It boggles my mind that the Z8 design is now 24 years old. First penned in 1995 and shown at the Japanese Motorshow in 1997, the Z8 looked outrageous and the recipe sounded perfect with internals were borrowed from the E39 M5. That meant the S62 quad-cam double-VANOS 4.9 liter V8 cranking out 394 horsepower and routed exclusively through a Getrag 6-speed manual transmission driving only the back wheels. Coupled with Henrik Fisker’s sumptuous lines, the Z8 managed to both channel the history of BMW’s landmark 507 and be a cutting-edge design at the same time. It was the halo car that helped to lead BMW into a new Millennium. Sold for sometimes upwards of $160,000 they were instantly collector fodder, but these cars also caught headlines almost immediately due to problems with their aluminum space frames deforming in the shock tower area.
Between collectability, the up-front expense and fear of destroying the chassis, a fair amount of these cars appear today with very low mileage. So why look at this one? Well, it is well below average mileage, but mainly – the color. Only 5,703 Z8s were produced, putting it roughly on level footing with the E24 M6 in terms of scarcity. Worldwide only 325 were selected in Topaz Blue Metallic, and of those this is one of the 131 produced for the 2000 model year and only 30 sent to the U.S., 21 of which had the Crema interior of today’s example:
There is a Z8 that lives near me. It’s silver with a red interior and is quite striking. I don’t think its owner drives it daily, but if the weather is nice I see him just about each morning (presumably) heading to the office. Top down, lovely exhaust note burbling in the background. It’s a beautiful car with a road presence few other cars possess. That presence isn’t in the same way certain high performance machines command the road. It definitely isn’t the way a Dodge Hellcat commands the road. Actually it’s about the opposite of that. It’s grace and elegance and timelessness wrapped together. With almost 400 hp it performs pretty well too.
I’ve said before that I didn’t really like the Z8 when it debuted. I love them now.
The one we see here is not the one owned by my daily driving neighbor. Not at all. This one, a Triple Black 2001 BMW Z8 located in Connecticut, has 15 miles on it. Yes, you read that correctly, 15!
In my time looking at cars owned by the famous, I’ve run across a wide variety of people. From earlier this week of the ‘King of Basketball’ to the ‘King of Rock & Roll, I’ve even looked at actual kings. Sometimes the cars have a cool story but most of the time it is merely a name on an old piece of paper or if I’m really lucky, a photo or two of that person in the car. But today’s car, the gorgeous BMW Z8, was owned by a guy who changed technology and how we use it forever â€” and I could really care less.
A few weeks back I was sitting outside enjoying a beverage and some fantastic fall weather when a Z8 drove by. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I will readily admit that I wasn’t a fan of the Z8’s styling when it debuted. I’m not sure exactly why, but it’s purposeful blending of vintage and modern didn’t appeal to me in my early 20s. But it’s aged incredibly well, i.e. not at all, and as I’ve aged I have now come to appreciate these machines much more. I’m fortunate enough to live in the vicinity of a Silver one and while I don’t see it frequently I do cross its path from time to time. And I’m glad I do. With around 2,500 sold in the States you’re not likely to see one often and as with most limited-production cars prices are high, but there’s really a lot to love about these BMWs. The performance ain’t too shabby either.
On a recent visit to Berlin, I was surprised to come across a black BMW Z8 parked on the street in Die Mitte, a central borough of the German capital. Since reunification 25 years ago, a lot of money and talent has flooded into this city, with high end shops and consumers with Euros to spend. The Z8, though, was a bit of short lived flagship for the Bavarian marque, rarely seen in the wild today. At first values held steady to right around where they sold for new, but now collectors are becoming hip to this rare roadster. The fact that James Bond made the Z8 famous in The World Is Not Enough just adds to the vehicle’s cache. This Z8 for sale in Florida has just over 5,000 miles on the odometer and will catch your eye in its red hue, a departure from the silver and black paint jobs that usually adorned these Bimmers.
