Currently reading: BMW Skytop concept set for limited production
Bosses say striking luxury sports car – possibly named Z8 – would be an “instant classic”

BMW’s Skytop Concept car is ready for homologation and could be built in very small numbers with deliveries as soon as next year, according to company bosses.

The 8 Series-based car was officially revealed at Villa d’Este on 24 May and uses the M8’s 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8, tuned for 626bhp. It is inspired by the Z8 and has several design nods to the 2000s car. 

Speaking at the event, BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk said: “The headlamps, the tail-lights, they're new. They're as slim as we could possibly make them. But we know they could be homologated.

“If we do it, I think we should do it in a very limited production. Very limited. Like we did with 3.0 CSL. We made 50 pieces of that. 

“Then I think that would make some sense. Then it becomes a dream car. Maybe an instant classic. There’s no need to turn it into a big series production car.

“We could deliver within a year if we were to go that way.”

BMW M CEO Frank van Meel added: “It is a little bit like a test balloon. You show the cars, and if there's enough demand, it can be built. 

“I think the demand is quite high. So probability is quite high. We’ll see over the next few weeks if that interest translates into purchasing orders.

“The probability is there. It shows we always want to try new things and see if there is a demand. Even though we’re a big company, it’s not the main purpose to build a small series.

“But if you listen to your customers and they say every now and then to do something like this and we do it – I think it’s a nice gesture to show that we are not only into let's say the cars we build everyday, but we can also do something special if demand is there.”

Skytop: everything we know

The upmarket open-top, which features a removable Targa-style roof and an integral roll-over hoop was shown at the Villa d’Este concours, which is a celebration of some of the most luxurious and flamboyant cars ever made.

This spirit is reflected in the design of the Concept Skytop, which apes classic BMW grand tourer proportions, with a long probing bonnet, a cabin set well back within a long wheelbase and a boot that slopes down subtly at the rear.

But while there is tradition in the shape, much of the two-seater’s design is very much rooted in the present, such as the smooth surfacing, elegant lines, advanced lighting, brushed aluminium highlights and overall detailing.

A heavily tapered kidney grille with two separate illuminated elements and horizontal louvres give the front end a pointed profile that is reminiscent of the brand’s old ‘shark-nose’ visage. Ultra-thin LED headlights and huge vents in the bonnet enhance the aggressive, sporting look.


Read our review

Car review

BMW flagship returns after a 20-year hiatus to inject some glamour into the brand

Back to top

BMW Concept Skytop front

Further back, the Skytop adopts a heavily raked windscreen and a Targa-style roof with two separate leather-trimmed elements that are designed to be stowed in a dedicated cubby in the boot.

The individual roof panels attach to the top of the windscreen and a leather-trimmed roll-bar hoop behind the seats. The hoop forms the frame of an upright rear window, which is bookmarked either side by prominent buttresses with a Hofmeister kink along their leading edge.

The buttresses sit above wide rear haunches that extend towards the rear to visually elongate the new concept. The boot features a distinctive central divider that mirrors the one in the bonnet, and it curves up into a small ducktail spoiler that bears a resemblance to the E63-generation 6 Series created under former BMW design chief Chris Bangle.

Like the Z8, produced from 1999-2006, the Skytop features thin horizontal brake lights, which use OLED technology. Lower down, two oval-shaped tailpipes are integrated into the rear bumper.

Long doors with three subtle feature lines and winglets that replace conventional door handles provide entry to a leather-trimmed – and remarkably realistic – interior. The cabin includes the latest generation of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, a familiar shifter for the automatic gearbox and a conventional multifunction steering wheel.

Back to top

BMW Concept Skytop interior

Similar in style and layout to that of the existing 8 Series, it also features leather seats with brogue-like accents and stitching, together with the use of crystal on the gearlever and stainless steel for the pedals.

BMW’s latest concept eschews pure-electric power for what the company calls “the most powerful V8 engine in the BMW drivetrain portfolio” – namely, the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged unit that powers the most powerful M cars and produces up to 626bhp in its most potent guise. That’s another spiritual nod to the Z8, which used a 5.0-litre V8 powerplant with 395bhp and 369lb ft of torque.

No technical specifications for the Concept Skytop have been revealed, though Autocar has been told that it is based on the CLAR platform, which underpins every BMW model from the 3 Series upwards.

Should it get the green light for production, the road-ready version of the Skytop would be expected on sale in early 2026 as a replacement for today’s 8 Series, which was launched in 2018. While this concept envisions a luxury convertible, the 8 Series is currently also available as a coupé and a four-door fastback, but it is unclear whether BMW plans to keep offering all three derivatives.

BMW Concept Skytop rear

Back to top

This is the first future-looking BMW show car since the Concept 4 – revealed at the Geneva motor show in 2019 as a preview of the current 4 Series – to be powered by a combustion engine.

The brand is ramping up to launch its Neue Klasse family of EVs from 2025, but it has not yet put an end date on petrol and diesel cars and the Skytop suggests it still sees a future for large-capacity motors in certain segments.

Murray Scullion

Murray Scullion
Title: Digital editor

Murray has been a journalist for more than a decade. During that time he’s written for magazines, newspapers and websites, but he now finds himself as Autocar’s digital editor.

He leads the output of the website and contributes to all other digital aspects, including the social media channels, podcasts and videos. During his time he has reviewed cars ranging from £50 - £500,000, including Austin Allegros and Ferrari 812 Superfasts. He has also interviewed F1 megastars, knows his PCPs from his HPs and has written, researched and experimented with behavioural surplus and driverless technology.

Murray graduated from the University of Derby with a BA in Journalism in 2014 and has previously written for Classic Car Weekly, Modern Classics Magazine,, and CAR Magazine, as well as

Join the debate

Add a comment…
veearrsix 28 May 2024
What a waste of space, the only reason for anyone to buy one would be if the did limit production and made it forced the exclusivity. Then maybe some rich numpties might over pay for an 8 series in worse bling than an actual 8 series. Just shows how lazy/incompetent BMW design seem to have become, to call an 8 series in questionable clothing a "concept". Yawn yawn yawn. But hey the roof fits in the boot!! Awesome!!
Just Saying 28 May 2024
Well done BMW hierarchy for allowing your design team to show what they can do and make this car a reality.
I'm sure they'll be a market provided the price isn't crazy high! Beauty.
Peter Cavellini 28 May 2024

Sure they find 50 buyers, but judging by what I've just read, the buyers of these cars buy on loyalty, you can't really like a car purely on looks, what if it drives bad?, or when your in it you can't see out of it safely?, or, are you just happy to buy one, stick it in a climate controlled garage along with your other cars,no, this isn't BMW, to me it's still not the final design, the exhaust pipes are too big, in detail there is not enough external eye Candy , not enough body contouring,overall a work in progress at best.