Achingly cool BMW with superstar credentials is coming up for sale
There’s something about celebrity that tends to drive us hoi polloi to take leave of our senses. Case in point? Paul Newman’s old Rolex Daytona, which just sold for $17.8m USD. And, as much as we have maintained a man-crush on Mr Newman over the years, it is too damn much for something that fits on your wrist.
But what about cars? Don’t even get us started on the silly money that a little celebrity ownership can garner – especially if the car is rare and desirable to begin with.
Well, BMW only made 5,700 Z8s over five years, and most tended to find their way into the hands of the rich and famous. This one? None other than Steve Jobs.
And, even if you’re an Android fanboy, you’re likely to want this one. Not only is it rare as a cockerel’s bicuspid, but this particular example has been obsessively cared for and driven just 15,000 miles.
Jobs bought the Z8 in California, way back in October of the year 2000, even going as far as to register it with vanity plates. And this is from a man who exploited a legal loophole that allowed him to drive cars without any number plates, to protect his anonymity – at least, in an era before every phone was an internet-connected camera… Oh. Way to be hoisted by your own petard, mate.
Interestingly enough, one of the Z8’s standard inclusions in the US of A was a BMW-branded Motorola flip phone – which Jobs (unsurprisingly) hated with a vehement passion. Interesting where inspiration comes from, isn’t it?
Phone aside, Jobs had the Z8 delivered in Space Grey… er, silver, with a black leather interior. Apparently the ‘Think Different’ mantra did not extend to the shade of a brand-new BMW sports car.
While Jobs apparently wasn’t a noted petrolhead in the same way as, say, Jay Leno (or Jay Kay, for that matter), even he was taken in by the frankly gorgeous proportions of the Z8. And that interior.
And all the right elements were there – the V8 from the seminal E39 M5 was mated to a delicious six-speed manual and mounted behind the front axle for 50-50 weight distribution. The styling echoed the gorgeous BMW 507. Zero to 60 was all over in just 4.7 seconds, thanks to its combination of light aluminium construction and 400bhp V8.
The Z8 also made a virtue of simplicity – aside from ABS and stability control, it was unfettered by the onslaught of nannying tech that swaddles modern cars. OK, it was a bit of a dog’s breakfast to drive with any sort of verve, but, as a top-down cruiser, it ran happily enough, sounded great and was certainly very pretty.
And, in our minds, that was perfect for someone like Mr Jobs, who put so much stock in style and simplicity. And, to be fair, history exonerates both BMW and Jobs – both the Z8 and the iPhone are paragons of design.
As you may have noticed, it seems to have worked out for Apple, which now has more money than some countries. And for the Z8, too – or at least owners – as values have skyrocketed over the past decade.
So, just how much does a rare-fish BMW, designed by Henrik Fisker, powered by one of BMW’s all-time great V8s, driven (briefly) by Bond and bought by one of the most famous and most loved tech geniuses of all time?
Well, it’s probably going to hit US$300,000 to $400,000 at RM Sotheby’s ‘Icons’ auction in Manhattan on December 6th. This, translated from freedom dollars and into sterling, is about £230,000 to £305,000 – or, enough to buy at least 200 iPhone Xs with 256GB of storage.
Now, which is the better deal? We thought so.
STORY CRAIG JAMIESON