BMW 8-Series Celebrates 25 Years


Originally unveiled at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show, the 8-Series was designed to “challenge to the world’s finest sports coupes with a design oozing avant-garde elegance, arresting performance attributes, an exceptional wealth of innovations and a sprinkling of exclusive luxury.” The BMW 8-Series, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, amid rumors that BMW is considering a new 8-Series model to take on Mercedes’ S-Class Coupe. Built for ten years between ’89 and ’99, the car dubbed ‘E31′ was a ‘clean-sheet’ design that could trace its lineage way back to BMW’s rather lovely coupes from the 1930s. And over its lifetime, BMW sold 30,621 8-Series Coupes, with exactly 24 of those hand-built at the Rosslyn plant in South Africa. More than two-thirds – over 20,000, then – were fitted with the V12, and just one in six came with a six-speed manual.

BMW 8 Series

BMW and its fans came together last weekend at BMW’s Bavarian home to celebrate the 8-Series’ quarter-century, joining a parade of as many as 120 cars. The event was put together by the BMW 8-Series clubs and ClubE31 Worldwide Owners Group, with added support from the BMW Club International Office. Owners and fans got to enjoy a tour of the Dingolfing plant, where the 8-Series was produced throughout the 1990s.

When the car was launched, it featured a 5.0-liter V12 engine that developed 296 BH{ and 450 Nm of torque. This enabled the 1,790 Kg coupe to accelerate from 0-100 KMPH in as little as 6.8 seconds. In 1993, the company introduced two new variants. The entry-level 840 Ci had a 4.0-liter V8 engine with 282 BHP, while the 850 CSi featured a 5.6-liter V12 engine that produced 376 BHP and 550 Nm of torque. A year later, the 850 Ci was outfitted with a new 5.4-liter V12 engine that produced 322 BHP and could be connected to a new five-speed automatic transmission.

While its design looks a little dated today, the model was celebrated for its distinctive wedge-shape, retractable headlights and with its frameless windows, the 8-Series was also the first BMW to retract its windows slightly when the doors were opened, and raise them again as the doors shut, improving refinement and silence inside the car. The model also had a variety of “new” features including an electrically adjustable steering column, an auto dimming rear-view mirror and a remote-control central locking system.

A lesser know fact, That a hugely powerful prototype with a very important job was finished in 1991: an 8-Series with a 550 BHP V12, and bespoke chassis technology to cope with that extra power. This car, co-developed by BMW’s M Division and BMW Technik was kept a secret for years, before BMW finally owned up and admitted that yes, it had tried to make an ‘M8′. However, it was never produced, and this M8 was instead used as a rolling test-bed for technology and innovation. Hence proving our point that this modern classic has probably had more influence in shaping BMW as we know it today than we can imagine.

What do you think of the BMW 8-Series? Should BMW make a modern successor to the car? Let us know in the comments section below.

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