In 1997, BMW released the Z07 styling study, which became the production Z8 with impressively minimal changes. Initially penned by Henrik Fisker (later to become head of design at Aston Martin and then develop his own global automobile company), the Z07 concept was inspired by the legendary 507 and was never intended for production. But the car generated overwhelmingly enthusiastic response and BMW elected to make a production version of the car. Only one configuration, the roadster, was available, and would be constructed from 2000 to 2003. The production Z8 differed only slightly from the concept Z07, retaining most of the details of the Z07. The Z8 featured a long hood and short deck, placing occupants nearly at the rear axle, in keeping with the traditions of great sports car design. The small doors, curvaceous fenders, and low-slung stance evoked a retro feel while simultaneously creating a fresh and unique look. All Z8s came with removable hard tops, unique keys, an embossed tool roll and a host of other Z8-specific extras, and a color-matched dashboard with centrally placed instruments.
Mechanically, the Z8 was both sophisticated and technologically exciting. The aluminum chassis is lightweight and is paired with forged independent suspension components. The E39 M5's S62 4.9 liter quad-cam V8 engine, mounted well behind the front axle for optimal weight distribution, delivers a remarkably usable 400hp. Not simply a pretty face, the all new Z8 arrived as a legitimately high performance machine, yielding .92g of lateral acceleration, and posting a 4.2 second 0-60 time. Car and Driver's tests proved acceleration, grip, and braking figures competitive with the contemporary Ferrari 360. Just 2,382 examples were sold in the United States. Today, Z8s have continued to appreciate in value due in part to their exceptional design, high performance, and limited production.