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BMW Z8

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BMW Z8.jpg
BMW Z8
BMW
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Production 2000-2003 with 5,703 built
Class Sports Car
Body Style 2-door, 2-seat Front Engined Roadster
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Engine 4.9 litre (4941 cc) V8, 32 valves
Power 400 hp @ N/A rpm
363 lb-ft of torque @ N/A rpm
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Designer Henrik Fisker

The BMW Z8 was a car produced by German automaker BMW from 2000 to 2003. It was given the E52 BMW model code.

The Z8 was the production variant of the 1997 Z07 concept car, which was designed by Henrik Fisker at BMW's Designworks in Southern California. The Z07 originally was designed as a styling exercise intended to evoke and celebrate the 1956-'59 BMW 507. The Z07 caused a sensation at the '97 Tokyo Auto Show. The overwhelming popularity of the concept spurred BMW's decision to produce a limited production model called the Z8. 5,703 Z8s were built, approximately half of which were exported to the USA.

From Concept to Production

The original Z07 was designed with production in mind. As a result, very little of the concept's impact was lost to practical and regulatory considerations. Nevertheless, the windshield of the Z8 was extended upward, and a larger front airdam was fitted. Both changes were implemented in the interests of providing aerodynamic stability and a reasonably placid cockpit environment. The four spoke steering wheel of the concept was replaced by a three spoke design in order to improve ergonomics. The hardtop was changed from a double-bubble form with a tapering faring to a single dome with a truncated convex backside. The concept's exotic driver's side helmet fairing was eliminated in order to allow easy operation of the power soft top. Despite these changes, the Z8 remained extremely faithful to the concept car. The side-mounted turn indicators were integrated into the side vents in a fashion that rendered them invisible until activated. The vintage simplicity of the interior was preserved by hiding the modern equipment under retracting panels. Complex compound curves were preserved through the use of an expensive MIG-welded aluminum space frame. The Z8 even retained the concept's five spoke wheel design, albeit without the race-style center lug nut.

Features

The $128,000 car had an all aluminum chassis and body and used a 4.9 L (4941 cc) 32 valve V8, which propelled the vehicle with 400 hp (294 kW) and 500 Nm (363 lb-ft.). This engine was built by the BMW Motorsport subsidiary and was shared with the E39 M5. The engine is located behind the front axle in order to provide the car with 50/50 weight distribution. The factory claimed a 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62.5 mph) time of 4.7 seconds. Motor Trend magazine achieved 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Road and Track measured the car's lateral grip at an outstanding .92. 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. Like most BMW products, the top speed is electronically limited to 155mph, but magazines have achieved over 160 by "bouncing" the car against its fuel cutoff.

The Z8 was the first production car to feature neon exterior lighting. The tail lights and turn indicators are powered by neon tubes that offer quicker activation than standard lightbulbs and are expected to last for the life of the vehicle. Every Z8 was shipped with a color matching metal hardtop with rear defroster. Unlike many accessory hardtops, which are provided for practical, not stylistic considerations, the Z8 hardtop was designed from the outset to complement the lines of the roadster. With the hardtop in place, the Z8 becomes a handsome coupe. In order to keep the interior uncluttered, a number of convenience functions were integrated into multifunction controls. For example, the power windows and mirrors are controlled by a single instrument. The design goal of an unadulterated performance driving experience is served by a center mounted instrument cluster that cants slightly toward the driver. The displacement of these gauges to the middle of the dash is intended to offer an unimpeded view of the hood and the road ahead.

In order to promote the Z8 to collectors and reinforce media speculation about the Z8's "instant classic" potential, BMW made the promise- unprecedented in the auto industry- that a 50 year stockpile of spare parts would be maintained in order to support the Z8 fleet. Due to the limited volume of Z8 production, all elements of the car were constructed or finished by hand, thereby compounding the importance of ongoing manufacturer support for the type. The price point and unique production process allowed BMW to offer custom options to interested buyers. A number of Z8s with nonstandard paint and interior treatments were produced over the course of the four year production run.

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