Overview & Reviews
Introduced at the 1999 Frankfurt Auto Show, the BMW Z8 sports car was the company's conception of what its famous 507 roadster would have been if built past the 1950s. Stylistically, it offered many of the same cues, such as a long, sloping hood with round headlight blisters, twin-kidney grille, distinctive vents aft of the front wheels and a striking leather interior with a simplistic layout.
Not all was retro, though. The Z8's aluminum space frame was draped with aluminum body panels, and hidden from view was BMW's typical front strut/rear multilink suspension arrangement. For power, the Z8 relied on the same engine used for the third-generation M5 sedan.
The BMW Z8 was always intended to be a "halo" car, designed to draw attention to BMW and lead to increased sales of other BMW vehicles. BMW produced it for just four years with an annual production rate of about 1,500 cars. Naturally, Z8 ownership is an exclusive club. Given that the 507 is coveted by collectors and a good one can fetch more than half a million dollars, a similar future might be in store for the Z8.
Most Recent BMW Z8
The BMW Z8 roadster was produced for the 2000-'03 model years. It possessed all the necessary ingredients of a true sports car: superior performance, outstanding design and rarity.
Its all-aluminum chassis was exceptionally stiff and light, resulting in exemplary road feel. Driving hard, one could feel what was happening -- and, more important, what was going to happen -- better than seeing it. This lent extraordinary confidence when exploring the outer limits of its performance envelope.
Likewise, the steering, suspension and braking systems connected to this super-solid chassis operated with pinpoint precision. Many chassis components were borrowed from BMW's world-class sedans and recalibrated, and the resulting ride wasn't quite as supple as those vehicles but certainly not harsh either.
Under the hood was a 4.9-liter V8 producing 394 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a standard six-speed manual transmission. (The one-year run of the Z8-based BMW Alpina came with an automatic transmission.) Thanks to its electronic variable valve timing system, the Z8 could purr about town, and then let loose with a shriek once pointed down a deserted road. In tests of the time, the Z8 typically posted 0-60-mph times in the mid-4-second range.
In general, the BMW Z8 was a pretty easy car to drive. And thanks to BMW's effective Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, the Z8 was kind to drivers who weren't professionally trained. It combined antilock brakes, traction control and cornering stabilization to ensure that over-eager drivers were appropriately reined in before they completely lost their substantial investment in a smoldering heap.
Due to its stellar performance, early association with James Bond in The World is Not Enough and the reaction of people on the street, there was always a feeling that you were driving a surreal Hollywood creation. When it rolled down the boulevard, people were mesmerized by its stunningly unique styling and the sonorous note of its exhaust system.
Perhaps even more beguiling was its interior. In a nod to the past, BMW moved the speedometer, tachometer and other gauges to the center of the dash. The retro-styled steering wheel also evoked classic sports cars with its three metal-rodded spokes and fat, leather-wrapped rim. What wasn't brushed aluminum was covered in supple leather, including parts of the dash, center console, door skins and even the rollover bars. The final touch was a viscerally black push-button starter located next to the steering wheel. Turn the ignition key to On, depress that button and the muscular V8 roared to life -- a thrill every time.
Though we've raved over nearly every aspect of the BMW Z8, there were several gripes: an outlandish price, a fussy manual tonneau cover and excessive top-down cockpit noise. But these complaints weren't enough to turn us off, for the Z8 provided as much joy to sit in as to drive.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 41.00
They don't make them like this anymore - 2001 BMW Z8
By twosmalltowns - February 29 - 1:08 pm
This is a fabulous car: exciting to drive, fels great. Just don't expect to get out of the gas station too quickly - people are always coming over to stare and chat. I have had people wave me down on the street to stop so they could photograph it. Awesome car.
WonderCar - 2002 BMW Z8
By SM - March 20 - 8:42 pm
I've owned over 50 cars in my life, including some top flight iron. None has ever been the true combination of quality, style, power and fun-to-drive that the Z8 has been. I remember why I bought the car every time I take it out. Absolutely wonderful ride! I get thumbs up, stares and comments whenever I take her out. Great fit and finish, no mechanical problems and my BMW tech's have been wonderful to deal with. The best service anywhere! Gas mileage is OK, essentially 20mpg on the highway and mid-teens around town. I really love this car, but know someday I'll get the bug for something else and then may have to sell/trade the car. They are becoming harder and harder to find.
Hottest car ever built - 2001 BMW Z8
By boatracer81 - October 12 - 12:21 am
This is the hottest car on the road. I traded my porsche turbo for the Z8 and it is far superior. The car will smoke the tires off in 1st gear. It handles like a dream and everywhere I go people love it. The stereo is the best stock stereo I ever heard. It is very clean and clear at all volumes. It has an electric top which is great and a removable hard top. The V8 engine puts out just under 400hp and it feels like more. I recommend this car to any car guy as this is the ultimate sports car for the money. The real deal is behind the wheel - it's like a cross between the old Jaguar XKE V-12 and a Shelby roadster, only this is better. All I can say if you can find one, buy it.
BMW Z8 - 2001 BMW Z8
By Barry Knispel - October 27 - 3:55 pm
The retro design is fantastic- The interior leathers are soft and always have that new car smell. The navigation map is small therefore the direction are only arrows and voice, this is ok but I happen to like a map on my nav. system The dashboard is also retro and great looking. The power is awesome for a 4.9L .The sound of the exhaust is low and second to none.
Red Hot Fun - 2003 BMW Z8
By Thomas R. Woehler - June 11 - 1:22 pm
One of the first off the production line. A silver was firmly in my mind,however when I saw the hot red color on this baby with a black interior, I knew this was my car! No where can you drive without turning heads. From young coeds, males in hot rods to interested observers at the gas pump, it demands attention but does not require frequent stops. Sports car feel, vintage hints to design from the past mixed with the latest technology and mechanics, this car runs! Sit in the drives seat and feel engulfed in a peice of history and the future. Comfortable, with the brute power (almost 400hp) to get the adrenaline surging. Exotic sports car ownership with minimal maintenance. The Z-8!
impossible to give up - 2001 BMW Z8
By uber ich - October 2 - 2:00 am
I think I'll keep this car forever! I am planning on getting a Vanquish and every time I drive it to the dealer for the trade-in, I turn around.
Dream Car - 2003 BMW Z8
By BMW - May 22 - 2:00 am
If you are looking for an ultimate dream car, this is it. From its sensational design to its exhilerating driving performance, this is the ultimate in roadsters.
Driver Heaven - 2001 BMW Z8
By joneshume - January 18 - 2:00 am
This is a most awesome machine, finely tuned, the penultimate BMW achievement. Comfortable interior belies the power under the hood. Don't make the mistake of pushing the "sport" button unless you're prepared for the extraordinary surge in power and control "freedom" that ensues. Don't get this vehicle (if you can find one) unless you don't mind constant attention and admiring looks from bystanders and other drivers.
Love IT! - 2003 BMW Z8
By LaVene F. Schieszler - December 27 - 2:00 am
Best sport car I have ever owned. Fast, comfortable, easy to drive, and that styling! BMW finally made a great one.
awesome - 2003 BMW Z8
By manny1818 - December 10 - 2:00 am
steering ,braking , awesome