The BMW 507 was launched in 1956, a total of only 254 cars were ever built. With an optional 3:42 gear ratio, the 507 Albrecht Goertz designed vehicle could achieve a top speed of 138mph. The 507 is still regarded today one of the most beautiful cars ever to be crafted. It’s smooth lines oozed elegance, style, and prestige.
- Manufacturer: BMW
- Model: Z8
- Top Speed: 155 mph
- Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds
- Engine Capacity: 4941cc
When the BMW design team were asked to design the Z8 the brief was simple; ‘to create the most desirable car that they had ever built’. The designers used the brief as a reason to draw inspiration from the classic 507, a car which was still regarded as highly desirable in the current market. Taking ideas from the cars shape, and posture the designers tried to capture the spirit of the existing 507, and transform it into a modern day sports car. Once completed, the two cars were very similar in appearance, it was clear that the 507 was dated at over 40 years old, but the revamped version matched up to everything in the brief, and the V-8 powered highway cruiser was given the name “Z07” as a tribute to its heritage.
It was in 1997 that BMW premiered the front-engined Z07 as a concept car to its audience at the Tokyo Auto Show. The automotive world fell in love with its looks, the announced specifications were nothing short of breathtaking, and it appeared that the team had created a success.
With public interest at a high, BMW bosses took the decision to take the Z07 into production. To maintain exclusivity the car was to be built in limited numbers only. Whilst a few changes were made, the spirit of the 507 were at the forefront of the designers minds, the original car had been built from aluminium, so with the exception of the bumpers and a minor amount of stylised details, the Z07’s bodywork was to keep this traditional aspect of its build.
The rigid monocoque frame was to be built at BMW’s Dingolfing plant, where the current 3 Series convertible hardtop, M3 hood, and 7 Series hood and front fender were already being produced at the plants aluminium treating facility. This aluminium bodywork allowed the car 30% less weight that if it were to be built using steel., this contributed to the ease of suspension tuning, which BMW believed would add to positive driver feedback for it’s new 394bhp flagship car, which had now been re-named the “Z8”.
Months before the Z8 was ready to go on sale, the producers of the Bond films, Eon, and members of the 19th Bond’s production design team were faced with the prospect of choosing a final vehicle for James Bond to get behind the wheel of, before the 3 picture contract with BMW expired.
Together with the producers, and director, production designer; Peter Lamont, a veteran of the franchise selected the Z8 for the “Q-Branch” treatment. However, a problem arose, the limited edition Z8 was not available for filming, and a solution had to be found.
Special-effects experts requested the Z8’s body panels from the BMW-AG group. Utilising replica AC Cobra kit-cars by Dax, technicians transformed the Cobra into what passed on-screen for the flagship BMW.
To set-up a sort of in-joke, as part of the car battle sequence, Bond is shown using his keys to remotely drive the Z8, leading the audience to believe they are going to be treated to another chase in the same style as Tomorrow Never Dies, however James Bond jumps into the car early on, and disposes of pursuing enemy helicopter using a surface-to-air missile system introduced by John Cleese, and the late Desmond Lleweyln earlier in the film.
Cleese’s character also brags of multi-tasking heads-up display, titanium armour… and six beverage cup holders (yet, why you would need six drinks in a two seated car still eludes me).
Living on in James Bond, the Z8 stopped production in November 2002. Tuning brand Alpina bought the rites to the Z8 and developed a more elusive model under their own brand-name.
The £80,000 left-hand-drive only Z8, was by far the most glamorous set of wheels James Bond had drive to date. Like the 507 before it, the Z8 oozes charisma, and style with a multitude of chrome highlights and leather upholstery, the BMW design team achieved their brief by getting the world’s greatest action hero behind the wheel, instantly attaining desirability, and immortalising the Z8 with a place in cinematic history.