The turn of the 2000s saw many manufacturers re-envisioning some of the models of their past, and BMW was no exception. In the mid-1990s, Chief designer Christopher Bangle led his team to design a modern interpretation of the iconic BMW 507 of the 1950s styled by Count Albrecht Goetz. Henrik Fisker penned the exterior design that was instantly recognizable as an homage to the 507, and featured a long nose with wide-oval shaped kidney grilles with driving lights set at the outer ends, a short rear deck, and two bucket seats that were set in the rear wall, and configured as either a coupe with a double-bubble roof or as a roadster with a long helmet fairing as was common in racing cars of the 1950s. Inside, the vintage theme continued with a banjo-spoked three-spoke steering wheel, a painted plastic dash panel reminiscent of the painted dashboard of the 50s, and a three gauge instrument cluster in the center of the dashboard.
The Z07 concept debuted at the 1997 Tokyo Auto Show and instantly created a buzz of excitement within the automotive community. Luckily, the Z07 concept was designed with production in mind, so there were minimal changes to its original design and was introduced to the world as the Z8. It was available only as a roadster without the helmet fairing, but with a built-in convertible top and additional hardtop. The Z8 made its debut to the public in the 1999 James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough” and solidified its place as BMW’s flagship cruiser powered by the E39 M5’s 395-horsepower V8 and six-speed transmission. The Z8 boasted some impressive performance figures- it was able to sprint to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds and posted a faster time in the quarter-mile than a Ferrari 360 Modena Spider with a time of 13 seconds. However, it did not handle quite as well as some of its sports-car contemporaries, and it was often noted that its suspension was overly stiff and its ride was excessively harsh. Production of the Z8 ceased in November of 2002, and Alpina began to develop their own version- the Alpina Roadster V8
Alpina has been producing specialty models for BMW for over 30 years and set out to refine the Z8 to convert it to be more of a grand tourer than sports car. First and foremost- Alpina took the 4.4 liter M62 V8 from the 540i and enlarged it to 4.8 liters with bespoke pistons, connecting rods and polished components produced by BMW to Alpina’s specification. The Alpina-tuned V-8 was codenamed F5/1 and produced 375 horsepower and 383 ft-lb of torque, 15 horsepower less than the M5’s engine but with 20 ft-lbs more torque at 3,800 rpms. It was also 90-pounds lighter with tighter tolerances than the M5’s 4.9 liter S62 engine. They paired the now-4.8 liter engine to a five-speed BMW Steptronic automatic transmission with manual shift buttons mounted on an Alpina-specific steering wheel.
The aluminum body shell and chassis were produced in BMW’s Dingolfing factory while Alpina assembled the powertrain in Buchloe, and then the powertrain and chassis were mated at a dedicated shop at the Munich factory. Alpina implemented a softer suspension and added larger 20-inch multi-spoke wheels with conventional Michelin tires in place of the stiffer run-flat tires to completely transform the Z8’s ride. The dashboard received custom Alpina dials and added a gear shift indicator ahead of the steering wheel. The upholstery was finished in fine-grain Nappa leather and offered in a wider selection of colors. The Alpina motif appears throughout the interior and exterior, including on the seat backs, steering wheel center, door sills, identification badge, instrument faces, engine cover, along with a trunk area exterior emblem. In total, Alpina produced just 555 examples, 450 of which came to the US and were distributed through BMW’s dealership network.
BMW immediately sold out of the total production run of 5,703 Z8s and Alpina Roadster V8s, making it an instant collectible. Despite a very brief period after production, the Z8 and its Alpina variant have held their values and continued to trend upwards in value to this day. This two-owner example is number 092/555 and currently shows 43,832 miles on the odometer. Its second owner has driven the car fairly regularly but has taken exceptional care of the car, and in doing so the car presents in very good condition both inside and out. Included with the car are the original owner’s manuals, tool roll, battery charger, puncture repair kit, wind deflectors, front bra, and hard top with storage rack and cover.
In Ray Hutton’s review in the February 2003 issue of Car and Driver, “with its easy-going power delivery and automatic transmission, this is what this car should have been all along.”
Number 092 of 555 Alpina V8 Roadsters produced for the world.
Includes tool kit, manuals, hard top with stand, and battery charger.
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