There's been a lot of talk about the BMW M8, the M division's answer to the Mercedes S63 Coupe and Cabriolet, a car large enough to be considered a medium sized house but with a 4 l., twin-turbocharged V8 that has the ability to demolish one if required, with it's brutal 603 hp and 900 Nm of torque. BMW thinks it can improve on the recipe and that is definitely interesting, considering that the very same company already had one of these super-coupes lying around in one of its secret garages in Munich since 1990. The name of that beast, you guessed it. It was the BMW M8, considered by some to be the greatest M car ever. There is only a single prototype and there are no actual reviews of it, so for such a claim to be around it means that the car is very serious.
Let's start with the exterior. While it might look like an ordinary 8 Series that's had a one night stand with a riced out Honda Civic at first, looking more closely tells us a different story. The first difference one can spot with the standard 8 Series is the bodykit, and more specifically the vents on the rear wings, designed to cool both the brakes and the rear differential, which will seem like a smart idea once we reach the engine. Also different from the rest of the 8 Series lineup are the 17 inch, carbon-fiber-overlayed, wheels that come with truly wide tires, capable of taming all of the M8's sheer power.
It's safe to say that the folks that built the M8 had the two rules of supercar-making in mind. Make the car as light as possible and as fast as possible, and they succeeded at doing both. First of all, while the standard 8er wasn't exactly the lightest car around, with its many extras and comfortable leather seats, the M8 is a different animal. Many of its body panels, like the doors, bonnet and arches are made from carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, or CFRP, while the window frames were made from Plexiglas. The M chaps even fitted the car with lighter standard headlights than the trademark pop-ups of the normal 8er, both to save weight and to make room for the air filter boxes of the QM2-sized engine. Which brings us on to the engine itself.
As far as the engine is concerned there is a little bit of controversy. Some say that the 6.1 l. V12 that sits in the M8's engine bay is in fact the engine that found its way in the historic McLaren F1, while others believe that while the two engines were developed at the same time and by the same people, they're not the same but might share some basic bits. What we do know for sure though, is the fact that it was supposed to develop 550 hp, which is 170 hp more than the fastest 8 series we actually got, the 850 CSi. That would be possible from the use of carbon fiber intake manifolds and a 6-speed Gertrag manual transmission. While no official test was ever performed (or found out) the M8 could have knocked on the F40's door with a top speed of 198 mph, which is mind bending once you realize that the M8 was once a luxury Grand Tourer, designed to drive across countries with the least amount of effort, and not to attack race tracks and put supercars to shame.
As far as the interior is concerned, forget your electrically adjustable, heated leather seats. Instead you get race spec bucket seats with a full racing harness which meant that only one other person could have enjoyed the M8 with you, since the rear seats are completely removed, all in the name of simplicity and lightness. In fact, lightness is the key word to describe the M8's interior. Everything is functional and nothing is wasted. For example, instead of leather, the entire interior is lined with suede and in place of a radio you get VDO pressure gauges. Wanted climate control? Sorry, my friend but all you get is simple air-conditioning, which also means that compared to the F40, which was as well equipped as a Turkish prison, the M8 would have been more capable as an actual car, even though the point of it wouldn't exactly be to drive it around the shops.
So what happened and the M8 never went into production? Despite the car being production-ready, according to BMW, there would have been no market to actually sell it, and if they had put it into production, it would have been a very limited one with each example costing a little more than an arm and a leg. So while it makes economic sense, you have to both admire the effort of the mad scientists from Munich but to also wonder what the M8 would have been against the titans of its era. We may never know, but we can always imagine.
So what do you think of the M8? Did BMW make a smart move by not producing it or did we lose a legend?