With this low-slung city commuter BMW Z13, the first signs of BMW’s vision of future megacity vehicles become evident—a line of thinking that twenty years later would result in the revolutionary all-electric i3. Though the Z13’s ultra-low front and goldfish-bowl windscreen now look dated, in its layout it anticipated many modern developments.
The fourcylinder motorcycle engine at the rear echoes the arrangement of today’s Smart and Renault Twingo, and the three-seater layout, with a central driving position, is precisely that specified by Gordon Murray—both for his remarkable BMW-powered McLaren F1 supercar, first shown the year before, and in his recent series of city-car concepts employing his radical iStream construction. To suit its premium aspirations, the Z13 was packed with luxury equipment, even including an in-car THINKING SMALL fax machine. With its lightweight-aluminum structure, the Z13 promised excellent economy for its time. However, that time never came, as BMW’s takeover of small-car specialist Rover the following year signaled an end to any production plans.