The sale of this BMW Z8 hit its (retreating) mark

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We often use the Sale of the Week to showcase big sales or disappointing misses—it’s not often that we share transactions that fell just about where they’re supposed to. In this case, however, the sale of a low-mileage 2001 BMW Z8 on Bring a Trailer for $280,000 including fees—almost exactly on its $275k #1 (Concours) condition value—helps articulate where the collector market finds itself as 2023 draws to a close.

Last week, we shared how some record Porsche sales were (mostly) rationally explained by their museum-quality condition and mile-long options lists. This week, analyst James Hewitt’s data dive highlighted a 16-month trend of public auction resales showing a reversion toward a buyer’s market. Ever more regularly, signs of buyer restraint complement enthusiasm for the right car. This Z8’s sale is a prime example.

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Restraint and enthusiasm could also describe the circumstances from which the Z8 emerged. Retro styling enjoyed its moment in the late ’90s and early aughts, but where other nostalgic designs bordered on the kitsch, chief designer Henrik Fisker managed pay tribute to BMW’s classic 507 from the 1950s while still keeping the Z8 thoroughly clean and modern. Debuting in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough in 1999, the Z8 caused quite the stir, and people couldn’t wait to see the car in the flesh.

Motivated by the same 4.9-liter V-8 and six-speed manual as its M5 sibling, the Z8 provided speed and soundtrack to go with its handsome traditional roadster proportions. The aluminum monocoque chassis, engine behind the centerline of the front wheels, and 50:50 weight distribution enabled the Z8 to lay down solid sports car performance while still being a capable tourer.

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Unfortunately, the Z8’s $128k starting sticker put a damper on sales, and production didn’t last long. Though not as dramatic, it found a fate similar to its 507 predecessor. As we’ve highlighted in the past, though, rarity due to a lack of sales can sometimes be a boon as a car ages into classic status.

Showing just 4900 miles and in excellent condition with the exception of some scratches on the hardtop and front fascia, this Z8 isn’t just-out-of-the-wrapper fresh, but it is close. Rewind the clock just a bit, and low-mileage Z8s in this shape were a lock for north of $300,000, and sometimes significantly more.

Times have changed rather abruptly for the Z8, though—its #1 condition value tapered from $321,000 in July of 2022 to $275,000 today. While the market is in fact cooling and many cars are seeing their values recede, the Z8’s trajectory happens to track the overall market more closely than most.

With that said, it doesn’t mean interest in the model has waned. Multiple bidders competed through the auction’s closing hours and the sale yielded a healthy result in today’s market, albeit one that is well short of what it might have achieved in the summer of 2022. People are still willing to pay top dollar, though the top just isn’t as high as it once was.

Ultimately, this Z8 sale projects rationality from both parties. Bring a Trailer expressed confidence in the car by selling it with no reserve, and buyers were willing to value it in line with the current top of the market. If this is where the market is headed, that’s not the worst thing.

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    A stellar Z8 that appears to be well bought. Looking at your graph, I’m a bit surprised at the valuation trend over the past year. That said, I expect it will maintain its value and turn back to the 300k level.

    I have never seen one of these animals before! A Z8, made in 2001? It’s a looker for sure, but they sure stole a few features from Porsche!

    Mike – It unfortunately had to be sacrificed. Bond….James Bond….driving a German car? How wrong was that. The writing was on the wall.

    Saw a Z8 in the BMW dealership on Park Lane in London in the late ’90’s. Stunned by the car. I don’t think I’ve seen one in the wild, ever.

    “Bring a Trailer expressed confidence in the car by selling it with no reserve.”

    Actually, it was the owner who expressed confidence in the car’s value, since he committed to sell it regardless of the high bid.

    Auction businesses express confidence in a car’s value when they list it WITH a reserve, showing they are confident the bids will reach the reserve (or they don’t get their fee).

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