The BMW Z8 was a convertible sports car automobile produced by BMW from 1999 to 2003. It was given the E52 BMW model code.
The Z8 originated from a prototype designated Z07, which was designed by Henrik Fisker at BMW’s Designworks in Southern California. It was showcased at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1997. The car was originally designed as a styling exercise to both echo and celebrate the BMW 507 of the 1950s for its 50th birthday.
The overwhelming popularity of the prototype show-car led to the decision to put the car into limited production, to be designated Z8. The car was featured in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough in late 1999. About 5700 Z8s were built, with about half of them exported to the USA.
The $130,000 car had an all aluminum chassis and body and used the same 5.0 litre(4941cc), 400 horsepower (300 kW) 32 valve V8 S62 motor built by the BMW Motorsports subsidiary, as the E39 M5. Performance specs touted a 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) time of 4.7 s, which was later tested at 4.2 s by Motor Trend magazine. Car and Driver magazine also tested the car and found that it outperformed the benchmark Ferrari 360 Modena in the main three performance categories: acceleration, handling and braking. The Z8 held BMW’s production car performance records for several years.
For the 2003 (and last) model year, the BMW Z8 model was augmented by the Alpina V8 Roadster. Instead of the original manual six speed M5 (S62) motor featured in earlier Z8’s, it came as an automatic, using a 5-speed STEPTRONIC transmission with an upgraded 4.8 L Alpina tuned V8 motor from the X5 SUV. Only 550 of these were built. This special edition of the Z8 was sold directly through BMW’s American dealerships, marking a first for Alpina, whose cars had never been sold in the USA before.