They say you should never meet your heroes (and they’re probably right). Though in some cases, things pan out differently. I had an encounter with minor automotive royalty recently and was able to shoot a roll of PanF to mark the occasion. Instead of the usual static shots we see of a vehicle, I wanted to focus more on the finer aspects of what makes the BMW Z8 truly special in my eyes.
This could be the only thing Chris Bangle has touched that I truly love. It was conceived as a tribute to the legendary 507. It’s an M5 powered V8 roadster that sold for well over $140,000CAD, if you were lucky enough to snag one. Prices have crept up over the intervening decades, there were less than 4,000 sold in North America. This example was bought new by the present owner, and has covered just over 14,000km.
So it’s a BMW Halo car, brimming with the usual German technology and gestalt presence. From every angle it shares some special point of interest, some easter egg of design that shows how careful was the concept behind this machine. As a statement piece, it’s without peer.
As such, I approached this car with reverence. I found myself photographing it more like a nude. Speaking more to the gestalt aesthetic, the car is more than the sum of its components. Anyone can slap together a V8 roadster and put it to market. This car makes plenty of concessions for the purist, for the artist and for the traditionalist. There’s something for every well-heeled connoisseur to discover and delight in.
Standing back and taking it as a whole, it’s got the classic roadster silhouette. Upon closer inspection, it’s easy to see that this vehicle was obsessed over in all the right ways. Personal ways. This machine is a work of love and a work of art. I wanted to photograph it close up, like a lover would.
The body lines flow continuously from stem to stern, over the compound headlights in their aerodynamic shells, down the efficient belt line, past the heat extractors in the fenders straight back to the sculpted deck-lid.
There are no gimmicks here. No pop-up spoilers, no active suspension. The Z8 is a driver’s car with a big V8 soundtrack, heavy steering and six manual gears. It has muscular bulges around the wheel openings, machined switchgear and makes no excuses for what it is: a designer’s love letter to the Automobile.
The chap who owns this particular car was a delight to speak with. He’s a true ‘car guy’ and it shows in his pride of ownership. (He’s also a bike guy, so we hit that note as well). I’m not in the right tax bracket to bump into him on any other occasion, but we had a lot in common and I’m certainly thankful to fellow car-nut Mark Brown for arranging the opportunity to share airspace with this magnificent car.