BMW 8-Series

From 1989 to 1999, BMW built over 30,000 8 Series cars that were sold globally. Development and construction of the 8 Series began in 1986, and while many thought it was a successor to the E24 6 Series, the 8 Series was actually developed as a completely new class of car. With the 8 Series, BMW aims at a completely different market than the 6 Series. As such, it comes with a significantly higher price tag than the 6 Series, but also much better performance.

More on the BMW 8-Series
BMW 8 Series Origins

BMW launched the 8 Series cars in the grand tourer (GT) class, as they are designed as high-end, high-performance, luxury cars that can be driven for long periods of time. All have a front engine and rear-wheel drive layout. With the Z1, the 8 Series cars were the first BMWs to have a multi-link rear axle installed.

With the recession of the early 1990s, the sales of the BMW 8 Series decreased significantly. The Gulf War and price increases for fuel further hampered sales of this high-end car. As a result, BMW halted sales in North America in 1997 and terminated sales in the European market along with production of the car in 1999.

About the BMW 8 Series

There were several different models of the 8 Series, but all had two-door, 2+2 coupe designs in keeping with the grand tourer designation. The BMW 8 Series contained either a V-8 or V-12 engine, and they came with either a four-speed automatic, five-speed automatic, or six-speed manual transmission (depending on the model). In fact, the 8 Series reigned as the first road car with a V-12 engine and a six-speed transmission. BMW spent almost $1 billion on the development of this car, and while the body was significantly lighter, the car weighed much more than other models due to its larger engine and the addition of several luxury features.

BMW 8 Series Evolution

The BMW 850CSi was a top-of-the-line sport tourer that contains the same engine as the 850Ci. However, it had been so significantly tuned that BMW assigned it a new engine code. The 850CSi took over the spot that had initially been planned for the M8, and the engine was tuned by the M division. Modifications to the engine included an increased capacity to a 5.6-liter engine and an increased power to 375 horsepower. The six-speed manual transmission was the only available transmission, and it included style changes to make it more aerodynamic than the 850Ci. Production of the BMW 850CSi was completed in 1997 when the engine could not be modified to meet new emission regulations.

In 1992, BMW began production of the 840Ci, which was launched in 1993 globally and in 1994 in the North American market. Two different engine packages were available: the four-liter engine was produced from 1993 until 1995, and in mid-1995, the engine was upgraded to a 4.4-liter that provides more torque and better gas mileage. Although the 4.4-liter engine offered some improvements, it did not affect overall power. In North America, the BMW 840Ci only came with a five-speed automatic transmission, whereas BMW offered a six-speed manual transmission as an option in Europe. The only way to tell the difference between the V-8 models of the 8 Series and the V-12 versions is that the quad exhausts are round on V-8 engine cars and square on V-12 engine models.

BMW 8 Series Features

The first model to be launched in 1990 was the BMW 850i. It came equipped with a five-liter V-12 engine and either a four-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual transmission. The BMW 850i became available in North America in 1991. This initial version of the BMW 8 Series remained in production until 1994, when the 850CSi was launched in North America and BMW changed the name of the 850i to the 850Ci. Some believe that BMW includes the C in the 850i name to indicate its coupe design, just as the company does with the 3 Series vehicles. At the time of the change, BMW installed a new engine in the 850i cars.

In 1990, BMW also produced a single prototype of the M8. This BMW tried to compete with Ferrari, but the project was canceled when BMW decided that there was no market for the car. Reportedly, the factory built one prototype, but it was not road worthy. At the time, rumors circulated about whether BMW had even produced the car, and it was only in July 2010 that the company actually unveiled it for the first time at the BMW museum in Munich.

Select a BMW 8-Series Year

1997 BMW 8-Series

Coupe, Sports

The 1997 BMW 8-Series is fully loaded with plenty of gadgets and luxury items.

1996 BMW 8-Series

Coupe, Sports

The 1996 BMW 8 Series classifies as a two-door coupe made in the classic grand tourer tradition.

1995 BMW 8-Series

Coupe, Sports

The 1995 BMW 8-Series is the highest-end option within the automaker's flagship line.