The story of the BMW Z8 is short but sweet. It reigned supreme in the convertible market from 1999 until 2003. A two-seat sports car with exceptional style and power, the Z8 was a one-of-a-kind performance machine from a company that was already quite good at building exceptional automobiles.
The infamous Chris Bangle was head of BMW design at the time. He is most famous for his interpretation of the rear styling for the BMW 5 and 7 Series vehicle. His “bangle butt” was the brunt of many jokes back then, but ultimately he would have the last laugh. As it turned out, car companies around the world soon starting showing their own version of the “bangle butt”, with notables such as Lexus jumping in with both feet.
To look at the BMW Z8, it would be hard to imagine Bangle as the lead designer. He wasn’t. In fact the exterior was sculpted by Henrik Fisker, founding partner and executive chairman of the now defunct Fisker Automotive. The concept was designed to invoke passionate memories of the 1956-59 BMW 507 and it worked. Until it was discontinued in 2003, the Z8 was considered one of the most unique 2-doors ever built by BMW.
Power came in the form of a 4.9-litre 32-valve V8 engine. It produced 400 horsepower and 370 lb.-ft. of torque. Matched to a 6-speed manual transmission, it was rated to achieve 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. Even by today’s standards, this puts it in near supercar territory. By comparison, the 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE convertible equipped with a V8 achieves the same speed in 4.3 seconds. Not bad for technology that is 11 years old and counting.
The BMW Z8 was built on an aluminum chassis. Neon exterior lighting added a touch of class, with a hard top included for the purchase price north of $130,000. Today, if you can find, you will most likely be required to pay considerably more, with some 2001 models topping $350,000 US according the Hemmings Collector Car Marketplace.