Some say a car can’t be a good investment, and I say to them: BMW Z8

I remember the first time I saw a Z8 in person. It was right around the time I was really starting to get obsessed with cars, and I had become familiar with the Z8 through the latest James Bond Playstation game. My mom and I had just parked our car to run some errands when I saw a sleek, low, silver car approaching. At first glance, I thought it was a Porsche, but then I realized it was 007’s car. In the decade or so since then, many things have changed in the world, but the Z8’s price has remained the same. Many people are surprised this car has held its value so well, especially since it received a rather mixed reception from many journalists. I have been thinking on this myself, and I have a few ideas as to why it has remained so expensive.

The obvious appeal of the Z8 still rings just as true today as it did the day it came out. It is breathtakingly gorgeous (hat tip to Mr. Fisker), and it offers a great driving experience. When the Z8 came out, its 400hp V8 put it right in line with the performance of the Ferrari 360 and the Porsche 996 Turbo, making it a supercar in its day. Zero to sixty times were recorded as low as 4.2 seconds and the handling was right on par with its aforementioned rivals. While that sort of performance is more common now, it is still quite impressive here in 2012. Z8s were also fairly rare, with around 5,700 being built worldwide. However, I don’t think its rarity alone is enough to justify the current prices. The Z8 clearly has a lasting appeal, but but I think there may be something more at play.

First off, the Z8 was not a typical BMW. It was a unique model, like the M1, that had no immediate successor. This lack of a “new one” has kept the Z8’s image contemporary.

Secondly, it was one of the first neo-retro cars to appear around the millennium, a modern form of BMW’s legendary 507. This gave the Z8 a nostalgic appeal that was fairly revolutionary at the time. Keep in mind, this was pre-2005 Mustang, pre-Ford GT, pre-Challenger. The trend of retro style had not yet been established, and I would argue that the Z8 helped to found it.

Thirdly, the Z8 was part of what is, at least in my opinion, still the greatest single generation of BMWs, the era from 2000-2002. It was full of handsome, engaging cars. A pinnacle reached right before technology began to really dilute the full experience of “the ultimate driving machine.”

Lastly, and maybe somewhat linked to the third point, the Z8 was a proper roadster. Think about what it offered: an M5 V8, manual transmission (when it was still the norm), a sexy body, and the full on “wind in your hair” experience. Nobody makes a car like this today, with the same mix of performance, engagement, style, and refinement. The likes of the MX5, Z4, and Corvette have some of it, but not the whole package, and with nowhere near the same impact as the Z8 when it was new.

Imagine if they made the same car adjusted for today’s performance. We would be talking about a 560hp twin turbo V8 with a manual transmission, in a 3500lb two-seat convertible. It would be insanely awesome!

I think the Z8 is a car that will continue to hold its appeal. As the regulations clamp down, and the technology “improves” this car will only become more and more desirable. Current prices are right around its original MSRP of $128,000, and I bet they will do nothing but rise. This is good news for anyone who owns one already (hold on to it), but bad news for anyone, like me, who just wants to drive one at some point, let alone own one.

(Thanks to bmwz8.us for the pics, they have hundreds of awesome pics of these cars. check it out)

-Nick Walker

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