DRIVING THE ZED BACK CATALOGUE
THE GORGEOUS ONE: 328
1936 1940 + 1971cc 6-cyl, 80bhp + 93mph i 328 played a pivotal role in establishing BMW’s credentials as a maker of ine engines and race-winning cars – in ’36 a prototype 328 took victory at the Nürburgring, establishing BMW’s sporting pedigree. In 2018 the silky engine’s still the star, smooth and powerful, and the whole car feels tight despite its age. Ponderous rack-and-pinion steering means you have to get physical to hustle it.
THE ODDBALL ONE: Z1
1989 1993 + 2494cc 6-cyl, 170bhp + 141mph i Concept car styling means the Z1’s classic status was a given from day one. Just as well, because this isn’t the Ultimate Driving Machine by any stretch of the imagination. The six is wheezy and needs revs to produce anything meaningful, while the front end lacks feedback – a product of the E30 chassis beneath. Feels roughly twice as fast as the claimed 141mph thanks to the cockpit’s extreme breeziness.
THE BIG MONEY ONE: Z8
1999 2003 + 4941cc V8, 400bhp + 155mph i The 507 might be the prettiest car BMW has ever built but the big Z8 stands out as one of the very best. Sensational to cruise in, it has a far nicer interior than anything BMW makes today, with real design lair and artfully implemented retro detailing. Exceptional ride works happily with the big V8 and its monstrous torque band. Manual shift is also among Munich’s inest. Joyous.
GOT SIX Halo M40i gets the snarling 336bhp B58 straight-six for tuneful thrills and a serious turn of speed. SOUND BASIS 50:50 weight distribution and lizard low centre of gravity promise much, as does an ultra-sti structure (for a soft-top…). REFINEMENT TO BURN Roof up, softtop is actually more reined than most tintop two-seaters. Adaptive dampers help stretch new Z4’s impressive bandwidth. THOU SHALT NOT ENCROACH The folding metal roof has gone, saving weight and helping ensure the boot doesn’t occasionally have to store bits of your roof.