Rare Rides: A BMW Z8 From 2001 Empties Your Wallet

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a bmw z8 from 2001 empties your wallet

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]

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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.

  • BklynPete So let's get this straight: Ford hyped up the Bronco for 3 years, yet couldn't launch it to match the crazy initial demand. They released it with numerous QC issues, made hay for its greedy dealers, and burned customers in the process. After all that, they lose money on warranties. The vehicles turn out to be a worse ownership experience than the Jeep Wrangler, which hasn't been a paragon of reliability for 50 years. The same was true of the Aviator, Explorer, several F-150 variants, and other recent product launches. The Maverick is the only thing they got right. Yet this company that's been at it for 120 years. Just Brilliant. Jim Farley's non-PR speak: "You don't get to call me an idiot. I get to call myself an idiot first."Farley truly seems hapless, like the characters his late cousin played. Bill Ford is a nice guy but more than a bit slow on the uptake too. They have not had anything resembling a quality CEO since Alan Mulally turned the keys over to Mark Fields - the mulleted glamor boy who got canned after 3 years when the PowerShi(f)t transaxles exploded. He more recently helped run Hertz into the ground with bad QC and a faulty database that had them arresting customers. Ford is starting to resemble Chrysler in the mid-Seventies Sales Bank era. Well, at least VW has cash and envies Ford's distribution reach and potential profitability.
  • Mike Beranek This guy called and wants his business model back.
  • SCE to AUX The solid state battery is vaporware.As for software-limited pack capacity: Batteries are obviously the most expensive component of an EV, so on the rare occasion that pack capacity is dramatically limited (as in your 6-year-old example), it's because economies of scale briefly made sense at the time.Mfrs are not in the habit of overbuilding pack capacity just for fun, and then charging the customer less.Since then, pack capacities have been slightly increased via software because the mfr decides they can sacrifice a little bit of the normal safety/wear margin in the interest of range. We're talking single-digit percentages, not the 60/75 kWh jump in your example.Every pack has maybe 10% margin built into it, so eating into that today (via range increases) means it's not available to make up for battery degradation tomorrow. My 4-year-old EV still has its original range(s) and 100% SOH, but that's surely because it is slowly consuming the margin built into the pack.@Matt Posky: Not everything is a conspiracy to get your credit card account, and the lengthy editorial about this has nothing to do with solid state batteries.
  • JLGOLDEN In order for this total newcomer to grab and hold attention in the US market, the products MUST be an exceptional value. Not many people will pay name-brand money for the pretty mystery. I can appreciate the ambition of selling $50K+ crossovers, but I think they will go farther with their $30K-$40K offerings.
  • Dukeisduke They're where Tesla was when it started - a complete unknown. I haven't heard anything about a dealer network. How are they going to sell these? Direct like Tesla? Franchises picked up by existing new car dealers?
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