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      06-03-2014, 10:09 AM   #1

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Lightbulb BMW 8 Series Turns 25. Owners Celebrate at the Welt

BMW 8 Series Turns 25. Owners Celebrate at the Welt

Timelessly alluring: 25 years of the BMW 8 Series.

June 3, 2014

It was streets ahead of its time at launch and maintains an ageless glow to this day, yet a glance at the calendar reveals the disarming truth: 25 years have passed since the BMW 8 Series was presented to the world at large for the first time. The car’s international fan community duly came together last weekend at its Bavarian birthplace to celebrate the anniversary, with events including a spectacular parade of 120 cars at the BMW Group headquarters highlighting their collective adoration of the brand’s exclusive luxury Coupe.

The event was a team effort fronted by the BMW 8 Series club 8er.org (The international 8 Series community) and ClubE31 Worldwide Owners Group e.V. with support from the BMW Club International Office. The 260 participants from 20 countries began proceedings with a tour of BMW Plant Dingolfing, where the BMW 8 Series was produced from 1989 through to 1999. The second highlight of the weekend was the gathering of club members and their cars at the BMW Museum and BMW “four-cylinder” head office in Munich for a combined photo shoot. The BMW 8 Series models fanned out in formation according to paintwork shade, creating an imposing image – and an added attraction for visitors to the BMW Museum and adjacent BMW Welt.

ClubE31 Worldwide Owners Group e.V. brings together more than 2,000 owners and fans of the BMW 8 Series from around the world. The club’s activities include regular national and international meetings and a lively experience-sharing forum. Here, members can find assistance in procuring replacement parts and expertise to help them with the upkeep and care of their cars. The meeting in Dingolfing and Munich attracted enthusiasts from the USA, Iceland and New Zealand, among other countries. Two club representations from Spain, meanwhile, decided to take their cars on a particularly epic journey to celebrate the BMW 8 Series anniversary, driving them more than 1,800 kilometres (approx. 1,120 miles) and almost 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) respectively to Bavaria for the event.

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The BMW 8 Series stands out as a landmark model in a BMW Coupe lineage that dates back to the 1930s. A clean-sheet design, the car tagged “E31” by its maker launched its challenge to the world’s finest sports coupes with a design oozing avant-garde elegance, arresting performance attributes, an exceptional wealth of innovations and a sprinkling of exclusive luxury. The BMW 850i presented at the 1989 International Motor Show in Frankfurt represented a demonstration of the Munich-based carmaker’s development expertise, revealing not only a cutting-edge new design line but also an unparalleled array of technological details making their automotive debuts. The design of the wedge-shaped body – headlined most strikingly by a long, swooping bonnet (housing retractable headlights), smooth lines, the absence of B-pillars and a steeply cut rear end – showcased the dynamics and grace of the new coupe with equal Úlan.

The BMW 850i, moreover, followed the BMW 750i luxury Sedan introduced two years earlier as the second post-war German car to be powered by a 12-cylinder engine. The 5.0-litre unit developed 220 kW/300 hp and peak torque of 450 Newton metres (332 lb-ft) to propel the 1,790 kg 2+2-seater from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.8 seconds.

Channelling the engine’s power to the rear wheels was either a six-speed manual gearbox specially developed for the BMW 850i or a four-speed automatic, while its pioneering integral rear axle with five-link suspension was celebrating its premiere in the luxury Coupe. Automatic Stability Control plus Traction (ASC+T), speed-sensitive power steering and the Electronic Damper Control (EDC) system introduced as an option in spring 1990 were among the other details that helped give the BMW 8 Series its distinctive identity as a driving machine. The motoring press heralded the BMW 850i as a “coupe of velvet and silk” and the “perfect symbiosis of power and comfort”. After its first road test in the car, German car magazine “auto, motor und sport” wrote: “BMW has given the 850i all the high-tech weaponry it needs to take top spot.” And turning its attentions to the chassis technology of the BMW 8 Series, “Auto Bild” magazine commented: “It needs to be experienced to be believed, preferably through high-speed corners on the motorway: bumps, expansion joints – shocks that are sure to trigger sudden jolts of adrenaline in other cars – leave the 850i driver totally unruffled.”

Among the other new features of the BMW 8 Series were the belt system integrated into the seats, an electrically adjustable steering column with memory function, an automatically dimming rear-view mirror, remote-control central locking and a high-performance onboard computer. A multiplex electrical system featured for the first time, with data transfer from several different systems via the same conduit enhancing reliability and reducing weight. Both the front and rear side windows of the luxury Coupe could be fully retracted. And, in another new addition, the front side windows were automatically lowered or raised when the doors were opened or closed, improving sealing and reducing wind noise as a result.

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A second version of the 12-cylinder engine was added to the range for model year 1993. With displacement increased to 5.6 litres, the engine imbued the flagship BMW 850 CSi model with 280 kW/381 hp and peak torque of 550 Newton metres (406 lb-ft). The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) could now be wrapped up in under six seconds. To take into account those elevated performance figures the BMW 850 CSi was also given a new driving dynamics system, including active rear axle kinematics. Here, the rear wheels respond to the car’s speed and steering angle by turning in the same direction to optimise directional stability through dynamically taken corners and sudden evasive manoeuvres. The electrohydraulic system in the BMW 8 Series was the precursor to the Integral Active Steering available for today’s BMW 7 Series, BMW 6 Series and BMW 5 Series.

