Have you ever heard someone say that there is nothing new today, everything is just a rehashed form of something that has already been done before? Well, the sang holds true for more than just music and movies. Cars have been reincarnated in various forms, and different styling elements have carried through entire makes or models across the span of many decades. For this series, I'm going to examine a few cars that have appeared in these varying forms.
For this entry, I'm going to look at the 1957 BMW 507 and the 2002 BMW Z8. Both cars were BMW's halo vehicles at the time of their production and both cars broke with convention when they came out. The BMW 507, styled by Albrecht von Goertz (whose styling elements are still used on Bimmers today) featured smoothed out styling lines and an aggressive looking shark-nosed front-end. Besides modern styling, the car's intensive use of aluminum, including an aluminum body and the first all aluminum V8, set it apart from its rivals. The car cost between $9,500 and $10,000 when new, drawing obvious comparisons to another German sportscar. As a result of the high price, and the fact that BMW carried the car as a loss leader, only 252 vehicles were built from November 1956 until early 1959. The car did have a few famous owners though, including Elvis Presley and John Surtees.
The BMW Z8 was heralded as the updated version of the 507. Carrying similar styling, from the shark-nosed front-end to the tapered tail and front fender vents, the Z8 further emulated the 507 with an aluminum V8 (in this case, the 400 hp 5.0L V8 from the E39 BMW M5), and an aluminum body [and frame]. The interior featured a center mounted gauge cluster and a vintage style steering wheel with chrome, spoked arms. Debuting first as the Z07 Concept in 1997, and being offered to the public in 2000, the Z8 gained an immediate following and dealers quickly added up to $80,000 to the already lofty $128,000 price tag. In all, about 5700 Z8's were built, with most ending up in the US.
Today, Z8's have already reached a unique status as a semi-collectible vehicle, with depreciation leveling off and a variety of cars to be had in the $90-120,000 range, representing a surprisingly strong retention of value for a newer car. 507's, on the other hand, have become full blown collectibles. Prices have gone up 50% from 1999 to today, with pristine examples taking in as much as $400,000. Finally, the 507 is getting some of the much deserved attention that the aforementioned cross-country rival had stolen so much of to begin with.