The BMW 8 Series was a brand new value proposition that was focused on a different market entirely from the previous BMW 6 Series. Costing around $100,000, production on the 8 Series began in 1984 and ended in 1999 with a total of 30,261 produced. Showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show in '89, the 8 Series was built to compete with the upcoming Mercedes SL.
In 1997, BMW pulled the 8 Series out of the North American market due to the Persian Gulf War and its effects on the energy price spikes. Production continued in Europe until 1999.
Introduced in 1989, the 850i was the original model with the 5-liter M70B50 engine that produced 300 bhp. The 850i was available with either a 6-speed gearbox or a 4-speed automatic, and was quite possibly the most advanced car available at the time.
In 1994, for a period of nine months, both the M70 and M73 engined vehicles were installed with the new M73B54 engine, both named the 850Ci. The M70 kept the same transmission options from the 850i. The M73 engine acquired a new 5-speed automatic. The power output soured to 326 bhp, while the capacity of the M73 was increased to 5.4 liters and the compression ratio continued to climb.
Referred to at times as an M8, the new top-of-the-range sports tourer, the 850CSi utilized the same engine as the 850i. Believing that it needed a new engine code, it was modified to include a capacity hike to 5.6 liters and an increase in power up to 380 bhp. An authentic M-car, the 850CSi was produced from August of 1992 until October of 1996, with only a total of 1510 units ever reaching production. From January of 1997 on, stricter emission guidelines were set which ended the development of the 850CSi.
Many new modifications and updates were introduced along with this new model. These included stiffer springs and dampers, wider wheels, and a new modified suspension with reduced ride height, and the options of forged alloys. To enhance aerodynamic performance, the front and rear bumpers were modified accordingly. The old square stainless steel exhaust pipes were replaced with four round pipers. Additional modifications included electro hydraulically operated steering rear axle, called AHK. The only transmission option was the 6-speed manual gearbox.
Production on the BMW ended in late 1996 due to higher emission regulations that were too strict for the S70 engine.By Jessica Donaldson