Courtesy of Bonhams
In 1956, BMW released the 507, a stunning two-seat roadster that delivered exhilarating performance, luxury and rarity and that remains one of the most coveted BMW models ever produced. At the 1997 Tokyo Auto Show, BMW displayed a stylish retro-inspired concept car, the Z07. The Henrik Fisker-designed concept was initially intended to merely exist as a sole concept, however the incredible reception and overwhelmingly positive acclaim spurred the decision to put it into limited serial production in 1999. The resulting Z8 remained remarkably faithful to the Z07 concept, with the 507-like twin-nostril front grille and distinctive front-wing vents. A period-style interior had been one of the Z07’s most remarked-upon features, and that, too, made it into the Z8, including a banjo-style steering wheel. The sleek and taut bodywork was all wrought in aluminum, as was the space-frame chassis. The V8 engine was aluminum as well, with massive torque and horsepower figures. Needless to say, the Z8 was fitted with all the luxury appointments befitting a flagship model: traction control, stability control, front and side air bags, GPS navigation, climate control and power operation of the seats, steering wheel and convertible top. Along with being a stunning, hand-built, limited-production roadster, BMW further enhanced the Z8’s appeal to collectors by announcing that a 50-year stockpile of Z8 parts would be maintained. Despite a hefty launch price, initial demand was so high that a bidding war broke out, with many Z8s selling for well in excess of MSRP. By the time production ceased in 2002, 5,703 of these fabulous cars had been built. With production of the Z8 completed by November 2002, for 2003 the Z8 was replaced by the limited-edition Alpina V8 Roadster. A new, softer grade of Nappa leather replaced the Z8’s less-supple specification, and special Alpina gauges were featured on the dash cluster. An Alpina steering wheel with three solid spokes replaced the original, and larger Alpina wheels were fitted. In the United States, this special-edition Z8 was sold directly through BMW dealerships, marking a first for Alpina, whose cars had never been sold through retail channels in the U.S. Only 555 of these Alpinas were built. This Alpina V8 Roadster, one of just 555 examples produced worldwide, landed on U.S. shores on March 4, 2003. Two months later, the first owner took delivery of this sporty roadster in Knoxville, TN. During the first owner’s brief 15 months with the car, this Alpina covered nearly half of its overall miles. The car then ventured west to San Francisco, where its second and current owner acquired it. The consignor has covered just over 8,000 miles in this stunning V8-engined Alpina and showed the car occasionally, including several appearances at the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance. It has been serviced regularly and used sparingly over the past 11 years. Having covered such low miles since new, this two-seater remains in excellent original condition. The Silver Metallic paintwork, complemented by the unmistakable 20-inch Alpina multi-spoke wheels, is in excellent condition and accentuates the sleek BMW 507-inspired bodywork. The interior, swathed in black and red leather, is in similarly great condition with no discernible wear. This car has undergone several services within the past year, including new tires, gaskets, and a new starter motor. The Alpina-tuned V8 engine runs admirably, and the Steptronic automatic transmission shifts without incident. This rare German convertible is ready to be driven and enjoyed by its third owner. Included with the sale are the original books, toolkit, extensive service records, and the matching factory hard top and stand.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2003 BMW Alpina V8 Roadster
Years Produced:2003
Number Produced:555
Original List Price:$137,595
SCM Valuation:Median to date, $181,200; high sale, $309,269
Tune Up Cost:$600–$1,200
Chassis Number Location:Driver’s side dash at windshield
Engine Number Location:Top of block, stamped between cylinder banks
Alternatives:2002–03 BMW Z8 Roadster, 1995–98 Porsche 993 Carrera cabriolet, 1996–2001 Ferrari 550 Maranello
Investment Grade:B


This car, Lot 18, sold for $253,000, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Scottsdale, AZ, auction on January 28, 2016.

My first indoctrination about anything “ALL-PEEN-AH” was in 1983. I remember it the same way I remember Kate Beckinsale holding one of my twins on Halloween a few years ago. Speechless. Utterly speechless. A fond memory scorched into that part of my cortex via my shocked cornea that will forever hold life’s greatest moments. To this day I regret not having a camera on either occasion! But back to 1983…

While shopping for a much-coveted Momo steering wheel to fit on my newly acquired 1969 BMW 1600 and begging for a discount (just blew every penny I had — $4,800 — on the 1600) at Beaconwood Motors in Watertown, MA, I spied a very unusual and appealing object of art.

