The story of Willem and Kaess Smit, founders of Smit Vehicle Engineering (SVE), is probably familiar to a lot of us. They describe themselves as being "captivated" by the "raw sensory and emotional allure" of BMWs as kids, a feeling that stayed with them into adulthood. But instead of indulging that passion by, say, buying a BMW as a grown-up, the Smit brothers have gone several steps better and built one.
The Oletha is SVE's bold attempt to combine all the best bits of classic BMWs in one car. "We created this vehicle to provoke a tactile, unfiltered, and challenging driving experience", which sounds a great place to begin. The look is clearly inspired by the Z8, most notably from behind, and with a bit of 507 from the front, but the donor car is an original Z4 Coupe - no need to devise a fixed roof for a convertible, and an awful lot cheaper.
The engine is from the E92 M3 GTS, because why have any old BMW V8 when you could have the S65B44, perhaps the most exciting eight-cylinder engine ever made by the firm? Said to produce more power here than the 450hp it was originally offered with, the 4.4-litre V8 revs to 8,500rpm and has been paired here with a six-speed manual, where the GTS only came with a DCT. In case you weren't extremely interested already...
This isn't simply some rebodied Z4 hot rod, either, as the Oletha comes with KW adjustable suspension, AP Racing brakes and forged wheels. That stunning body is made of carbon composite, too, which means a kerbweight of just 3,090 pounds, or 1,400kg. That's more than 100kg less than the M3 the Oletha shares an engine with.
SVE is serious about building its "love letter to the BMW of our childhoods", too. Not only will each build be bespoke to the customer's request, the Smits are welcoming requests "requiring additional design and engineering efforts". A roadster could be pretty cool, for example, and they've created a real, physical car already, which is an awful lot more than many attempting similar homage projects. So anything after this ought to be easy...
As yet, SVE hasn't issued any pricing information on the Oletha. Partly, of course, because it doesn't manufacture or sell cars; the legal notice makes it clear that the company "restores and modifies clients' licensed BMW automobiles." And partly there won't be a price released because each build will probably cost a different amount - albeit always a lot, that can be guaranteed. The V8 is going to be expensive enough to source on its own, before thinking about the hours that go into the carbon bodywork. But as new BMWs continue in their baffling design direction, the appeal of a throwback coupe isn't hard to see - even if it does cost the price of several M3s.
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