I've been getting brand-new cars to test drive for almost a decade now — and not once during all those years did I have the urge to do what I almost did when the BMW Z8 roadster showed up in my driveway.
The weather was turning bleak; an ice storm was on the way
. . . and for a moment, I actually thought seriously about rolling one of
the antique cars I keep snug n' safe in my garage outside, so that the cobalt
blue BMW press car would not have to suffer.
I didn't do it, of course. But the fact that I entertained the idea at all says something about the allure of the Z8 — a 400-horsepower V-8 uber-roadster that makes a new 911 Turbo look almost common.
With production of the Z8 limited to just 5000 copies — only 1600 of which are designated for the North American market — BMW has secured the exclusivity of its new sports car. (If you haven't already put down serious coin and got something in writing, it's probably already too late.)
But the mojo radiating from the Z8 is not defined by money or performance alone. Like its spiritual ancestor, the 1955 BMW 507 roadster, the Z8 is among the very few ultra-exotics that isn't overdone. It's obviously expensive. But so is a Lamborghini Diablo — a car that is the Pontiac Trans Am of the chest-wig-wearing, six-figure set.
The Z8, like the old 507s, has classic roadster lines: long hood, short deck; subtle arches over each wheel as the bodywork tapers to the rear, a timeless look shared by early '60s Ferraris and later "borrowed" with open enthusiasm by legendary GM stylist Bill Mitchell, who adapted the themes wonderfully to such American classics as the 1963-1967 Sting Ray Corvette and 1967 Camaro. (Mitchell himself once frankly admitted his inspiration and said simply: "If you are going to rob someone, you might as well rob a bank, not a liquor store.")