BMW Alpina love

Being offered for the gargantuan sum of $10,000 (priced firmly) — I realized I was in the midst of BMW greatness — was an Alpina-built 1973 2002. This was, up until that time, the coolest BMW I had ever seen. It was my first taste of proper Germanic tuning. I got the full schooling on how “in the hands of a marque-specific engineering company” one could make something that was perceived to be perfect even more outrageously fun. Ruf, AMG and Alpina were of the moment and hip.

This car was much more than just a set of body-long decals, map lights and accessory sport steering wheel. This was the “dog’s bollocks” with an uprated motor, modified gearbox, tuned suspension and tasty rims.

As an aside, there is no doubt this Kate Beckinsale of 2002s would be worth much more to me than anyone else in North America because of the aforementioned imprinting should that car ever blip on my radar. This personifies how things sometimes spiral out of control at an auction — it’s all about reacquiring your rose-colored, youth-inspired memories by virtue of being the high bidder. Oh, to have that moment in 1983 back.

About a decade later — and still feverishly waving the BMW enthusiast flag — I acquired an early six-series Alpina 1980 B9 coupe that a diplomat had brought to the U.S. This car was another illustrious example of Alpina’s engine/trans tuning, coupled with some very tasty Recaro seat and interior modifications.

This car was the textbook example of stealth, and it could munch on the recently celebrated first-generation BMW M5 for a snack. I had both of those cars in the garage at one time and thought BMW had me for life. Well, things change. Sometimes your Punky Brewster wins and your Keith Partridge loses as they age.

And BMW Alpina hate

Astute members of the SCM community may notice that this is my third attempt at being kind and thoughtful about the BMW Z8 family (February 2003, German Profile, p. 60; May 2009, German Profile, p. 42). Maybe the editorial staff hedged that even I might soften my harsher views here.

Well, third time ain’t the charm. This too-much-plastic, pimpy-two-tone-leather-interior, 5-speed-slushbox car that happens to sit on my least-favorite Alpina wheels STILL misses the bull’s-eye.

I may have quasi-maligned the much-needed professional dental community in years past by calling the Z8 a dentist’s car. I don’t feel the same way about the Alpina, so the dentist is off the hook. This is his offspring’s car. Oofah!

Where’s the beef?

The insult to me is that this car is Alpina Lite and a blatant BMW marketing exercise with no tasty filet consumed. We are left with just a skillet of sizzle during this Munchen-luncheon.

Boil the gripe down to the final version offering less performance and sporting drive versus the resultant GT luxury comfy car. This is not the Alpina your grandfather Fritz drove in anger on the Autobahn.

If your desire is to have a cushier Z8 — that is rarer than the first- generation convertible — you’ve succeeded. But this car still leaves a sour taste in my mouth. This Alpina is simply too sanitized to warrant wearing that badge. This is more eunuch than unicorn.

The folks in Buchloe did build the powerplant and mated it with the transmission. But they went backwards in the final product — if you compare what Alpina did to prior generations of BMWs. That’s my bone to pick. This could have been a Rolls-Royce BMW and I would have happily accepted that.

A clean car and a good buy

There is a positive spin here from my calmer, unbiased side. This particular Alpina is a very clean example and was purchased for a righteous price.

Market study shows a wide chasm in pricing — one that is often due to the importance of color (this market may be the largest affected by color rarity that I’ve ever seen), mileage, factory service upgrades and, of course, whether the hard top and carrier, factory book and original keys are present, and genuine Bavarian air is in the tires.

This is not the first cycle of upward pricing for a Z8/Alpina, but it might have longer legs than the first two times around the rodeo.

Along with the AMG Mercedes Benz, Ferrari Maranello/GTO/Aperta, Porsche GT/GT3RS/RS and my top-of-the-list, most-maligned-car-of-all-time Aston Martin Lagonda, the Z8/Alpina has enjoyed a 24-month run-up in value. That proves at least one segment of the private sales and auction worlds has spoken, and they like their “young-timer” cars that were produced in limited numbers. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Bonhams.)

Comments are closed.