Caught in the classifieds: 1995 BMW 8 Series 840ci
After taking a break from highlighting BMWs for a few weeks, Iím back at it again. This time though, Iíve got a bit of a hidden gem to show you. Today, Iím showcasing a car which is undoubtedly a future classic in the making but is still a bit of an underdog in the classic car scene. That bodes well for you and me though, because it means you find one at an absolute steal these days. In todayís ďCaught in the ClassifiedsĒ article, Iím shining the spotlight on what is possibly the UKís cheapest 840Ci currently on sale.
Making its debut in early 1990, the 8-Series was BMWís answer to Mercedesí SL-Class. Although it would ultimately come to compete against the CL-Class, it was undoubtedly an SL rival at the beginning. By the time the car first appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW had already been working on it for almost ten years. The project was conceived in 1981 but the final design phase and production development didnít start until 1986.
The 8-Series was offered in four different trim levels: the 840Ci, the 850i, the 850Ci, and the 850CSi. The 840Ci came with a V8 while the rest of the lineup featured a V12. I know everyone thinks the flagship model is the one you want, and while thatís generally true, itís not the case here. The V8 is much lighter than the V12 and itís a lot less complicated to work on.
At £7,995, the example Iím highlighting today is the cheapest one on sale right now. It needs a bit of TLC, but for the money, itís just stunning. The next cheapest 8-Series I was able to find sits at £12,450 at the time of the writing of this article. If youíve got the time and patience, and especially if you love to work on cars yourself, this could be an excellent simple project car. Its mechanicals are all solid as it only has 99,000 miles on the clock, so itís just the exterior that needs a bit of love.
Why did the late eighties and early nineties spawn so many great-looking cars? From the Ferrari F40 to the original VW Golf, the 90s were the golden era of car design. BMWís brilliant-looking 8-Series is no exception to the rule. Styled to be as elegant and sculpted as possible, it represents the pinnacle of 90s design.
Itís got pop-up headlights, an elongated bonnet, a sweeping canopy-like roofline, and large rear taillightsÖ all the hallmark features which make a car great. Stepping away from boxy shapes and sharp angles which dominated car design in the 70s and 80s, the 8-Series is still one of the most gorgeous cars on the road youíll ever come across.
Itís got an immense amount of road presence, even when itís sitting still. Itís a two-decade old design that seems to capture the heart and spirit of everyone who sees one in the flesh. People stop to take pictures of it and appreciate its curves at supermarket parking lots, let alone dedicated car shows and meets.
Inside, the 8-Series is a lesson in driver-oriented layout and design. Everything is angled towards the driver, as witnessed by the massive centre console tilted towards the driverís side. Before the 8-Series, most cars had a flat dashboard and relatively minimalistic layouts. Marketing it as a sporty grand tourer, BMW knew they had to make it luxurious and comfortable just as much as they did sporty.
To that extent, most 8-Series, including this one, have features like leather seats, a sunroof, remote central locking, A/C, electric door mirrors, heated seats, cruise control, electric windows, lumbar support, and a whole plethora of other things I canít list in this article without running out of space.
You get the gist of it, donít you? The 8-Series was the pinnacle of GT cars in the 1990s, so much so that I think its popularity was a large reason as to why Bentley decided to build the Continental in the early 2000s. The 8-Series represented the ultimate way to conduct long-distance travel, and it definitely didnít hurt that it proved to be a decent daily as well.
Engine and Performance
Like I mentioned earlier, you can find an 850 if you really want a big V12, but Iíd advise sticking with an 840 for reasons of simplicity. Not only is it lighter than the V12, but itís much easier to work on and maintenance will cost significantly less. On nearly three-decade old cars, that surely has to be something worthy of consideration.
This particular example is the earlier 840Ci with the 4.0-litre V8, not the later 4.4-litre unit which was more efficient but produced the same amount of power. To that extent, this car makes 282 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, more than enough for brisk motoring experience.
Power is sent to the rear wheels through a 5-speed automatic, though you were able to get it with a 6-speed manual. As big of a fan of manual gearboxes as I am, this is one car which is best enjoyed through the comfort of an auto, not a manual.
It being a BMW and all, the 8-Series is surprisingly sporty to drive. It still wafts along and it likes to deal with road imperfections in several suspension strokes, but it certainly doesnít fall apart when you show it a corner. Thereís a decent amount of body roll and itís somewhat understeer-y at the limit, but itís composed and predictable at sensible road speeds.
Compared to most modern GT cars, it obviously loses out on driving dynamics, but thereís something about the way it drives that makes it extremely charming and charismatic. It cocoons you and isolates you from the outside world, at the same time delivering a fun driving experience very few GT cars of its era cars can offer.
Model: BMW 8-Series
Iím a big BMW ĎMí fanatic, but even I have to concede this is one BMW product which is made better by not being an ĎMí car. Itís not necessarily harsh or stiff, nor is it too aggressive to look at or be in. If youíve got the cash, buy one while you can, because prices will skyrocket over the next few years. Thereís no better place to find excellent used BMW 8 Series cars for sale than on the DesperateSeller.co.uk website.
DesperateSeller.co.uk rating: 8.5 out of 10