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8 Series background

Discussion in 'E31 (1991-1997)' started by Bill Howard, Dec 7, 2007.

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    Bill Howard

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    Background: Built in low-quantites (30,000 total), the 8 Series may be more popular in death than in life. The car represents classic BMW styling that looks good heading into the 20th anniversary of its inception. When it first came out and through much of its early existence, the E31 was criticized for being heavy, complex, and not a spirited performer on par with the 6 Series that many but not all consider to be the predecessor model. Now, it's a popular collector's car. While repairs and parts can be costly (a power seat adjuster obtained through BMW can be $1,500-plus), an active support network makes it possible for owners to keep the 8 Series models running.

    The 8 Series was produced from 1989 through 1999, although its U.S. stay was much shorter. Originally produced as a 5.0-liter V12 and called the 850i (later 850Ci), it was followed by a less costly and less complex 4.0-liter and 4.4-liter V8, the 840i and 840Ci.

    Total worldwide production was reported by BMW AG as 30,621, three-quarters of them V12s. U.S. sales, from 1989-1997, were 7,232.

    In addition to this forum, established sites in the U.S. for 8 Series discussions include www.8coupe.com and www.8-Fest.com. They're good sources of information if you're thinking about buying and want to know what you're getting in to. The 8-Fest group holds celebrations on both the East Coast (see http://www.bmwcca.org/node/7203) and West Coast (see http://www.bmwcca.org/node/7289) and is gearing up for an 08-08-08 celebration in August 2008. A 20th anniversary celebration is planned for 2009 in Germany.

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    Thanks Bill and the rest of the staff for

    a great new site. Really looking forward to the forums!! Good start on the 8 series also. One of my favorites of course! ~:)

    Pete540i guest

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    Love it, Want More of it!

    I love the looks of the 8-series. I'm currently in the market for a 1997 840Ci. Anyone know of a good one for sale? Also, I wish BMW would great looking cars like this that are lighter and more fuel efficient today? Today's cars just don't have the pop that the 8-series has. Don't get me wrong - the car are nice looking but they don't have the wow-factor, at least not for me. Happy motoring.
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    I can't resist adding a footnote to Bill Howard's excellent introduction to the 8 series based on my experience with this great car.

    The original 850i, with the 300 hp V12 engine, 6-speed manual gearbox and beautiful coupe bodywork, was an exciting prospect when it was introduced. But many enthusiasts (and enthusiast magazine writers) panned the excessive weight, high final drive ratio and compliant suspension. Of course, all of those so-called faults were actually positive benefits for cruising the autobahn at 150mph, where a light car with "sporty" handling would be a terrifying, white-knuckle driving experience.

    In America, the car's autobahn personality does somewhat detract from the joy of driving at low speeds around town (this car truly feels better the faster it goes!) The good news is that this car can be transformed into a great American highway cruiser with two relatively straightforward modifications:
    The original open differential can be changed to a lower, limited-slip unit with parts from an E32 7 series. For the manual transmission cars, changing from the stock 2.65 to a 3.15 LS final drive really perks up the acceleration and makes 6th gear usable on U.S. highways.
    The handling can be improved with bigger anti-sway bars. Although these are not easy to obtain (fitment issues arise between different models, and there are no third party vendors at this time), if you can get your hands on a set, you will find the car's turn-in and cornering power greatly improved over stock.
    Of course, these modifications are already done on the rare and desirable 850CSi model (along with a big jump in horsepower!).

    In my opinion, the above changes remove all objections about this car's performance. I've had the 8 series on the track, and it performs just as well as any BMW of similar power to weight ratio. If BMW had "Americanized" the N.A. versions as described above, perhaps the E31 would have enjoyed more sales in this country? We will never know, but I hope that the enthusiasts who are finally collecting these underappreciated models will continue to care for them for a long time. It seems that BMW is about to resurrect the 8 series based upon the CS concept car. Is America ready for another big, gas-thirsty and expensive coupe at the top of the model line-up? As Yogi said, "it's déjà-vu all over again."

    (My thanks to Greg K., whose web-site documentation about E31 differential and sway-bar mods tipped me over the fence into buying a used 8 series. Acknowledgements are due for his past contributions - no personal posts, please.)
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    November 4, 2008:
    I just learned that BMW has cancelled the planned second generation 8 series (based on the CS concept car) ...
    I guess it is possible to learn from history ...

    Monique guest

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    I have an 840 ci

    Hi there,
    Just saw your post and wanted to answer you back with....I have an 840ci for sale if you are interested look at my posting. You can reach me at: 916-390-7337

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