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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: Alpina souped up BMW’s Z8 sports car

Pick of the Day: Alpina souped up BMW’s Z8 sports car

Private seller offering one of the rare roadsters for sale

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In the mid-1950s, and encouraged by New York City import car dealer Max Hoffman, BMW produced a stunning sports car, the 507. The car was designed by Count Albrecht Goertz and as powered by a V8 engine. Elvis Presley was among those buying the exciting roadster.

Oh, the price was expensive, nearly $9,000. But it proved a good investment, since the cars, kept or restored to concours condition, can bring more than $2 million at auction today.

BMW Z8, Pick of the Day: Alpina souped up BMW’s Z8 sports car, ClassicCars.com Journal

Fast forward a few decades and the 507 inspires BMW to unveil a concept car, the Z07, at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. A couple of years later, after production design work by Henrik Fisker, a production version of the concept was produced, the BMW Z8.

The sports car was available in standard BMW guise but also as a more aggressively tuned Alpina model. One of those cars, a 2003 BMW Alpina Z8, is the Pick of the Day, where it is being advertised for sale on ClassicCars.com for $235,000 by its private owner in Brookfield, Connecticut.

“This rare Z8 variant was available in small numbers and only for one year,” the seller notes, adding that this is “a rather exclusive car even in the rarified world of Z8’s.

BMW Z8, Pick of the Day: Alpina souped up BMW’s Z8 sports car, ClassicCars.com Journal

“Immediately recognizable to enthusiasts, the driving experience is more thrilling with extra torque provided by the Alpina tuned 4.8-liter V8. An engine that is noticeably throatier than the standard Z8.”

The M62 engine comes from the BMW M5 sedan and is a double overhead-cam, 32-valve unit that produces 394 horsepower. Alpina also raised peak torque to 383 pound-feet. The engine is tied to a 5-speed Steptronic transmission. 

The cars were built on an aluminum space frame, had independent suspension, disc brakes, and 50/50 weight distribution. 

The factory claimed 0-to-60 mph in less than five seconds and a top speed of 170 mph, though that figure was electronically limited at 155. 

Steering wheel and gauges are Alpina units, as are the 20-inch wheels.

BMW Z8, Pick of the Day: Alpina souped up BMW’s Z8 sports car, ClassicCars.com Journal

“The Z8 was built for driving, and the car was confident when pushed on twisty roads and quick through the straights,” the seller notes.

The car being offered, the seller says, is the 493rd of the 555 produced. 

“It has been extensively serviced by the local BMW dealership. The act of taking the Z8 Alpina to a BMW dealership is akin to arriving with a celebrity. Heads turn and the car draws other BMW owners to it as few have seen one in the flesh.”

The car has not been restored, has its original paint, and a factory hardtop — and a stunningly bright red interior. The seller adds that the car has been driven only a few more than 20,000 miles since new.

BMW Z8, Pick of the Day: Alpina souped up BMW’s Z8 sports car, ClassicCars.com Journal

Hagerty notes that fewer than 200 Alpina Z8s were produced, all with automatic transmissions rather than the standard manual gearbox used in the slightly more than 5,700 non-Alpina versions.

“Today, the cars are recognized as one of BMW’s high points of the last several decades, and have achieved collectible status only 15 years after they bowed,” Hagerty notes in its valuation guide.”

Hagerty suggests that concours-quality cars are worth $276,000. 

To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Hagerty
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Incorrect information
    The car sold new for 137,500 US
    There were 555 built however not all made it to the US
    I had mine(#378)for six years, it now resides in Switzerland. A wonderful example of German Technology!

  2. I have owned a Z8 since it was new and love the car. However, I have always thought the premiums being paid for the Alpina version were a bit of an “emperor has no clothes” story.

    The original Z8 had a 6-speed manual. The Alpina had a torque converter automatic. Manual cars from that era are generally more valuable in most of the peer group (Porsches and Ferraris) than their automatic equivalents.
    The original Z8 had the BMW 4.9 (S62) V8 rated at 395 hp (400ps) that was used in the M5. The Alpina had used a slightly detuned (M62) engine rated at 375 hp (381psi).
    Motor Trend magazine tested an original Z8’s 0-60 time at 4.2 seconds.
    The Alpina version’s time was closer to 5 seconds.
    The Alpina had 383 vs 369 lb-ft torque, but that was said to be to allow more “relaxed cruising.”
    The Alpina also had softer suspension settings than the original for the same reason.
    So, overall, the Alpina would see to be the lesser performance car.

    The Alpina had two clear advantages over the original car.
    First, it used 20″ wheels and soft sidewall tires versus the 18″ hard sidewall run-flat tires on the original Z8, so the Alpina had a smoother ride, but no better roadholding. Moreover, the Alpina wheels can be retrofitted to the original Z8 and both cars benefit from the optional strut brace if they are going to be driven hard.

    So, what it seems to come down to is that there were just fewer Alpinas made than original Z8’s, so the Alpina premium seems to be just scarcity value. Personally, I prefer having the better performance car, but that is one person’s opinion and I am sure there will be many dissenters from that view.

  3. There are 12 BMW 507 selling for more than US$2million, one of them at US$5 million, one at more than US$3 million and the rest at more than 2 million, but the mother of them all is Elvis 507, wbose cost is estimated at US$9m and is the property of BMW Group Classic which restored it during a two year period. .

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