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BMW Z8: Buying guide and review (1999-2003)

BMW Z8: Buying guide and review (1999-2003) Classic and Performance Car
BMW Z8 BMW Z8 BMW Z8 BMW Z8 red interior BMW Z8 dashboard and steering wheel BMW Z8 engine BMW Z8
The BMW Z8 is far from the perfect car. It was always expensive, and although the fantastic 400bhp V8 M5 powertrain provide much entertainment, the Z8 was simply not an exceptional drivers' car. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t one of the most desirable cars the company has ever made. Take one look at that all-aluminium Henrik Fisker-styled bodywork, and it’s easy to see why so many people love it – and also why it is so expensive today.
Launched in 1999, it paid homage to the ultra-rare 507 of the 1950s with classic, yet not overtly retro looks. The result was a high-performance convertible that everybody wanted – even James Bond in The World is Not Enough. Add the fact that just 5703 Z8s were produced worldwide, you suddenly have the makings of a highly collectible modern classic. 
The Z8 really didn’t have any rivals, and even BMW’s lesser Z1 and Z3 models were never anywhere near as exotic. This really was the re-embodiment of the 507. The only cars that could match the Z8 for drama would have been the Ferrari 360 and Aston Martin DB7, it’s the Z8 that is now the demand. 

Which Z8 to buy? 

The Z8 was a pure and-simple model, with one engine option and a limited range of colours, so the breadth of choice is not ridiculous like finding a Porsche 911. There weren’t any significant changes of the four-year production run either, but finding the perfect car might be more tricky than you think. 
As with any modern collectible classic of this ilk, finding one with low miles isn’t a difficult task, but finding a car that has been used correctly and maintained perfectly is more challenging. They do come up for sale from time to time though, and are generally in excellent condition. 
If a manual gearchange and a generally sporty demeanour are not what you are looking for, but you still love the looks, then the Alpina version could be the answer. Being far more than just a tuning company, Alpina has been producing its own versions of popular BMW models for decades. With the Z8, Alpina saw an opportunity to offer its customers a less edgy, more relaxed cruiser – making some rather unorthodox changes. 
Ripping out the M5-derived V8 engine was the first step, replacing it with another more torquey motor – the M62 4.6-litre Alpina-tuned V8 used in the B10 saloon. Power dropped by about 27bhp, however with torque increasing to 383 ft lb, the character changed massively, offering a far more laid back driving experience. This was compliented by a BMW steptronic transmission, softer sidewall tyres and more supple leather seats. 
The deciding factor may be availability, because the Alpina V8 Roadster is an extremely rare sight on UK roads. Officially only eight were sold here, with the majority of the 555 production run ending up in the United States. 

Performance and specs


Engine  S62 4.9 Litre 32-valve V8
Power 400 bhp @ 6600rpm
Torque 370 lb ft @ 3800rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual
0-60mph 4.7sec 
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Insurance group   39
Fuel consumption  16.0mpg
Price when new  £1478

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase            2505mm
Length 4400mm
Width 1830mm
Height 1317mm
Weight 1660kg

Common problems

• Unlike most one off sports cars, or highly strung exotics, the Z8 benefits hugely from utilising well proven running gear from the BMW stable. Here are the main things to look out for:
• All aluminium construction means rust is not an issue, but any repairs need to be carried out by an authorised repairer. 
• This same aluminium frame is also the cause of one of the more serious issues to look out for. Some owners complained of damaged front suspension struts after having driven over potholes or other obstructions. This was because the aluminium undercarriage was thought to be susceptible to warping. 
• Take a close look for any gaps around the bonnet shutlines and/or any visible distortions on the shock tower crown as this can indicate warped suspension mounts and lead to a very costly frame replacement. 
• BMW did not ever state that this was a fault of the vehicle, however they did release a ‘Performance Package’ comprising of hardened suspension mounts which was said to enhance handling and performance over rough roads. Most believe that this was BMW’s way of resolving the issue without admitting to there being an actual problem, either way it is an important thing to check on an otherwise reliable and solid car. The part needs to be ordered and fitted by a BMW dealer. 
• There were two cooling system recalls in 2001 and 2002, you should ask for proof that the required modifications were carried out by an approved BMW dealer on the vehicle you are looking at purchasing. 
• Brakes are well up to the task of retarding the car as they are also borrowed from the heavier M5, however there are many alternative brake replacement kits out there, so make sure that if it is modified they are from a reputable manufacturer 
• The S62 engine is a robust unit however regular oil changes are a must. The Mass Air Flow meters, located in the two intake tubes can give trouble at higher mileages which shows itself as engine hesitation/misfire at high revs and poor performance. Cleaning the sensor can sometimes resolve the problem otherwise a replacement unit will need to be purchased. 
• Intermittent starting issues or a clicking sound when turning the key usually is nothing more than the starter motor needing replacement. 
• Headlamps fogging up are an annoyance and can be cured by drilling small holes at the top and bottom of the units instead of having to replace them entirely. 
• A common fault on the Z8 is cam position sensor failure. An engine management warning light is the first sign of a problem and a system diagnostic can identify the issue. Replacement parts are not prohibitive. 
• Gearboxes are from the E39 M5, they should be trouble free if unabused, changing the gearbox oil can ease gearchanges when cold. 

