I recently had the chance to drive a BMW Z8, which is just one of the most beautiful cars ever made. I mean it. If you see one of these at Cars and Coffee or somewhere, stop and take a long, hard look at it. It’s gorgeous. Truly, obscenely gorgeous. And this is just one reason why the Z8 is worth $200,000.
Yes, that’s right: If you haven’t been following Z8 prices, you may be shocked to hear it, but the BMW Z8 is now worth around $200,000 — or more, if it’s in great shape with few miles. This is a surprise, largely because the Z8’s base price when it was new was around $130,000. Like everyone, I assumed it would depreciate, as all used BMW models do. It didn’t. It lost a little value for a few years, and then it went up and stayed up — and now most normal people can’t afford one.
Before I explain why I think the Z8 deserves every bit of its value, allow me to give you a brief overview. The Z8 came out in 2000, and it used the powertrain from the famous “E39” BMW M5 — a 400-horsepower V8 with a 6-speed manual. At the end of the Z8 run, a limited-production “Alpina” model came out — but unlike modern Alpina models, it wasn’t a performance version. Instead, it was sort of a luxury touring version of the Z8, with an automatic transmission and the 375-horsepower 4.8-liter V8. I consider this Z8 to be worse than the regular one, but naturally — because it’s rarer — collectors flock to it. They shouldn’t.
But they should flock to the Z8 in general, because it’s gorgeous. Truly beautiful. The first time I ever saw a Z8 was the first time everyone else ever saw it — in the James Bond movie “The World Is Not Enough,” where, as I recall, the car is cut in half down the middle. I subsequently saw one right after it came out, in the parking lot of my eye doctor, when I was like 12 years old. This was in Denver, and exotic cars were rare in Denver back then, and I flipped out. I’ve been flipping out over the Z8 ever since.
It’s also exciting to drive. By modern standards, the Z8 isn’t very fast — zero to 60 is about 5.4 seconds — and the handling isn’t especially precise, like in other modern exotic performance cars. But the Z8 is a fun cruiser; a nice car to get in, drop the top, and drive around in, not necessarily attacking all the corners, but certainly enjoying them. It’s not the fastest car, it’s not the sharpest car, but it’s an immensely easy car to drive, with a slick manual transmission, great visibility, lots of interior room and few compromises. It’s just wonderful. Not wonderful like an M3, where it’s the perfect tool for hitting apexes and powering out of corners — but wonderful to drive with a smile on your face and a nice song on the radio.
And as you drive, you can also enjoy the simplicity of the interior. It’s quite unusual to find an interior this easy and basic, and it’s a welcome change from the increasingly complicated cabins in a lot of modern cars. In this one, you have climate control vent levers that are unlabeled so as not to clutter the interior. There’s only one power window switch, but you can choose which window to roll down with the same lever that lets you choose which mirror you’re controlling. The steering wheel is just plain cool. And the gauges are in the middle — a throwback to exotic cars from decades ago, and a further simplification of the cabin.
And in the end, that’s sort of the real benefit of the Z8: simplicity. No, it’s not as fast as a new car — but there’s also no ultra-complicated dual clutch to go wrong. No, it doesn’t quite handle as well — but it’s hard to beat the sheer enjoyment of top-down cruising rather than speeding around corners in anger. And no, it doesn’t have a fancy screen in the middle, but that’s not really the point, either. This is a car to enjoy at your leisure … and it’s a car you’ll turn around and stare at when you finally park it. Find a BMW Z8 for sale