Chances are if you see an 8 Series today it’ll still manage to grab you attention as it first did on debut in 1989 at the Frankfurt motor show. Designed to take on the world’s finest sports coupes, the 8 Series with its wedge-shaped body and long, swooping bonnet with pop-up lights, cut quite the profile.
Twenty five years might have passed since then, but the car’s international fan community remains steadfast. They gathered recently to mark the E31’s milestone at its birthplace, with a tour of BMW Plant Dingolfing, and in Munich, where a parade of 120 cars gathered at the BMW Group headquarters.
Big cheer for Rosslyn
The BMW 850i (later renamed Ci) was powered by a 5.0-litre, 12-cylinder good for 220kW/450Nm and mated to a specially developed six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The 0-100kph sprint was covered in 6.8 seconds – at least until a new version of the 12 cylinder (now displacing 5.6 litres) was released in 1993. This 850 CSi with 280kW/550Nm at its disposal, could now cover the 0 – 100kph sprint in under six seconds. A 210kW four-litre V8 for the 840Ci also joined the line-up in 1993.
Tech highlights on the BMW 8 Series included the premier of a multi-link rear suspension, while stability control, traction control, speed-sensitive power steering and electronic damper control systems were introduced as options from 1990. New features included a belt system integrated into the seats, onboard computer, remote control central locking and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.
A total of 30 621 BMW 8 Series (including 24 hand built at Rosslyn, outside Pretoria) were produced until 1999. According to BMW, more than two thirds were 12 cylinders and just over 5000 were fitted with the bespoke manual gearbox. The range-topping 850 CSi, which was available exclusively with the manual gearbox, accounted for 1 510 unit sales.