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BMW Z8 car of the week

...caused such a stir at the 1997 Tokyo motor show that the big Bavarian marque had no choice but to make a production version.

The concept was called Z07, and the car it spawned – in limited numbers – was the BMW Z8, which was produced between 2000 and 2003 and given the E52 model code. 5703 Z8s were made and about half of them made their way to the United States.

Penned by Henrik Fisker at BMW’s Designworks, very few changes were needed for the Z07 to go into production as the Z8.

The windscreen was extended upwards and bigger front air dams were fitted. To keep it as faithful to the concept as possible, the designers incorporated clever features such as multi-function instruments, integrated side indicators that were invisible until needed, and modern equipment that was hidden behind interior retractable panels to preserve the simple, vintage-inspired look.

The all-alloy chassis car cost $128,000 and was pulled by a 4.9 litre V8 engine that produced 294kW and 500Nm.The engine was shared by the M5 of the time.

The Z8’s 0-100km/h time was officially 4.7 seconds but quicker times (to 4.2 seconds) have been recorded by various testers. The top speed, as per BMW regulations, was locked off at 249km/h, although when unbridled the feisty little Bimmer could reach 300 clicks.

To make the Z8 more attractive to collectors, all elements of the car were constructed or finished by hand, and a number of custom options were available including non-standard paint and interior treatments.

In 2003, a softer, less sporty version of the Z8 was introduced. It was called the Alpina V8 Roadster and it came with a smaller 4.8 litre V8 engine. Only a five-speed automatic transmission was available in the Alpina, and the car featured softer suspension and softer leather trim than its rawer, race-ready brother. Slightly bigger wheels were fitted and special Alpina gauges and steering wheel were also added.

The Alpina outputs were 280kW and 519Nm but interestingly the top speed was 10km north of the original Z8, at 259km/h. Only 555 Alpinas were built.

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