Model history

1997: Z07 concept car shown at Tokyo Motor show 
1999: Z8 goes on sale, shape remains faithful to the Z07 concept car 
2002: Z8 production run of 5703 cars comes to an end 
2003: Alpina V8 Roadster goes on sale in limited numbers – 555 produced in total 
2006: Last five Alpina V8s sold 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

- www.bmwcarclubgb.uk
- www.bmwz8.us
- www.bmwz8club.com

Summary and prices

The BMW Z8 is the sort of car that comes along once every few decades, combining the best an auto manufacturer has to offer without the restrictions imposed by mass production. Limited numbers and a timeless appeal have seen prices rise in recent years, finding one however can be tricky. Prices currently range from around £150,000 to £175,000 and values are mainly influenced by condition and mileage. 
Colour and age are not as crucial and modified examples are rare. If you are in the market for a useable exotic, you may find that you can have your cake and eat it with the Z8, as the ownership prospect is a largely trouble free one. You may even walk away after five years having turned a profit, now that is an investment worth making. 
BMW Z8 BMW Z8 BMW Z8 BMW Z8 red interior BMW Z8 dashboard and steering wheel BMW Z8 engine BMW Z8
Last updated: 16th Jun 2017
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  • BMW Z8 2000

    £195,000 £195,000

    2000 BMW Z8. LHD. Silver. Black Leather Interior. 36,000 Miles From New With Full BMW Service History. Only One Careful Owner From New. Hardtop Included. Originally Supplied In Andorra, Now Available For Viewing In Mallorca.

    • Mileage: 36000 mi
    For sale
    £195,000 £195,000
    David Stockton Specialist Cars
    01253 737709 View contact number
  • 2001 BMW Z8

    $169,500(£0) $169,500(£0)

    2001 BMW Z8 Exported from Peru to the U.S in 2001 this iconic 2001 BMW Z8 with 2 tops and a very low 30,226 on the odometer comes in titanium silver metallic with black interior. A beautiful color combination. It comes with a clean CarFax and is equipped with a M powered 4.9L V8 engine with a 6 speed manual transmission, air conditioning, power windows, power seats, 5 spoke alloy wheels and includes the jack, tool kit, owner's manual and original window sticker. The Z8s are climbing in value. A tribute to the legendary 507. An extremely clean and presentable example which is mechanically sound. For $169,500 If you have any additional questions Please call 310-975-0272 or email with any questions! We also welcome all international buyers. We can help with shipping quotes and arrangements.

    • Year: 2001
    For sale
    $169,500(£0) $169,500(£0)
  • 2001 BMW Z8

    $224,500(£0) $224,500(£0)

    2001 BMW Z8 Roadster VIN: WBAEJ13461AH60405 Titanium Silver Metallic with Black Nappa Leather Long valued for their excellence in performance and design, BMW has become the premier sport luxury brand among enthusiasts who delight in driving their cars. In 1997, the Z8 emerged as the Z07 styling study, initially penned by Henrik Fisker (later to become head of design at Aston Martin). Although the Z07 concept was inspired by the legendary 507, it was never intended for production, rather as a statement of brand heritage. Yet customer reaction was both brisk and promising, causing BMW to reconsider their position and announcing the Z8 as a soon to be released limited production vehicle. Only one configuration, the roadster, would be constructed from 2000 to 2003. The production Z8 differed only slightly from the concept Z07, retaining the themes and details with a great deal of care. The Z8 featured a long hood and short deck, placing occupants nearly at the rear axle. The small doors, curvaceous fenders and low-slung stance, evoked a retro feel to the car, but still delivered a fresh look. All Z8s came with removable hard tops, unique keys, an embossed tool roll (a vintage touch), a

    • Year: 2001
    • Mileage: 5645 mi
    For sale
    $224,500(£0) $224,500(£0)
  • BMW Z8 Roadster

    £245,000 £245,000

    The BMW Z07 concept car, first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1997, blossomed from a dream into a production reality. Production of the BMW Z8 was announced at the Detroit Motor Show in January 1999. Designed for connoisseurs, the BMW Z8 was both very exclusive and a technological tour de force. Its blend of aesthetic design and dynamic performance is born of BMW’s desire to show how the 1956 BMW 507 might have developed had it been an integral part of the BMW range in the intervening period. The evocative and exotic style of the Z8 echoes the concept design very closely. The broad kidney grille and small xenon headlights faired in by glass covers flow into a long bonnet with muscular wheel arches and wide doors rounded off by a shapely yet purposeful tail with four large tailpipes. The Z8 even bears the typical 507 air scoops on its front wings whilst a luxurious leather interior is set off by a central instrument binnacle typical of that elegant era of convertible cars. Under the skin the Z8 is pure technology. The Z8 is built on an aluminum alloy spaceframe and carries an all-aluminium body. The power unit for the vehicle is no less than the 5.0l V8 engine from the M5.

    For sale
    £245,000 £245,000