The BMW Z8 profile


Bavaria has produced many great cars over the years, but what was presented at the 1999 IAA has to be one of its most impressive. Designed by Henrik Fisker, the BMW Z8 deserves all of the admiration it receives today. Clearly inspired by the design language of its BMW 507 ancestor, the Z8 is something of a modern-day incarnation of the iconic 1950s roadster.


BMW Z8 styling

The BMW Z8 bridges the gab between contemporary and classic. Despite being launched in 1999, this sports car inspired design traits such as the stylistic taillights, a starter button and LED indicators that can still be seen in BMWs of today.

If you have the rare opportunity to climb into the driver’s seat, the sheer attention to detail within the cabin will leave a lasting impression. Buyers could choose from a combination of striking two-tone leather for upholstery, with many going for a red and black combination. There is also the classically styled steering wheel with its fine metal struts and lack of modern buttons. Instrumentation is not mounted in front of the driver, but centrally. The view through the raked windscreen is of the long bonnet that stretches off towards the horizon.


BMW’s motorsport genius

Something that defines the Z8, aside from its handsome looks, is its impressive engine. This incredible 4.9-litre high-performance V8 with double VANOS, BMW’s own variable camshaft control, is actually derived from a BMW M5 – at a time when the E39 M5 was the fastest saloon in the world at the time. Purists rejoiced as the V8 was only available in conjunction with a slick six-speed manual transmission. The car produces 400bhp with 500Nm torque, resulting in impressive performance due to this roadster weighing 200kg less than an E39. How does the V8 sound at 7000rpm with the roof open? Majestic!

 BMW Z8 Exclusivity comes at a cost

The values of BMW Z8s have climbed to unprecedented heights. Where the roadster cost 235,000 DM when new, vehicles in good condition can’t be found for under 200,000 euros. So it remains a dream for the vast majority – especially since only 5703 examples left the factory. It’s hard to believe that this roadster is over 20 years-old!

Adding to the Z8’s cache of cool, James Bond also drove one in “The World Is Not Enough” starring Pierce Brosnan. But even without the help of 007, the BMW Z8 would have found automotive fame on its own merits.


Text Oliver Grüneberg // Fotos BMW AG, Classic Trader

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