The BMW 8 Series: BMW’s best grand tourer

Concepts, Interesting | February 4th, 2016 by 12
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The year was 1989, a time when Zubaz pants and Madonna were both extremely popular, to the disbelief of people today, and BMW was creating quite …

The year was 1989, a time when Zubaz pants and Madonna were both extremely popular, to the disbelief of people today, and BMW was creating quite possibly its best grand touring car of its history — The E31 BMW 8 Series.

The E31 was the only 8 Series model BMW has ever made, which is sad because it was fantastic and fans have wanted more ever since. However, it did last ten years, with production ending in 1999, making it one of the longest lasting BMW models ever. The fact that the car lasted a decade with almost no changes done to it is a testament to just how excellent it was.

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The BMW 8 Series was available in 840i, 850i and 850CSi trim, which were available with a V8, a V12 and a pumped up V12, respectively. The BMW 840i first came with the same 4.0 liter V8 as the 740i but soon after switched to the 4.4 liter V8 as the 740i did. The 850i was the first ever BMW model launched with the 5.0 liter M70 V12. The 850CSi used a highly tuned version of the M70 V12, dubbed the S70 and displaced 5.6 liters. The 8 Series lineup was available with either a four-speed auto, five-speed auto or a six-speed manual gearbox.

All BMW 8 Series’, regardless of which model, came with those outstanding looks. That classic wedge shape with pop-up headlamps, the long hood and short rear deck gave the 8 Series an iconic shape that has lasted for decades and will continue to live on as one of BMW’s best looking cars. During a time when the Mercedes-Benz SL Class was the most popular grand tourer, with its boxy styling and boring design, the 8 Series really shook things up and added some much needed style to the segment.

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The 8 Series also proved that BMW could do big, luxurious grand touring, as opposed to the typical small sports cars that BMW had a reputation for making. It was a defining moment for the brand. It even spawned one of the most talked about BMW myths in the brand’s history, the M8. Fans were begging for a BMW M8 and BMW actually made one, in secret, but never sold it. In fact, no one even knew of its existence until far after the 8 Series like was discontinued and fans didn’t catch a glimpse of it until a few years ago. It was like BMW’s Bigfoot.

But BMW never continued the 8 Series model line, despite its large fanbase. Whether it be because the 8 Series didn’t meet its sales expectations or because BMW didn’t see a viable market for it in the future, BMW decided that the 8 Series would be no more. And this upset many fans of the Bavarian brand who wanted more of the grand touring excellence that the 8 Series brought. Fans wanted a newer model with more power, more performance and more luxury.


BMW may have finally listened to its fans and has teased us with its Vision Future Luxury Concept, which may become a BMW 9 Series, the spiritual successor to the 8 Series. Now, if such a car does eventually come, it will be a bit much more luxurious than the 8 Series was back in the day and be placed higher in the food chain. Either way, though, fans will be happy that BMW has finally given them the successor, spiritual or otherwise, that they’ve been wanting for so long.

Here is a series of videos showcasing the 8 Series:

12 responses to “The BMW 8 Series: BMW’s best grand tourer”

  1. Russell says:

    This article is a bit parochial – the 8er was dropped because no-one wanted them. The early models had all sorts of weaknesses (read any review of the time – they are all scathing) and it wasn’t until the 850CSi with all it’s suspension tweaks came along that it became a great Grand Tourer, but you paid a lot of cash for those improvements. 8ers were still in BMW sales yards long after production stopped, because the SL was not it’s competitor (it was never a grand tourer – it had a tiny boot/trunk and was strictly a 2 seater) but 8er shoppers were going for the epic Mercedes 500SEC V8 and 560SEC V12, or the new Jaguar XK8, both of which totally outclassed it.
    My biggest problem with the article, however is the premise that it is the best GT BMW ever – the F12 and F14 are not just better in every respect than the E31, they are class leaders in their segment, something the E31 could never claim.

    • Matt Stokes says:

      Nostalgia. Seems to infect BMW fans all too often!

      I love the 8-er. But you are right, this car was not a success. M8 was canned, 8-er convertible was canned, 830Ci was canned… didn’t sell anywhere near the 6-er.. had a massive engine during a recession…

      We can remember it fondly, but we can’t re-write history.

      • ^This. While it was by no means perfect, putting time between it and us has made most BMW fans quite fond of it. It’s an irrational and emotional desire, to want an 8 Series but, then again, every BMW is more emotional than it is rational.

        • Russell says:

          Yep – Don’t get me wrong – if I see a RHD 850CSi coming up for sale, I’ll be inspecting that baby – I want one, but we shouldn’t say it is anything more than an emotional attachment.

      • Russell says:

        Funnily enough, I often wonder if that was the problem – the 830 could have answered some of the biggest problems – thirst and price during a recession, the M8 could have given it a proper niche (no AMG SEC or XK-R in those days), and the convertible is drop dead gorgeous – my knees buckled the first time I saw it at the museum.

        • Brendan Smith says:

          Museum in Munich?! Yeah that was where I first saw the 8 series convertible. Would’ve been an unbelievable car!!!

      • Terry Cowan says:

        The design was dull on first sight. Apparently that has aged well also.

    • Mladen Lučić says:

      To each there own…I have had my 1996 840 for 12 years now and it seems the car gets better with time just like a fine bottle of wine.

      I have kept mine al original, except for the tinted windows. It’s great owning a rare car. It has been nearly a year since i have seen another 8 driving on the streets.

      The 8 series gets a lot of attention for it’s stylish looks and that is what counts the most :)

      I have personally never been a speed freak, so i can appreciate the car more for what it was rather than what some people wanted it to be.

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