Introduced in 1999, the Z8 was BMWs most exclusive car as it was built in very limited numbers and in left hand drive only. Oddly for a car intended for LHD only, the instruments are mounted in the centre of the dashboard, which would presumably facilitate both a left and right hand drive version. The styling is meant to echo the fabulous 1950s 507 V8 roadster, which sold in tiny numbers due to it's enormous cost at the time. The design by German Albrecht Goertz (who also styled the Toyota 2000GT and the original Datsun 240Z) resulted in one of the finest looking BMWs ever seen. The new Z8 however is not as good looking (to my eyes) as the 507 which inspired it, but it is a striking car nonetheless.
The heart of the Z8 is the same 4.9 litre 400bhp V8 which powers the magnificent 1999-2003 M5. The M5 is widely regarded as one of the best cars ever made by BMW, for it's combination of supercar performance and 4 door practicality, but road testers at the time felt the M5 chassis (on which the Z8 is based) lost it's edge when turned into a roadster, and the Z8 was never top of any motoring journalists list. Jeremy Clarkson in particular didn't like them much at all, as he felt the handling was not as good as it should be. The fact that it was LHD only and very expensive too, further limited it's appeal in markets such as the UK and Ireland. So not perhaps the greatest car BMW made, but still a stunning looking car with a stupendous engine and great on the road performance even if it wasn't much good around a test track! Because it is more of a GT/Luxury Tourer than an out and out performance/sports car, I have put it into the Luxury/Executive part of my collection.
AUTOart are one of several model makers to release the Z8 in 1:18th form. Apart perhaps from the Kyosho 1:12th Z8, I think the 1:18th Aa version is the best one available. I have a Kyosho Z8 as well, a rare James Bond dealer edition, which is a good model in it's own right. But the Aa has the measure of the Kyosho model in a few key areas. Firstly the shape of the alloy wheels on the Kyosho does not seem quite right to me, while AUTOart gets them spot on. The Aa Z8 has AUTOart's outstanding brakes, with a realistic metal finish, and the engine compartment is slightly better on the Aa than the Kyosho Z8. Overall then I prefer the AUTOart version.