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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
BMW’s Z8 was nothing if not an oddball. Launched in 1999, it was intended to simultaneously evoke the ultra-rare 507 of the 1950s and mark the arrival of the new millennium. Designer Henrik Fisker did a brilliant job of making the Z8 look retro but not old-fashioned, and despite its ‘touring’ appearance, the car packed the E39 M5’s 400bhp V8, while its chassis and bodywork were made from lightweight aluminium.
 
The result was a high-performance convertible that, even though it was slightly disappointing on the dynamics front, was undoubtedly desirable. Add the fact that just 5703 Z8s were produced worldwide (and that one featured in the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough) and you suddenly have the makings of a modern classic.
 
Rivals in this retro-modern category were thin on the ground, and there were precious few cars to which the Z8 could be compared, especially when looking at its traditional German counterparts. BMW itself had a model range comprising only of the 3, 5 and 7 series with the recently introduced X5 having just dipped an adventurous toe into untapped segments. The 8 series was in its last year and rivals had a similarly modest set of offerings to choose from.
 
You had to move to look at niche manufacturers and up your budget considerably to find any meaningful challengers, the Ferrari 360 and Aston Martin DB7 come to mind and while both have their merits, it is the Z8 that is now worth considerably more than either of those cars in today’s market. 
 

Which one to buy? 

 
Since it was a one-off model, the decision process is made rather simple, aided by the fact that there were no significant changes over the four year production run. As with any future classic, the most important things to look for are history and low mileage. This is not as difficult a task as you might imagine as a lot of Z8s were snapped up by collectors years ago, and have since spent their time in collections waiting for values to rise. They do come up for sale from time to time though and are generally in excellent condition. 
 
If a manual gearchange and a firm sporty demeanour are not what you are looking for in your roadster then Alpina may have the answer for you. 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 changes that would seem like complete anathema to the purist, but actually resulted in a car that was very accomplished in its own right. 
 
Ripping out the M5-derived V8 engine was the first step, replacing it with another more torque biased 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 of the car became far more laid back. This was also compliented by a BMW steptronic transmission, softer sidewall tyres and more supple leather for the seats. Both cars have their supporters and in the end it comes down to personal taste as to which one you prefer. 
 
Although in this case another 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

 
BMW Z8
Engine S62 4.9 Litre 32-valve V8 
Power 400 bhp @ 6600rpm
Torque 370 lb.ft torque @ 3800rpm
Top Speed 155mph (limited)
0-62mph 4.7 seconds
Fuel consumption 16.0mpg
Gearbox Six-speed manual
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2505mm
Length 4400mm
Width 1830mm
Height 1317mm
Kerb 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 £140,000 to £200,000 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. 
 
Words: John Tallodi
BMW Z8 BMW Z8 BMW Z8 BMW Z8 red interior BMW Z8 dashboard and steering wheel BMW Z8 engine BMW Z8
Last updated: 30th Nov 2016
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BMW Z8 cars for sale

8 Search results
BMW Z8
199995 245000 GBP
  • BMW Z8 Alpina Roadster V8 2002 Topasblau Metallic

    POA POA

    The BMW Z8 was the production variant of the 1997 Z07 concept car. The concept was originally designed as a styling exercise intended to evoke and celebrate the 1956 BMW 507 and to celebrate the millennium change. The Z07 caused such an overwhelming sensation at the 1997 Tokyo Auto Show that it spurred BMW decision to produce a limited production model called the Z8. As a result BMW hand-finished 5703 Z8’s in Munich, of which 3160 were built for Europe and 2543 for the US. The car had an all-aluminum chassis and body and used a 4.9 L 32-valve V8, that developed 400 HP and 500 Nm torque. This engine, known internally as the S62, was built by the BMW Motorsport subsidiary and was shared with the E39 M5. The engine was located behind the front axle in order to provide the car with an optimal 50/50 weight distribution. It could achieve 0-100 km/h in an impressive 4,7 seconds. and furthermore Car and Driver magazine also found that the car outperformed the contemporary benchmark of the time, the Ferrari 360 Modena, in three important performance categories: acceleration, handling, and braking. As with most BMW cars, the top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h. The Z8 used neon

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  • 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.

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  • BMW Z8 Roadster

    £199,995 £199,995

    Having covered just 25,450 Miles from new, this Z8 presents in superb condition supporting how well this car has been cared for from new. Accompanied by its full book pack, original spare key and exceptionally rare factory hard top roof, this Z8 is UK registered and is located in our showrooms just outside London and available to view immediately.

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  • 2002 BMW Z8

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    2002 BMW Z8 Roadster finished in silver with black/red hide interior. Supplied new in Germany. 13,500 kms (8,500 miles) One of the lowest mileage examples left

    • Year: 2002
    • Mileage: 8500 mi
    For sale
  • 2002 BMW Z8 roadster

    $225,000(£175,432.50) $225,000(£175,432.50)

    2002 BMW Z8 roadster, Titanium Silver with red, S/N WBAEJ13422AH61732, only 7,485 miles from new, 5.0 litre 400hp normally aspirated V8 engine, 6 speed manual transmission, heated seats, factory removable hard top, extensive list of sundry items including: hard top stand, original owner’s manuals and spare keys, original window sticker, “coffee table” production book, Z8 car cover, Z8 hard top cover, wind deflector, soft top window cloth, tool roll, factory battery tender, factory first aid kit, delivered new May 2002 by Foreign Motors West, Natick, Massachusetts, this collector quality Z8 roadster has been in the Copley family from new.

    • Year: 2002
    • Mileage: 7485 mi
    For sale
  • 2001 BMW Z8 Roadster

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    2001 BMW Z8 VIN: WBAEJ13471AH60462 Imported to Newark, NJ on January 2nd 2001, this Z8 was sold to its first owner in Illinois a couple of months later. In December of 2004 the Z8 would be sold to American racing legend Bobby Rahal with only 5,198 miles. The car would be part of his collection for the next 12 years covering only another 6000 miles in that time. Since arriving at Canepa the Z8 has been fully serviced, fitted with a new set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and concours detailed.

    • Year: 2001
    For sale
  • BMW Z8

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    Features : Delivered new by BMW MIRABEAU Paris 16, V8 400hp, maintenance book to the day Comment : Hard Top, cover, power hood, Monochrome GPS, leather interior, heated seat, CD audio system, air conditioning

    • Year: 2009
    • Mileage: 56868 mi
    For sale
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