Design of the 8 Series began in 1986, with construction starting in the same year. The 8 Series debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in early September 1989. The 8 Series was designed to move beyond the market of the original 6 Series. The 8 Series however had substantially improved performance, as well as a far higher purchase price.
Over 1.5 billion Deutschemark was spent on total development (2008 USD nearly $1 billion). BMW used CAD tools, still unusual at the time, to design the car’s all-new body. Combined with wind tunnel testing, the resulting car had a drag coefficient of 0.29, a major improvement from the previous BMW M6/635CSi’s 0.39.
The 8 Series supercar offered the first V-12 engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox on a road car. It was also one of the first vehicles to be fitted with an electronic “fly-by-wire” throttle. The 8 Series was one of BMW’s first cars, together with the Z1, to use a multi-link rear axle. 850i
BMW 850i/Ci M70 V12 engine. This was the first model launched in 1990 with the 5 litre M70B50 V12 engine producing 300 PS (221 kW; 296 hp). It was available with either a 4-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox.
While CAD modeling allowed the car’s unibody to be 8 lb (3 kg) lighter than that of its predecessor, the car was significantly heavier when completed due to the large engine and added luxury items—a source of criticism from those who wanted BMW to concentrate on the driving experience. Some of the car’s weight may have been due to its pillarless “hardtop” body style, which lacked a “B” post. This body style, originating in the United States in the late 1940s, was abandoned by Detroit in the late 1970s.
Sales of the 8 Series were affected by the global recession of the early 1990s, the Persian Gulf War, and energy price spikes. BMW pulled the 8 Series out of the North American market in 1997, selling only 7,232 cars over seven years. BMW continued production for Europe until 1999. The ultimate worldwide production total was 31,062. The base price for an entry-level 8 series in the early 1990s started in the US $70,000 range; $115,000 in 2012 dollars.