With the launch of the BMW 850 CSi, the existing model was rechristened BMW 850 Ci and given myriad detail modifications. Standard equipment now included an airbag each for the driver and front passenger, infrared remote control and folding rear seat backrests. DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) was available as an option and the automatic gearbox was now equipped with adaptive control. Autumn 1994 witnessed a changing of the guard under the bonnet: the BMW 850 Ci was now powered by a 5.4-litre V12 engine with 240 kW/326 hp, which customers could choose to combine with a new five-speed automatic gearbox. The BMW 840 Ci joined the line-up in 1993. Its 4.0-litre V8 produced 210 kW/286 hp, providing an undeniably sporty entry point into the world of BMW luxury Coupes.

In 1995 the BMW 8 Series inspired British artist David Hockney to add his vision to the BMW Art Cars series. The BMW 850 CSi he created symbolised an artistic take on transparency. Hockney added flourishes such as stylised intake manifolds on the bonnet and silhouettes of the driver and steering column on the driver’s door, while the artist’s dachshund Stanley is painted onto the rear side panel as if he were a passenger in the rear.

A total of 30,621 examples of the BMW 8 Series were produced up to 1999, 24 of which were lavishly hand-built at BMW’s Rosslyn plant in South Africa. For tax reasons, assembling the cars there was more cost-efficient than importing the finished articles. More than two thirds of all the BMW 8 Series Coupes produced were 12-cylinder models, and only one in six were fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox. The top-of-the-line BMW 850 CSi accounted for 1,510 of the overall unit figure. The ultra-high-performance model was available exclusively with a manual gearbox, in keeping with its sporting character.

The tour of the Dingolfing plant also allowed the enthusiasts at the BMW 8 Series meeting to catch up with a spectacular prototype of the luxury Coupe. This one-off, high-performance variant of the BMW 8 Series was completed in 1991 and featured an all-new 12-cylinder engine developing around 550 hp, chassis technology tuned precisely to the power unit and specific body features with optimised airflow characteristics and aerodynamics. Co-developed by BMW Motorsport GmbH and BMW Technik GmbH, this super-sports car was employed as a test bed for technology and innovations. Its engine, for example, served as the basis for the V12 unit powering the legendary McLaren F1.

BMW 8 Series - 25th Birthday

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      06-03-2014, 11:02 AM   #2
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the b12
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      06-03-2014, 11:04 AM   #3

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      06-03-2014, 11:15 AM   #4
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Amazing. 25 years.

This car is what got me dreaming about BMW from the time I was in middle school.
ddk632 | David Khaykin | (The K* is Silent!)
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      06-03-2014, 11:30 AM   #5
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My dad had a black 840ci. I remember seeing it for the first time and my breath being taken away (I was really young). Such an awesome car!

My M3 is for sale here
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      06-03-2014, 11:30 AM   #6
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Still the best rear end
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      06-03-2014, 12:13 PM   #7

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My neighbours, I always stare at it. Awesome looking car (once upon a time a teenage poster dream).
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      06-03-2014, 12:19 PM   #8

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Always liked how these looked & the idea of a [near-]exotic BMW.
The V12 startup noise is phenomenal & the forbidden fruit, the M8 prototype, was an awesome creation.

Happy Birthday indeed
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      06-03-2014, 12:35 PM   #9

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Originally Posted by ddk632
Amazing. 25 years.

This car is what got me dreaming about BMW from the time I was in middle school.
And me.

I remembering reading an article about all the on-board tech, including something about the windows closing automatically over a certain speed (100mph maybe?). Anyway, I thought it was amazing.

Although it's not in the same league, I finally got a bit closer to this standard of performance & tech with my 430d
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      06-03-2014, 02:24 PM   #10

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If it is one BMW that Chris Harris needs to test, it would that one off M8.

(Aside from the one off e46 M3 wagon and the e60 M5 CSL)

One would think that BMW would have a 8 series readied and in the pipeline to celebrate the 25 anniversary of the first gen 8 series. Or would the i8 be considered the continuation of that line.
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      06-03-2014, 03:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by PrinceBarin View Post
And me.

I remembering reading an article about all the on-board tech, including something about the windows closing automatically over a certain speed (100mph maybe?). Anyway, I thought it was amazing.

Although it's not in the same league, I finally got a bit closer to this standard of performance & tech with my 430d
I confirm the thing about the windows is true. My old man used to have a black 850 - the first time I saw it I could not believe that he would get such a cool car. Was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time driving one. It was a brilliant car at the time.

The comment about the start up noise - so true.
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      06-03-2014, 03:57 PM   #12

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Time for a come back?
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      06-03-2014, 07:24 PM   #13
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Vintage Alpina FTMFW. - I love all of these old (euro-only) Alpinas, they are just incredible.

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      06-03-2014, 09:51 PM   #14
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Look at this yellow one ... wow
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      06-03-2014, 10:15 PM   #15
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Happy birthday E31! You don't look 25 years old!
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      06-04-2014, 09:37 AM   #16

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Classic indeed boys and girls.
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      06-04-2014, 09:45 AM   #17
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Fully agree this is an icon and it was a dream car for many of us. I just compared the current M6 to the 850i - and it's bigger and more powerful.

1996 850CSi - wheelbase: 105.7 in / length: 188 in / width: 73 in / Weight: 4354 lb / engine 5.6L V12 375HP
2014 M6 - wheelbase: 109.5 in / length: 192 in / width: 73 in / weight: 3770 lb / engine 5.0L V8 500HP
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      06-04-2014, 10:30 AM   #18
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Send a message via AIM to karim@velosdesignwerks
Happy 25. Instant classic and forever legendary.
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      06-04-2014, 01:40 PM   #19

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Thanks for sharing Jason

Timeless design, probably contributed to plausible amount of chiropractic neck adjustment visits over the years.
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      06-04-2014, 08:34 PM   #20

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a video from the e31 gang...

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      06-04-2014, 08:36 PM   #21
... can I get a 1M

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Classic car
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      06-07-2014, 01:12 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by clbmw
Time for a come back?

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