It has almost been 30 years since the BMW 8-Series was first introduced and while the new car is the one capturing headlines at the moment, the first-generation 8-Series remains extremely desirable, especially the manual gearbox models.
BMW never built an M8 variant of the first-generation 8-Series and instead, the range was topped out by the 850 CSi. This variant used an extensively modified (to the point that it got a new engine code – S70B56) version of the regular 850i’s naturally-aspirated V12, enlarged to 5.6-liters. It pumped out 375 hp (380PS) at 5,300 rpm and 406 lb-ft (550 Nm) of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Production of this near-M coupe was extremely limited, as just 1,510 units were ever built, with only 225 of those officially destined for the USA from 1993 to 1995. One of U.S.-spec 850 CSi was recently up for sale on eBay where it sold for $16,900.
The 850 CSi is a 1995 example and was located in Missouri. It was sold with a salvage title due to damage sustained to the front end but the engine appears to be in perfect working order and has covered 48,492 miles (78,000 km).
The listing stated that no frame damage has been done to the car, except for the frame horns. While it looks like it might be doable to repair this 8-Series and return it to the road, you have to wonder if it’s worth it. Regular E31 parts are often pricey and very hard to come by, so you can imagine the difficulty and costs associated with even rarer 850CSi-specific components.
On the other hand, being that only 225 cars were made for America, minus those that have been destroyed over the years, makes the 850CSi a highly collectible item with a matching price tag. A quick search on eBay showed zero examples of the 850CSi for sale, while on Autotrader, there’s only a single listing in the entire USA, a 1994 model with 130,839 miles for $65,000.
So while it may come with a salvage title, if it does not have structural damage, we think that this fairly-low mileage model could either net it’s new owner a good return upon resale, or get him into an otherwise, very expensive (and pretty difficult to find these days) classic, for a comparatively low entry price. Plus, it’s not like you won’t have to pour money into any E31 to get it into perfect condition, no matter how well it was treated from its previous owners. At least with this one, you’re buying it knowing that from the get go.