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2000 BMW Z8
The introduction of the new BMW Z8 is again proof that retro style is in. The Jaguar S Type made a lot of companies think about their past and now we are seeing more models with familiar nameplates and design such as the Bug, which was also the first car to be redesigned 50 years after it was first introduced. Next year Ford will re-release the Thunderbird complete with porthole rear quarter windows and hardtop. Chrysler had plans to reintroduce the Charger but I have heard that Daimler has decided to scrap the Charger. The prototype I saw at an auto show was beautiful and I immediately began to dream what was under the hood. It was very depressing to hear the prototype would be a footnote in this classic's history. But with all the successful retro rods available today, there is hope that Daimler Chrysler may want to re think it's position and follow the demands of baby boomers longing for the past of fast and fun cars of yesteryear.
The Z8 is a reincarnation of the 1957 roadster called the 507. I must admit, before the Z8, I had never heard of the 507 and now that I have seen pictures, I wonder what took BMW so long to bring this classic back from the dead. The 507 was similar to the E type Jaguars of that time and I found it more appealing than the mighty M1 minus the drive train.
The Z8 features numerous meticulously crafted features such as the all aluminum frame and body. The body is assembled similar to today's jet aircraft in that it requires several rivets and the frame is assembled by hand with several series of tig welds. The end result is super light and strong integral frame and body. You don't see many rivets in today's automobile construction largely because there is only one other all aluminum automobile on the market, the Audi A8. BMW put everything into this car; it appears they would stop at nothing by creating this wonderfully crafted roadster that will be compared to several vehicles that are more expensive. This car is also a “daily driver”; if you can contain your pedal pressure, it will perform in a civilized manor without any complaints. In short ,the Z8 has everything except the stunning blonde that this babe mobile demands. The end result is a body that is smooth, slippery and most of all sexy.
The Z8's most attractive feature, in my opinion is the all aluminum 5.0 liter V8. This is same engine that launches the M5 minus a few extra pounds, almost 500 pounds depending on the few options available in either car. This smooth and quiet screamer features dual overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder. This engine has 11 to 1 compression ratio that helps the little 302 put out a hefty 400 bhp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The valve train utilizes Double VANOS, which is BMW's version of variable valve timing that is partially responsible for the split personality of a little toy at idle and a more than capable racer on acceleration.
The interior is very attractive; the little space that is available looks like it was molded around the two occupants with not much more room for anything else. The interior detail comes to life with a touch of brushed aluminum to enhance the instruments, controls and trim lines. The brushed aluminum really stands out against the darker interior color. The first interior feature you notice is the instrument cluster, it's off center of the steering wheel and located in the center of the dash, it has a molded overhang to shade the sun and is angled toward the driver. The end result is a clear line of sight straight down the long curved hood. It looks like BMW borrowed this idea from the Panoz Esperante, but in this new world of nostalgia, maybe the 507 of the fifties had it first, hard to tell from the photos I saw.
The only bad thing about this car is that there are only 1400 vehicles to be made of which 400 are destined for the states. These have more than likely been spoken for, but now that you know you will be able to get a jump on next years model.
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