BMW 8 Series (E31). The Ferrari Killer

The 8 Series E31 was introduced in 1989 to replace the 6 Series which had been in production from 1976 to 1989, and was already an obsolete model, and sales were declining. It was not intended to be a replacement for the 6 Series, as it was intended to appeal to a more exclusive audience.

The only model available at its commercial launch was an 850i, equipped with a 12-cylinder engine delivering 300 HP, but costing more than twice as much as the 6-series it was to replace, so sales of the car looked difficult from BMW’s own point of view. So why did BMW decide to build this sports car? The answer lay in the competition; Mercedes had the spectacular 500SL on the market, and BMW needed a competitor so as not to lose its prestige as a sports and luxury car brand. BMW worked on a prototype M8 equipped with a 6-litre 550 hp V12 engine, which was intended to compete with cars with power outputs in excess of 500 hp, and was therefore known internally as the “Ferrari Killer”. But this prototype, like the 8 Series cabrio, unfortunately for supercar enthusiasts, was never produced.

Despite its great potential, the market turned its back on the 8 Series, the price was too high for the time and its market equivalents hurt it badly, so that only 30,621 units were ever produced.

BMW 8 Series petrol engines
 830i840i840Ci850i/Ci850Ci850 CSi
Manufacturing period19921993-19961995-19991989-19941994-19991992-1996
Engine identificationM60 B30M60 B40M62 B44M70 B50M73 B54S70 B56

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Photo: ©BMW Group