The 8 Series; innovative, stylish, luxurious, and the BMW flagship of the 90s. A true legend for all BMW enthusiasts, and we got our hands on one for the day to see what all the fuss is about.
Produced between 1989 and 1999, and initially launching with a 12 cylinder 5 litre power plant, the 8 Series cost upwards of £60,000, or close to £100,000 in today’s money. Reception to the 850i in the early 90s was tepid, with many potential buyers feeling they could get a lot more for their money than what this bulky Grand Tourer was offering. Although equipped with a huge V12 giving it 295 horsepower, it also had to lug 2 tonnes of German metal off the line, giving it a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds and a top speed limited to 155MPH. BMW listened, and in 1992 they rejuvenated their line-up, adding the 850CSI and the 840CI. The CSI came armed with an upgraded 5.6 litre V12 and 375 horsepower, whilst the 840 was equipped with a 4 litre V8 producing 282 horsepower, with the later models being quicker to 60 than the early 850s. No surprise then that both of these cars proved to be just what the market needed.
We got our hands on this fantastic 840, first registered in 1996 and finished in Bright Red, one of the most striking features of this car. It has a respectable 76,000 miles on the clock, and has been kept garaged, but regularly driven, for the last 15 years.
Sliding into the cockpit, surrounded by a wealth of buttons, it was clear to see why this car was considered revolutionary in the nineties. A single cassette-deck to mark the era, and an auto-box below with economy, snow, and sport modes. You can guess which one it stayed in for our drive. The throaty V8 came to life with a roar and we pulled away gingerly.
Although wide, it cruised through town with ease, the automatic transmission doing all the hard work between the sets of lights. Cruising at low speeds was a joy, and the striking looks gained a lot of attention from passers-by. Once we got it out into the countryside however, it was a different beast. With the slightest touch of the accelerator we dropped down a gear and it was ready to go, anticipating our next move. We appreciate this is a weighty car, but put your foot to the floor and you wouldn’t know it, it absolutely takes off. The handling through the corners was sublime despite its size, whilst the engine noise and exhaust note were on point throughout.
It took the A-roads in its stride with the advanced aerodynamic features minimising cabin noise, and even at motorway speeds in sport mode it was always raring to go. Cruising back towards the garage we took a look at the on-board computer which had many of the toys and gadgets you’d expect from today’s executive saloons. Fuel range, temperature, MPG (best to avoid checking that one), a CD changer and more. Even today this car could easily serve as an everyday long distance cruiser, but we’d hate to see that mileage add up!
Take a look at the video below from our day with the 8 Series.
We absolutely loved our day with the 840, and were gutted to have to return the keys back to the grateful owner, but onto today. Why would we consider this Bavarian beast as a potential investment?
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