Many car models don’t make it past a few years of production or even out of the concept phase so the fact that the BMW 8 series production run was a solid 10 years is a feat worth mentioning. The 8 series just turned 25 years old, and the BMW world headquarters rang in its quarter century milestone in style.
The Unique Styling and BMW Engine of the 8 Series
When the BMW 8 Series was introduced in 1989 it was certainly something people hadn’t seen before. The then modern, angular lines of the coupe attracted car enthusiasts and it became an instant hit. Despite a recession and the Gulf War the 8 is the best selling V-12 coupe to ever come out of Europe.
The car was nicknamed the “Great 8” and became the flagship model for BMW during the 90s. Ultimately four different production models were made: 840Ci, 850i, 850Ci and 850Si. They had either V-8 or V-12 motors with up to 380 horsepower and topped out at a respectable 155 miles per hour.
One of the most distinct BMW parts on the 8 models was the flip up headlights. They were a novelty back in the day, though they now show the vehicle’s age. Having the lights flip down during the day helped the car to maintain a streamlined appearance. But the signature elongated, low front was designed for more than looks, it also reduced drag.
The BMW gear in the interior was just as impressive as the exterior. The 8 series was the first time a car incorporated the safety strap into the seat so that there was no need for a B-pillar. This ultimately became a standard in many of BMW’s modern day coupes. It also had a digital display in the dash, steering column that could be electronically adjusted and climate control.
The Ultimate 8 was a one-of-a-kind prototype that featured an extremely beefy BMW engine capable of producing 550 horsepower. That engine later became the basis for the McLaren 1.
At the BMW world headquarters in Munich numerous BMW clubs got together for a weekend event to show off 120 8 series models. Given that only 30,621 cars were made this was a spectacular turn out. The famed Ultimate 8 prototype also made an appearance at the celebration. The fête included a tour of the BMW plant, a visit to the BMW Museum and a photo shoot. In total there were 260 guests from 20 countries at the birthday party.
BMW USA markets are flush with the new models, but we’ll likely see few of these BMW 8 series cars today given the relatively exclusive production.