMW a real bargain
February 3, 2023 at 13:29
by Chris Chilton
Finding a box-fresh, zero-mile example of a modern classic like the BMW Z1 sounds like a dream come true. But what about about finding one that is so unused it has FEWER than zero miles?
It sounds crazy, but that’s essentially the pitch action house RM Sotheby’s used in its listing for this stunning Toprot red 1990 Z1. The odometer shows 999,997 km (621,370 miles), which, if you hadn’t seen the spectacular condition of the rest of the car, might make you think it had been moonlighting as a Munich taxi.
But the auctioneers believe setting the odometer just below zero was a fairly common practice carried out by BMW to offset any mileage accrued during delivery. The thinking is that by the time the car had been wheeled around, loaded onto various transporters and had its PDI checks carried out it would have zero miles on the clock when the customer grabbed the keys ready to put some real miles on the clock.
Except that didn’t happen in this case. This car’s first owner, Danish 24 Hours of Le Mans driver Jens Winther, took delivery in February 1990 and then stored the car in his personal collection alongside a mid-engined M1, adding almost zero miles. Winther kept the car until 2014, but the new owner also opted not to drive the Z1, so it still looks like it’s just rolled out of BMW’s factory, and still has a negative mileage recorded on the odometer.
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Almost as incredible as this Z1’s bonkers mileage and box-fresh condition is the fact that it only sold for €86,250 ($94,700), which sounds ridiculously cheap to us. BMW only built 8,000 Z1s between March 1989 and June 1991 and there can’t be many as frozen in time as this one. You just know if it had been a Porsche 911 of the same vintage, or a BMW M3 or M5 with so few miles, the price would have been much higher.
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And though all of those cars would offer more performance than the Z1’s stock E30 325i-derived 168 hp (170 PS) inline six, only the BMW roadster features those cool drop-down doors.
What do you think of RM Sotheby’s explanation for the mileage? Have you ever heard of an automaker doing something like that?
We’ve reached to BMW, both in the States and in Europe, and will update this story should they get back to us.