In a parallel universe, the BMW Z8 might have ended up as 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 begins its life as an E86 Z4 Coupe donor car. SVE hasn’t exactly claimed that it’s built a reimagination of the Z8, but the Oletha’s carbon fibre composite body clearly takes inspiration from the short-lived Chris Bangle-designed roadster, itself an homage to the old 507.
Initially, SVE decided to offer its streamlined Z8-inspired sports car with a modified version of the 4.4-litre V8 from the E92 M3 GTS. However, those with deep enough pockets now have a second option. SVE will now equip the Oletha with the glorious 3.2-litre straight-six that powered the E46 M3.
Both powertrains have been tinkered with by the team at SVE, with upgrades including new an upgraded crankshaft, forged pistons and rods, while a bespoke carbon-fibre intake manifold and a new exhaust system with stainless steel and Inconel components help extract the best possible noise from the Bavarian power units. For those concerned with the numbers, the inline-six produces around 400bhp, while the V8 will be good for around 450bhp.
Lucky buyers will also be pleased to hear that the car is relatively lightweight. The straight-six-powered Oletha weighs in at 1360kg, while the V8-powered coupe tips the scales at 1400kg, so the Oletha will be plenty fast. A six-speed manual gearbox feeds the rear wheels via a mechanical limited-slip differential to ensure all that power reaches the tarmac.
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 V8 version is $450,000 (around £415,000) and, while the inline-six version will likely cost a bit less, don’t expect anything less than an eye-watering price tag.
Next up, check out BMW M Reveals Secret Projects Including A V8-Powered E46 M3 & An E60 M5 CSL