Debuting at the end of the 1990s, the BMW Z8 arrived during a time when carmakers were exploring the retro styling theme, such as Volkswagen with their New Beetle and Ford with their revived Thunderbird. The Z8 was meant to harken back to the 1950s during the heyday of the 507, a limited production V8 roadster that made an impact with its dramatic styling. Fast forward to 1999 and the Z8 arrived with a V8, this time shared with the E39 M5. The engine was placed aft of the front axle for optimum weight distribution. One innovation the car employed was neon lighting for its tail lamps and turn signals. This was perhaps an answer to what modern day LED lighting can offer. Most Z8s you come across are silver, but this Topaz Blue over red leather example is a real eye-catching combination.
Every time I come across a Z8, I start thinking about the funny place it holds in the market, slightly appreciating but not very appreciated, an interesting but maligned attempt at a German Cobra… and then I see it from the rear. While the F-Type’s reiteration may be making a play for the top derrieres list, the Z8 viewed from behind erases reason and makes me dream of using the monster S62 to slither a mountain road. This one looks classic in black and very serious with the hard top on. The Teutonic, measured approach to a passionate type of car makes them a bit of an odd duck, and a Z8 owners meeting would most likely host more of investors than enthusiasts. Alas, I dig these cars, but will never own one.
The Z8 is a bit of a wallflower these days, its handsome looks appreciated by those who remember when it hit the roads but a less eye-grabbing than the ultra-faceted and streaked cars coming out 12 years later. Even to the trained eye, they don’t show up that often, and it seems like a lot of owners are hiding them away in the hopes of selling them for more later. I still get excited when they do come out of their garages, and the today’s silver example reminds me of the sunny afternoon drive 7 years ago that shifted my opinion on convertibles. Structural rigidity be damned, there’s nothing wrong with having your ears a few unobstructed feet from the S62’s rumble.
Our reader Kyle recently requested to see more magnesium wheels; as I have a bit of a early magnesium BBS wheel fetish myself, I was only too happy to oblige. Here’s a quick selection of the magnesium wheels on Ebay – BBS isn’t the only magnesium wheel producer, but they’ve got some of the best designs. Interestingly, a few years back many people thought these wheels were throw-aways as no one wanted old race wheels, but a resurgence in popularity has once again made them a valuable commodity. From vintage racing Porsches to modern track cars, magnesium wheels are still some of the lightest you can get and in the 1980s they were one of the few ways to get really wide wheels on your race car. Generally, BBS wheels with an “E” prefix denote magnesium centers, though the new E88s below claim to be forged aluminum. I’m secretly hoping to find a set of languishing BBS E51s – they were originally 4×108 15″ and 16″ wheels fitted to 924s and would bolt right up to my Audi. What are your favorite?
The BMW Z8 is one of the most exotic cars I’ve driven, though I recognize it’s pretty mundane on the exotic-car spectrum. Maligned for not having the chassis to back up the looks or the M5’s bonkers S62 V8, I didn’t care as I was not on Dunsfold but raging a few foothill roads behind Palo Alto. Hearing 4.9-liter masterpiece unbuffered by any roof at all is worth it, and then you realize you’re driving a Bond car with looks so good Jaguar stole most of them for the new superstar F-type. At first I thought its 10k miles were a low rarity, but a little more investigation reveals that most of the Z8s for sale have very few miles. This is a shame, as few cars seem more suited for long cruises up and down the coast. I guess they’re mainly garage padding and the owners are ready to cash in, as they regularly sell slightly above their original MSRP.
Engine: 4.9l S62 V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 10,600 mi
One Owner Z 8 10,600 miles, 6 speed manual, Hardtop with storage cart, owners manuals, 2 original keys, boot cover, full car cover, trickle charger, like new, no accidents, clean Carfax.
“Hardtop with a storage cart” makes me laugh, but it’s clear this has been well cared for and has spent the majority of its 12 years inside. 10k miles isn’t the lowest but it’s close, and while almost $133k is big money no matter how you count it, it’s a good price for a Z8 this well cared for. I won’t be buying it, but given the means, I think these cars are underrated and a total blast.