Rare Rides: A BMW Z8 From 2001 Empties Your Wallet

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

We’ve had more BMWs featured on Rare Rides than any other marque. Aside from the BMW-powered Vixen motor home and the Alpina B7S, there was the Freeclimber, the mid-engine supercar flop called the M1, and the first experiment in the cabriolet Z category, the Z1.

Let’s see what happens when BMW makes a car eight times better than the Z1.

Some big names had their hands in the development of the Z8 you see before you. The design team was headed by Chris Bangle, and one Henrik Fisker drew up the exterior. There was a singular goal in mind at BMW: a follow-up tribute car to the rare, expensive, and beautiful 507 of the late 1950s. The 507 ended up a failure because it was so expensive (just 252 produced), and BMW was keen not to make the same mistake again.

To this end, the Z8 wore a base price of $128,000. Though that’s not exactly cheap, there were a couple of reasons to justify those six figures. Underneath the Z8 lie a complicated aluminum space frame, and each car was finished by hand at the BMW factory in Munich.

Body panels were also aluminum, keeping the roadster’s weight down to a relatively light 3,494 pounds. For reference, a similar Mercedes SL weighed between 4,125 and 4,455 with its steel construction. Under the long hood rested a substantial 4.9-liter V8 producing 400 horsepower. Developed by the people over at the M division, it was the same V8 as you’d find in a contemporary M5 sedan. Technically front- and mid-engined, the V8 is mounted behind the front axles, securing a 50/50 weight distribution.

All Z8s came with a color-keyed hardtop for all-weather motoring. Neon tubes illuminate the tail lamps and turn indicators, a sign the Z8 was from the time before LED all things.

Discussing the Z8 would not be complete without mention of its considerable use in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, released in 1999. Pierce Brosnan eschews his Aston Martin for the BMW, making use of it in several scenes. What a great movie! Moving on…

While some interior components look straight from the BMW parts bin, others seem unique to the Z8. Considering the era and the cost of the Z8, the interior is a bit underwhelming to your author’s eye. It’s all a bit piecemeal spartan and uneven panel gaps. But maybe that’s just me.

Right from the start, BMW intended the Z8 to become a collector’s item. In advance, the company promised to keep a stockpile of parts to last 50 years, citing the hand-built nature of the Z8. Many Z8s also received custom-order color schemes from the BMW Individual division, adding many thousands to the base price.

The plan of attainability and collector exclusivity appeal worked. Between 2000 and 2003, BMW shifted 5,703 Z8s, with 2,543 made to US specification. Today they fetch high prices at auction, with today’s example expecting bids between $180,000 and $225,000 per the listing (sitting at $100,000 at time of writing).

[Images via seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Feb 16, 2018

    Yummy, but for that kind of money I could have a 911 or more. I feel as if this will be just a paperweight for someone collecting dust most of the time. I suppose smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

  • Craiger Craiger on Feb 16, 2018

    I remember sitting in the Z8 while waiting for my 530 to be serviced. One thing I noticed was that the silver panel surrounding the shifter was glossy painted plastic and already scratched. As I recall the sticker was around $150k and I couldn't help but think why anybody would take this over a 360.

  • FreedMike Well, if you want a Swedish cockroach that's easy to work on, here's your ticket. Tad overpriced but it's an asking price, after all. And those old Volvo seats are divine. It'd be worth a look.
  • SCE to AUX "...has arguably advantaged the Asian nation by subsidizing electric vehicles, it has attempted to prioritize more domestic manufacturing by pouring money atop the relevant industries via the so-called Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act"Seems like you're trying to diss the Biden Administration before crediting its protectionism in the IRA.Chinese-made EV batteries aren't part of the subsidy program, so subsidizing EVs hasn't advantaged China. But the general sourcing of Chinese-made components - whether in a subsidized car or not - does help China.This is a general problem in the US economy. Everybody wants to wave the flag, but nobody wants to be the high-cost supplier, and nobody wants to pay more.The same scenario played out 50 years ago, except the competitor was Japan. At the end of the day, protectionism didn't work, and consumers got what they wanted.
  • Bkojote I'm so glad I bought a Kia Telluride instead of a Toyota Tacoma given all these recalls. I wanted an off roady looking vehicle so I could impress the secretary we hired but instead my wife left me when she saw my phone messages and now I'm stuck making the $1200 monthly payment until I can refinance at a lower rate than 28% even though I lost my job last month. I'm hoping the Kia dealers will let me trade to the new one with the bigger infotainment tooFunny enough the secretary's new boyfriend is driving a Tacoma but with the recall maybe I'll have a shot.
  • Buickman Stop the Invasion. Boycott Envision.I am the top Buick salesman in history, bar none.have never sold this Commie Car and will not until they are built stateside.BuickmanFounderGeneralWatch.com
  • SCE to AUX Nice car for a nice price. I'd replace the headlights.