The Alpina RLE (Roadster Limited Edition) was based on the Z1 and introduced in 1987. The RLE cost 116000 D-Mark and was probably the most exclusive car on the german market. Mr Bovensiepen stated at its introduction that this car should be put straight into collections. It seems most owners have followed his recommendation - examples of the RLE rarely come up for sale.
The BMW Z1 is considered by many to be underpowered with its 2,5 litre six-cylinder engine. Alpina have solved that problem by replacing the engine with the 2.7 litre engine from the B3 2.7. This increases the power from 170bhp to a guaranteed 200bhp and 261Nm but probably more according to Alpina.
The standard Z1 has a really good chassis with its advanced rear-axle. So the only Alpina modifications to the suspension was to fit shorter springs at front. Together with the Alpina wheels, 17in with 235/40 tires, that makes the RLE look sportier and more aggressive.
The RLE has some really nice features such as the hand-stitched steering wheel which has the text “Limited edition” and the car´s production number written around the Alpina marque. The text and production number also appears on the die-cast covers for the wheels and keyring.
In Auto Motor und Sport´s test of the RLE they achieved a 0-100 km/h time of 7,1 seconds, 0-160km/h in 17,8 and a top speed of 228 km/h. The ordinary Z1 needed 8,4 seconds to reach 100 km/h, 23,0 to reach 160 km/h and had a top speed of 219 km/h.
The “ordinary” Z1 wasn’t exactly common however the RLE was a limited-edition series, only 66 cars were built. Half of the production was sold in Japan and only 33 cars remained in Europe.
As an interesting aside, Alpina modified a small number of Z1 to RLE specification. The total number of cars is rumoured to be 7. Although they are technically identical to an Alpina RLE, these cars do not have an Alpina chassis number or numbered plaque.