The last time BMW offered a high-priced limited-run exotic sports car was the BMW Z8, with 5,703 units sold between the years 2000 to 2003. The E52 Z8 was a production variants of a concept shown in 1997 called the BMW Z07. It had an all-aluminium chassis and body, and was powered by a 4.9 litre 32 valve V8, making 400 horsepower and 500Nm. This engine was also used in the E39 M5, and in the Z8 is positioned behind the front axle to provide that 50:50 weight distribution that every BMW must have. It had a 6-speed manual, but Alpina’s took the Z8 and created the V8 Roadster using a different engine and gearbox combo.

The Alpina version was instead powered by a 4.8 litre V8 from the first gen BMW X5, tuned up to make 375hp which was less than the original Z8, however made more torque: 520Nm peaking at a lower RPM than the original engine. The Z8 was also a Bond car, it made it’s appearance in The World is Not Enough in 1999.

We might see something similiar soon – BMW will be revealing the BMW Z9 Concept at the 2007 Shanghai Auto Show beginning April 20th 2007. An industry source says this Z9 Concept will definitely make it into production, and BMW expects to sell 15,000 BMW Z9 cars a year. It will be positioned against similiar luxury sportscars like the Mercedes Benz SL and the Audi R8.

Previously a car called the Z9 Concept (shown above) had already been shown back in 1999 at Frankfurt 99, which was a 2-door roadster with gullwing doors and powered by a 245hp, 560Nm 3.9 litre V8 turbodiesel, an engine lifted from the 740d back then. I don’t think the new Z9 Concept will be anything like that old 1999 concept, as it’s been 8 years! Styling cues from the old Z9 Concept looks like they ended up in the 6-Series.