The 850CSi, the closest thing we got to an M8 with pop-ups

24w ago


While all the attention now is at the new G15 BMW 8 series, let us look at the original 8 series, with an E number that actually begins with an E, the E31 8 series. More specifically, the top of the line 850CSi.

While BMW did make an M8 based on the E31 chassis, only one was made and is currently locked up in BMW's locker of rejected cars. So unfortunately for all those, including myself, who wanted an M8, our dreams were shattered by a simple marketing survey done by BMW. However, this did not mean we did not get a lean, mean V12 monster BMW.

Enter, the 850CSi. While the car did not feature an M badge, it did possess the same basic engine intended for the M8. A modified version of the M70 engine used in the 850i, this new engine was so much more capable, that it received a new designation, the S70 engine. In fact, the M8 was supposed to produce 550bhp from the S70 in order to compete with the likes of Italian supercars like Ferrari.

While the 550bhp M8 dream never happened, we still got a mellowed down 380bhp version of the S70 engine, exclusive to the 850CSi. Another fun fact; while most people believe that this is the same engine used in the legendary McLaren F1, it is not 100% true. While the S70 engine used in the F1 was based on the same basic layout, it was actually a newly developed engine called the S70/2. In fact, the S70 layout even went on to power BMW LeMans cars with the S70/3 variant. Although the layout is the same, the engines are completely different!

Another fun fact; while the 850CSi was never considered to be a "real" M car, the 850CSi featured a lot of M badging and M accessories on its interior.

Unfortunately I could not just open up panels to take pictures of the M badges

In fact, even its chassis number is in the same format as other BMW M cars rather than the format used in regular BMW's. In my opinion, this is one of the best cars BMW has ever made and I would definitely prefer this over its main rival, the Mercedes SL. While prices on these 90's German GT cars have dropped in recent years, the 850CSi has stayed quite expensive for a near 30 year old (Jesus, I do not want to think about that) car.

One reason for this is primarily due to its rarity. With only 1,510 made, the CSi is considerably rare. Couple that with its coveted engine means prices will surely stay high in the future. In fact, this is my first time seeing a CSi. Although I have seen the rarer 850Ci (1,218 produced) more, the 850CSi and its slight M DNA just makes it so much more lovely in my mind.

What do you think of the BMW 850CSi? Do you like the 8 series? Are you excited for the new 8 series? Did you learn something new? Would you like an E31 M8? Comment your thoughts below, and as always, thanks for reading!