The year was 1997. Beneath the glittering lights of the Tokyo Motor Show, a legend was born, not as it was destined to be, but as a whisper of pure, unadulterated potential. This was the BMW Z07 Concept, a coupe that would rewrite the rulebook on automotive beauty. The car was a homage to the legendary 507 roadster, a car that epitomized the glamour and speed of a bygone era. The Z07 was its modern heir, a sleek, muscular coupe that wows us decades later. The design, penned by Henrik Fisker, was a masterpiece of flowing lines and subtle curves. The signature element was the double-bubble roof, inspired by Italian design house Zagato, that gave the Z07 an air of otherworldly sophistication. Last week, we had a chance to see the car live for the first time. The 2024 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este gave us the opportunity to explore this car from up close.

Codename Z07

The car was designed by a team led by Chris Bangle, but the exterior was the work of Henrik Fisker. What Fisker was able to do with the Z07 was create a modern, for the time, interpretation of the most beautiful BMW 507 of the 1950s. The long hood, short rear deck and double-bubble roof are all reminiscent of a bygone era. Even thought the beautiful coupe never made it into production, the essence of the Z07 remained. In 1999, the world was introduced to the Z8, a convertible iteration of the Z07. It was a success, a car that captured hearts and commanded astronomical prices. But for a select few, the Z8 was always a bittersweet reminder of the Z07, the coupe that could have been.

The interior of the Z07 is a nostalgic nod to the era when Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen drove convertible sports cars. It features a painted plastic panel that stretches across the dashboard, reminiscent of the metal dashboards of the past. The three-spoke steering wheel, with each spoke made up of four metal rods, and the centrally placed gauges, make the Z07’s interior both beautiful and charismatic.

5.0 liter V8 Under The Hood

The Z07 wasn’t just a showstopper; it is a powerhouse as well. A monstrous V8 engine lurks beneath the hood, the S62 5.0 liter, which produces 394 hp and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft) of torque in the E39 M5. When the Z07 evolved into the Z8, it could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and complete the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat, outpacing the Ferrari 360 Spider. This meant the Z8 had the performance to match its stunning looks. Unfortunately, BMW only produced 5,703 units of the Z8. The good news for BMW is that all 5,703 units sold out immediately. The bad news for enthusiasts is that these cars now sell for over $100k or more. With that engine, the BMW Z8 Coupe could have expanded the exclusive Z8 lineup and emerged as a highly coveted collector’s item.

The Z07 might never have made it to production, but its legacy endures. It’s a testament to the power of design and a reminder that sometimes the best cars remain dreams, inspiring future generations to push boundaries. In the quiet corners of BMW design studios, sketches of the Z07 may gather dust, waiting for the day when technology and market demand bring this legendary car to life.

[Photos credit: BMW AG / BMW Classic]