The first-generation BMW 8 Series (E31) was anything but a regular car and it’s still revered by those who had the chance to drive or own one.
This particular 1991 850i is a car that has seen extensive use yet hasn’t skipped a beat despite the complexity of its 5.0-liter V12 engine. While in 2018 the revived 8 Series features a twin-turbocharged V8 at the top of the lineup, back in the 1990s the V8 was only the entry-level powertrain for BMW’s luxurious grand tourer.
This particular 5.0-liter V12 model, for example, was a mid-range model and not the range-topper, as that honor belonged to the 850CSi.
Also watch: Was The 850CSi Really The Best BMW From The 90s?
As far as this classic is concerned, appearances can be deceiving. Although it looks like a mid-1980s racer, the 850i is a big, soft GT cruiser at heart. Sure, its V12 engine provided some serious performance back in the day, but what’s 296 horsepower (300 PS) nowadays?
Yes, that’s how much this naturally aspirated M70B50 motor produces, along with a peak torque of 332 lb-ft (450 Nm) at 4,100 rpm. That’s roughly what a VW Golf R makes in 2018. But one should never underestimate the 850i. While its main focus is cruising comfortably at high speeds, it can unleash its wild side when provoked.
As the reviewer says, 70 mph (112 km/h) is where the V12 engine wakes up, partly because of the long-gearing of the four-speed automatic transmission this particular car packs (a six-speed manual was also available). From 70 mph onward, the 850i turns into a beast that accelerates relentlessly until it hits the 155 mph (250 km/h) limiter.