In a parallel universe, the BMW Z8 might have ended up being a coupe. Or at least, there could have been a coupe version. After all, the Z07 concept which preceded it was a tin top, but in the end, BMW created a soft-top cabriolet and supplied a removable hardtop for colder months. Had the coupe happened, it might have looked something like this. However, what you see here is no Z8.
This is the Oletha from Smit Vehicle Engineering (SVE), which underneath is, we think, an E86 Z4 Coupe. Although there’s no mention of the Z8, the Oletha’s carbon fibre composite body quite clearly takes inspiration from the short-lived Chris Bangle-designed roadster, itself an homage to the old 507.
Using an E86 as a starting point opens up the possibility of using the E46 M3‘s S54 inline-six, and there are reportedly plans to offer this in the future. Initially, though, SVE has decided to go a more complicated route by stuffing in an S65 V8. And not just any S65 - the Oletha is powered by the 4.4-litre originally made for the E92 M3 GTS. Now running a bespoke carbon fibre intake manifold and a new exhaust system with stainless steel and Inconel components, the 8,500rpm-capable V8 delivers over 450bhp.
The kerb weight will be around 1400kg, so the Oletha will be plenty fast. Ensuring all that power reaches the tarmac successfully, a six-speed manual gearbox feeds the rear wheels via a mechanical limited-slip differential.
Further dynamic upgrades include Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres cladding forged monoblock wheels, two-way adjustable stainless steel KW dampers, forged aluminium control arms and brakes from AP Racing. Most impressively, considering this is from a small operator, the Oletha has an active rear spoiler.
SVE hasn’t released any interior images just yet, although we’re promised a “driver-focused cockpit dressed in the highest quality materials,” which should hopefully avoid the E86 donor car’s cabin feeling too dated. It’ll come with a high-end sound system, and either eight-way adjustable electric seats or carbon fibre buckets depending on the buyer’s preferences.
Although the starting point for this car is an affordable old Z4 coupe, all of the carbon fibre, forged aluminium and Inconel doesn’t come cheap. The starting price for the car is $450,000, although presumably, the later inline-six version will be a bit less. SVE will make no more than 100.