BMW 8-Series (1989 – 1999) Review

BMW 8-Series (1989 – 1999) At A Glance


+Distinctive super coupe with strong performance

-Bore liners can degrade on original 4.0-litre V8, V12 heavy on fuel

The BMW 850i was launched at the end of the 1980s, promising a high-technology and super-efficient push into the 1990s. It was powered by the new V12 that had first seen the light of day in the 7-Series, helping establish BMW at the top of the automotive tree. It was considerably more expensive - more gandiose - than the 6-Series, and was clearly aimed at a more well-heeled customer. In short, it was the ultimate continent coverer. If you could afford the petrol.

It was quick and effortless, and its sleek styling was a big departure from its last coupé, the 6-Series - in some ways echoing the Vauxhall Calibra's overt aerodynamics. However, sales were slow during the recession of the early-‘90s so BMW introduced lower-priced V8 versions under the Ci banner. However, when production ended in 1999, the company chose not to replace the 8-Series, deciding instead to abandon that sector of the market, and choosing to re-introduce the 6-Series three years down the line.

Ask Honest John

Could you suggest a relatively easy to maintain and economic to fix modern classic?

"Having sold my two classic Triumphs, I'm at the age where I'm having difficulty in doing full maintenance jobs but still appreciate driving and owning a classic car as my hobby. Is there a car that I could purchase that gives me the thrill of a "classic car feel" and turns heads but is (relatively) easy to maintain whilst, if needed, incur low(er) garage costs for those jobs I am unable to tackle? I have a car for everyday travel and not too keen on a Morgan due to its harsh ride, so could you another two-seater soft top? I have about £40,000 to spend."
It's going to be tricky to tick all these boxes. If you want something that turns heads, that normally means a premium model such as a Porsche. In which case, you'd be expected to have anything but the most basic oil and filter it serviced at a specialist. Plus, if you're after mod cons like power steering, air-con, decent stereo (and soundproofing) then you're looking at cars that are a bit more complicated. If you're after something that's easy to get in and out of and doesn't have harsh ride, then you may have to think outside the box. You could go for something traditional such as a Triumph Stag (assuming you want to keep it Triumph), which is still very much a classic two-seater with a great engine. Alternatively, look at 911 ownership for a bit of wow-factor, and a decent compromise between mod cons and specialist servicing... and don't discount the later Jaguar XJ-S. We know plenty of people who own Honda S2000s and are terrifically happy with them - stunning performance and reliability (see also Nissan 350Z). Sightly left of centre coupe options to consider - BMW 8-Series and Mazda RX-7 or RX-8 if you're feeling brave, Toyota Supra. We'd also have a look at hot hatches - cars like the Mk1 Golf GTi and Peugeot 205 GTI are excellent to drive, have reasonably mod cons, and can be maintained at home... they also have plenty of wow-factor. Perhaps something like a TVR Griffith would also suit you.
Answered by Keith Moody

Will an E31 BMW 850i become a collectable?

"Will an E31 BMW 850i become a collectable? Is it a good investment to buy now? "
Fabulous cruisers. Things got a bit more interesting when the manual gearbox and M-technic suspension were offered, but it perhaps never quite made it to the status of a proper driver's car. The CSi version is already in demand, with last year seeing some very high prices for them. This could be driven perhaps by BMW re-launching model and/or younger buyers coming to market. We'd always advocate buying a car because you like it - rather than as an investment.
Answered by Keith Moody

Where can I get a 16-inch space saver wheel for my BMW 850 CSi?

"I'm trying to find a 16-inch space saver tyre and wheel that will get my BMW 850 CSi home in an emergency. I want to remove the original heavy full-size spare from the boot, and reduce the weight in the car. Any ideas?"
Sorry, I don't know. Try a German Car specialist. Mercedes-Benz used to supply some quite nice space savers for the S-Class. No idea if they will fit, but at least it's an angle.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a BMW 8-Series (1989 – 1999) cost?