Memory loss is not all that common an issue among young men. Though by chance, it appears to have affected several members of the Car Throttle team simultaneously. Allow me to explain... Over the past few weeks my colleagues have been waxing lyrical about the cars they consider to be the world’s best looking. Alex made a case for the Audi Sport Quattro, Ollie championed the Ferrari 288GTO, and most recently Darren fought hard for the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II. Three very different cars - and each undeniably excellent in their own right. However, I suspect the real reason behind each of my colleagues’ decisions is simply this: they forgot about the BMW Z8. Though they’ll never admit it, I guarantee that somewhere in each of their minds resides a niggling doubt. A fear, maybe. A fear that they should’ve picked the Z8 - for it is, after all, the best looking car...in the world. The Z8 can trace its routes back to 1956 and the introduction of the almost-as-sexy 507 - a handcrafted V8-sportscar designed to bridge the gap between the ultra-exclusive Mercedes 300SL and the cheaper, more accessible Triumphs and MGs of the era. BMW thought it would sell for around $5000, but production costs soon spiraled out of control, pushing the asking price up to more than $10k - or £56k in today’s money. It was a spectacular failure. BMW had initially planned to sell 5,000 per year in the US alone, but by the time production ended in 1959, and with BMW on the brink of insolvency, only 252 had been built. Weird as it is that in 1997 BMW decided to pay tribute to the car that nearly killed them, what resulted remains the company’s - née possibly the world’s most attractive design.
The Z8 was penned by Henrik Fisker - he of Aston Martin DB9, V8 Vantage and latterly, Fisker Karma fame - and his team. They were tasked with imagining what the 507 would’ve looked like today - had it never ceased production and continuously evolved over 40 years. BMW’s original press release describes the Z8 as “romantically curvaceous” - and it’s right. The front-engine, rear-drive layout permits the classic proportions of a 50s/60s roadster. With a long, lithe bonnet, pert rear, low belt-line and a cockpit slung backwards towards the rear arches - in profile the Z8 is as accomplished a design as ever there’s been. Equally stunning are the details. From the exquisitely slim rear lights, to the “gills” directly behind the front arches and the pointy double-kidney grille, the Z8 is peppered with deeply alluring styling cues. Even the door-handles are sexy, for christ’s sake. The interior is no less gorgeous. The vast swathe of aluminium that coats the top of the dash’ houses a central instrument binnacle, canted ever-so-slightly towards the driver, and many of the buttons are hidden behind retractable panels. Like the remainder of the Z8 - bar the engine, which comes from the E39 M5 - the steering-wheel is a bespoke piece. Not forgetting its (comically short) starring role in Pierce Brosnan’s penultimate Bond flick, The World is Not Enough, the Z8 is, above all else, breathtakingly cool. I know “retro” styling is all the rage at the moment, and virtually every mainstream manufacturer has had a shot at it with varying degrees of success - but the Z8 is so much more than a retro-rehash. It’s no fashion statement. It’s an homage to one of prettiest cars of all time, and it just works - dynamic ability be dammed. Shove the box. Curves are where it’s at.