When BMW collaborated with Pininfarina to create the super-sexy and ultra-luxurious Gran Lusso Coupe, we were all in awe of its massive beauty. At the same time, however, we appear to have been blinded, as reports are emerging that BMW ’s claim that this is a one-off model may be a smokescreen to protect Bimmer’s real motive behind it.
A source within BMW told the folks at Automotive News that there is more to the 2013 Gran Lusso Coupe than meets the eye. This is actually the conceptual version of an anticipated return of the 8 Series – a model that Bimmer dropped from the U.S. lineup in 1997 and altogether in 1999.
With Mercedes offering one of the few full-size luxury coupes – the CL-Class – and the Maserati GranTurismo being the only other feasible option, BMW would be crazy not to hop back into this growing segment.
Unfortunately, even the source that leaked the information is unsure if the 8 Series will make it back, but the insider made it clear that it is a design study that the Bavarian automaker is using to gauge interest in the model.
Click past the jump to read more about the 8 Series
In 1991, the 8 Series made its debut in the U.S. with the 850i mode, which replaced the outgoing 635CSi. Its coupe design and pop-up headlights were both revolutionary and shocking in the luxury-car realm. Under its hood was a 5.0-liter V-12 engine that could only muster up 296 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, while slurping down 11 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. Short of its design, there was little about the 850i that impressed BMW enthusiasts.
In 1992, the 8 Series carried over with the exception of a shift interlock on automatic models and a retuned Electronic Damping System.
1993 brought a name change, as the 850i became the 850Ci. Also changed was a new standard passenger-side airbag and upgraded interior materials for a more modern look and feel.
The 1994 model year was the biggest change to date, as two new models debuted: the 840Ci and the 850CSi. The 840Ci carried a 4.0-liter V-8 engine with 282 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, plus 13 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. The 850CSi added a new 5.6-liter V-12 engine with 372 horsepower and 402 pound-feet of torque, sport suspension and included a standard six-speed manual transmission. As expected, the 850Ci carried over without any changes.
With the exception of a 2 mpg boost on the highway, the 840Ci carried over from the previous model year. The 850Ci increased its engine displacement to a 5.4-liter V-12 that pumped out 322 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque, plus a bump to 12 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. The 850CSi carried over unchanged.
The 840Ci and 850Ci both gained speed-sensitive steering in 1994, and the 840Ci also gained a Steptronic automatic transmission and a bird-eye maple trim. Also changed on the 840i was a bump to a 4.4-liter V-8, which increased torque to 310 pound-feet. The 850CSi remained unchanged.
For 1997 – the final year for the 8 Series in The States – Bimmer dropped the 850CSi because of emission regulations. The 840Ci and 850Ci both remained unchanged.