It’s early afternoon on a sunny spring weekday, and the Smit brothers are waiting for me beside the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s one of the world’s most famous road trip destinations, and I’m prepared to argue they’ve made one of the more glamorous cars to have ever rolled along it.
BMW never made a Z8 coupé, which, if you’re a fan of coupés (as I am and I think the Smits are) is perhaps a shame. This car looks like one. It isn’t one, but it looks like one.
Kaess and Willem Smit are both engineers and between them have spent time with high-tech manufacturers and tuners, working in aerospace and for Tesla and Porsche 911 modifier Singer. They clearly work well together and are unashamed BMW fans. They’ve also noticed that the world is currently quite keen on restored/modified cars.
Joining all those dots of interest, and adding in the fact that they’re still young and flexible enough to do something about it, here we are with the Smit Vehicle Engineering Oletha prototype.
The reason it’s not a Z8 coupé is because it’s actually a BMW Z4. We will come back to that. First, though, neither of the pair is a stylist, and nor am I, and I don’t write much about design too much, because although there’s an element of objectivity to proportions, there are pictures, so you can make up your own mind. But if you will allow me, this looks like the beautiful Z8 coupé we never had.
It’s 250mm longer at the rear than the Z4 and around 50mm narrower, which still leaves it a fairly compact 4350mm long and 1850mm wide. And the Z4 works as the basis for this project because the proportions suit the carbonfibre body perfectly, and it means Smit doesn’t have to start cutting up an ultra-rare Z8 for the fun of it. Besides, the Z4 is a notably strong mechanical platform.