- Purchased new by visionary Apple founder Steve Jobs
- Documented with California registration and BMW service records
- California ownership from new with 15,200 original miles
Before his untimely passing in October 2011 at the age of 56, Steve Jobs and Apple contributed unimaginably to the technology that has integrated itself into our daily lives. Making computer technology more user-friendly and accessible to the masses, Jobs turned computers and technology from tools for commercial use into objects of art and aesthetic design, showing that a product conceived to make communication and organization more efficient can also be intuitive, user-friendly, and beautiful. Steve Jobs endeavored to “Think Different.” So did Apple. Thanks to them, many other organizations and individuals did as well. The iPhone, in particular, upon release surpassed not only the transformation of the mobile phone, but also proved to be virtually magical from the standpoint of both users and the industry.
BMW similarly chose to think different when developing the Z8 throughout the 1990s and into the car’s regular production in the early 2000s. Serving as a halo car for the marque and a test bed for new engineering technologies, the Z8 convertible showed where BMW and automotive technology could be heading in the 21st century. With styling evocations from the highly prized 507, but decidedly forward thinking, it pioneered an advanced technique of welded and extruded aluminum space frame construction. Modern amenities were abundant, and with 400 bhp on tap, those lucky enough to own a Z8 new were left wanting for nothing. Widely considered by many to be one of the most attractive yet innovative cars of the 2000s, it quickly became a bona-fide modern collectable. In its road test of the car in its May 2000 issue, Car and Driver concluded, “name another car that is both fabulous to drive today and likely to be found on the 18th green at Pebble Beach in 2025.”
THE STEVE JOBS Z8
While not known to be a car enthusiast per se, Steve Jobs did have a penchant for German automobiles and design, owning BMW motorcycles and Mercedes-Benz SLs. According to legend, Jobs was convinced to buy the Z8 by Larry Ellison, the iconoclastic CEO of Oracle, who enthused to Jobs the car was a paragon of modern automotive engineering and ergonomics, reflective of Steve’s own products and psyche.
Jobs’ Z8 was well suited to his signature, minimalist style, finished in Titanium over a Black leather interior. With a production date of 1 April 2000, this early example was delivered to him on 6 October of that year. Within the recorded production of Z8s, this makes his car the 85th Z8 produced for the first year of U.S.-specification production and the 67th customer car. Jobs’ ownership is documented through several service invoices accompanying the car, as well as a copy of the all-important California “pink slip” registration in his name and at his personal residence. This is significant because Jobs famously and rarely registered his cars to protect his anonymity (and also perhaps because of his anti-authoritarian streak!).
Jobs kept the car until 2003 before it was sold to the Los Angeles-based current owner. This individual subsequently kept the car for about one year, driving it regularly during that time, before deciding to sell the car onto its third owner, unsurprisingly a Bay Area tech executive in September of 2004. Almost immediately regretting his decision to sell and missing the car after about 18 months, the current owner contacted his buyer from San Francisco and convinced him to sell the car back, and he did. In April 2006, the car returned to its current (now second and fourth) owner and it has remained with him ever since.
Rather than leave the Z8 dormant as a museum piece, he opted to drive the car regularly. Over the course of the last 17 years, the car has been driven just 15,200 miles from new, averaging less than 1,000 miles a year. As one would expect, it remains in exemplary condition throughout, and has always been serviced and maintained as necessary on a regular basis by its current custodian.
The car comes with a plethora of important accessories, including its proper hardtop and hardtop stand, car cover, owner’s and service manuals, service records, two keys, navigation CDs, and—most significantly—its original BMW-branded Motorola flip-phone. Interestingly enough, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Jobs was known to have hated the Motorola phone.
Even today, six years after his untimely passing, it is difficult to think of anyone more iconic or influential to our modern culture than Steve Jobs. His superior intellect, entrepreneurial spirit, quality of his products, and reputation of the company he founded helped evolve Apple into the world’s most valuable public company, bar none.
His work subsequently reinventing Apple with the Macintosh, iMac, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch revolutionized how people interact with computers, the Internet, and music. In doing so, the Apple logo is as recognizable around the world as that of Coca-Cola. Jobs’ involvement with Pixar—and subsequently Disney—revolutionized the animated film industry, bringing joy to millions with blockbuster after blockbuster. His work captivated a generation and transcended cultures, not unlike musicians such as John Lennon, Bob Dylan, or Janis Joplin in the last century
Without a doubt BMWs most iconic car of the 21st century, the Z8 upon its launch was the pinnacle of BMW design and technology, and it is not surprising that the car attracted the attention of someone like Steve Jobs. To the general public, Jobs’ legacy and influence in technology is unquestionably tangible and highly accessible with over one billion iPhones sold to date, not to mention Apple’s computers that brought high concept design and intuitive functionality to the masses.
However, Jobs owned only one Z8. This is that car.