• Look Back at the Classic , 1990 - 1999 BMW 850i V-12

How good is it compared to modern standards?

BMW has just now started rolling out its all-new large coupe model, the 8-Series, a car that revives the model designation of an older two-door that made many enthusiasts gasp in awe back in the early 1990s. The first 8-Series, known as the E31, built between 1990 and 1999, was a real looker, it had strong engines offerings, and an upmarket interior different to that of other BMWs of the time. Yet, somehow, it never gained full cult following status.

The Original 8 Series

Sure, it has dedicated fans who will defend it to the death, but the simple fact is it was one of the least reliable BMWs ever and it never really drove in as sporty manner as you’d have expected it to just by looking at it It was really more of a plush GT than a harsh corner carver. It was a car that wasn’t necessarily ruined if it had an automatic gearbox, although the manual is obviously the enthusiast’s only choice - the joy of driving a large coupe with a manual hooked up to a big V-8 or V-12 engine is hard to describe, and the old 8-Series certainly delivers that thrill.

Now that BMW has launched a new 8er, some attention has also been diverted towards the old model. Several videos about it have been made over the last year, since we presume people just wanted to be reminded of what the old car was like in order to gauge the new one against it. And, it looks like while the new model is sharper and far sportier to drive (as is the norm nowadays), it’s still not a pure sports car by current standards. So, it’s still intended to be more of a comfy coupe that can be driven quickly around some bends, but it may still encourage you to slow down and just enjoy being surrounded by its amazing interior.

The old car had a great interior too. It was sportier and more angled towards the driver than other period BMWs and, if you didn’t go for the black plastic on black leather color option (which made it look a bit drab), you were really treated to a proper 90s luxury interior feel.

Under the hood, BMW offered either a V-8 in the 840i or a V-12 in the 850i. Neither made very much power for their displacement compared to what modern cars can muster, yet at the time, their horsepower ratings of 286 or 300 metric horsepower, respectively, were considered adequate. Of course, the later 850CSi had 381 metric horsepower, and it was also the only E31 to ever be factory fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox.

Overall it’s definitely still a great looking car and one that is surely getting more attention now that the all-new model is out and turning heads, just like it did back in the day. But for the complete picture on the old E31 8-Series, check out the selection of videos we’ve gathered here that may even tell you things you rather hadn’t known about it...

Further Reading

2019 BMW 8 Series Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW 8 Series.

2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible.

1989 - 1999 BMW 8-series
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Read our full review on the original 1998-1999 BMW 8 Series.

2019 BMW 8 Series High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the BMW 8 Series Concept Coupe.

Andrei Nedelea
Andrei Nedelea
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The Restoration Of This Forgotten, BMW E31 850i Will Make You Feel Warm and Fuzzy Inside

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