Retro Cars Wiki

"Gran Turismo" is what European driving enthusiasts call cars like BMW's big coupe. This luxurious high-speed cruiser competed with other pricey GTs, such as the Jaguar XJS and S500 and S600 coupes.

The BMW 8-Series was released in 1990 as a 1991 model, supplanting the previous grand tourer, the 6-Series (1976-1989).

Year-to-year changes[]

1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997
N/A 840Ci
N/A 850CSi N/A


In the early '90s, only one model was available within the BMW 8-Series -- the 850i. It was used to accelerate from 0 to 60 in less than 7 seconds, cruise at a computer-limited 155 mph and turn a corner at nearly 1 g. But it also had all the comfort of a big luxury sedan, plus all the style of a sleek sport coupe. And there was even a back seat (although rear-seat legroom was almost nonexistent in this 2+2 coupe). Launched originally with a 296 hp 5.0L V12, with the option of a 6-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.


The 850i was renamed the 850Ci.


BMW's 8-series was essentially a short-wheelbase 7-series fitted with sleek coupe bodywork. The new base car, known as the 840Ci, used the same 282-hp V8 as the 740i; the 850Ci used the 296-hp V12 with its locomotive-like 332 ft.-lb. of torque. The limited-edition 850CSi, a hot-rodded version developed by BMW's motorsports department, came with a 5.6-liter version of the V12 that produced 372 hp and more than 406 ft.-lb. of torque. A 6-speed manual gearbox, wide low-profile tires on 17-in. wheels and a tightened-up suspension made this one of the best-performing sport coupes ever built.

The 8-series offered such standard features as leather upholstery, automatic climate control, power everything and a computerized memory for the driver's seat, steering wheel and mirrors. Standard, too, is more performance and status than normal folks can stand.


The 840Ci, which was mostly unchanged, went on sale first in late 1994. The 850Ci was upgraded to a 5.4L V12 with 322 horsepower and 361 ft.-lb. of torque. This trim level, along with the 850CSi, were distrubted to dealerships in February 1995.


For 1996, there were two 8-series models. The 840Ci used the same new 4.4-liter V8 as the 740i sedan. The 850Ci shared the 5.4-liter V12 of the 750iL sedan. The limited-production 850CSi, which offered an extra 100 horsepower plus a lot of other go-fast features, was dropped after only two years of production. But for most buyers, the 850Ci already offered more than enough performance at a reasonable cost.

Both models came standard with BMW's fuel-miser 5-speed automatic transmission. The 8-series offered such standard features as a 2+2 back seat, leather upholstery, automatic climate control and computerized memory for the power driver’s seat, steering wheel and mirror positions. New for 1996 were BMW's Servotronic road-speed-sensitive power steering and its fourth-generation Electronic Damping Control suspension, the latter standard on the 850Ci. Also new this year was a touch of tradition -- bird's-eye maple trim on the interior of the 840Ci.

Standard safety features on the 8-series included dual airbags and an impact sensor that would automatically unlock the doors and switches on the interior lights and hazard flashers in the event of a serious accident. Luxury amenities covered heated mirrors and driver's door lock, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel for easier entry and exit, 10-way adjustable driver's seat and 8-way adjustable passenger's seat.

This was the last model year for the 850CSi. The first engine size to go on sale was the 850Ci in December 1995, followed by the 840Ci in early 1996. In 1996 the 840Ci was updated with the new 4.4L M62 V8 engine producing the same 282 horsepower, but 15 lb-ft more torque (310 vs. 295).


After seven years of production, BMW discontinued the 8-Series. A replacement for this car was on hiatus until 2003.

Retail prices[]

Model year(s) Engine size List price Destination charge Effective date
1991 5.0L $73,600 N/A February 10, 1991
1992 5.0L $78,500 N/A March 1, 1992
1993 5.0L $83,400 N/A December 1, 1992
1994 4.0L $68,100 $450 Q1 1994
1994 5.0L $85,500 N/A Q1 1994
1994 5.6L $98,500 N/A Q1 1994
1995 4.0L $69,900 $470 October 1994
1995 5.4L $88,050 N/A March 2, 1995
1995 5.6L $100,950 N/A March 2, 1995
1995 4.0L $72,000 $570 May 22, 1995
1995 5.4L $91,000 N/A May 22, 1995
1996 4.4L $74,400 $570 Q1 1996
1996 5.4L $93,360 N/A Q1 1996
1996 5.6L $102,950 N/A Q1 1996
1997 4.4L $81,500 $570 August, 1997
1997 5.4L $94,700 N/A September 19, 1996


Video Clips[]


BMW 850Ci 2DR Coupe