The Story Of The BMW 8 Series Coupe (E31)

Market Entry

Thirty years ago at the ‘89 Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW introduced the all-new 8 Series Coupe to the world. With the code name of E31, it was an in-direct replacement of then already discontinued E24, BMW 6 series. The 8 series was meant to surpass the E24 model as it offered higher performance than the six. 

The 8 Series Coupe was a clean-sheet design which started 1984 and included some of the lovely design features from classic BMW 1930’s coupes.

Poor Sales

Although the sales were somewhat disappointing at the time, the E31 is now considered to be a modern classic. During the ten years that this car was built, BMW sold just 30,621 E31s worldwide. Twenty-four of whom were made in South Africa at the Rosslyn factory. Tax reasons are behind this decision as at the time. It was cheaper to assemble them there, rather than importing. Unfortunately, the 8 series coupe was discontinued in 1999 due to the poor sales.

Engine Options

BMW offered E31 in 2-door coupe only, but a several of engine options to choose from.

While 20 thousand of them came with the V12 engines and automatic transmission. Approx ⅙ of V12s were equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. It was the first ever road car to be built with V12 and the six gear manual transmission.

850i Was the most popular variant of the 8 series. It was made from 1990 to 1994 in a total of 20,072 units. The engine capacity was set at 210 kW, 282 bhp, 420 N⋅m.

The 840Ci was added to the range in 1992 and used until 96. Performance wise it had the same kW and horsepower as the 850i, but the torque was lower – 400. This engine featured in 4,728 vehicles.

The later 840Ci: 1995 – 1999, featured in 3,075 coupes, performing at 210 kW, 282 bhp, 420 N⋅m.

850 CSi was used during 1992 – 1996. Used in 1,510 E31s. Max performance numbers were 280kW, 375 bhp, 550 N⋅m.

Lastly, 850 Ci (1992-1999) was built in 1,218 BMWs and capped at 240 kW, 322 bhp and 490 N⋅m.

Amazingly, the 4.0-litre V8 with 282 bhp was classed as an entry level.

P.s The 830i was the prototype, which did not make the production line.


The most distinctive piece of design on the BMW 8 Series E31 is the pop-up headlights. The older generation will certainly remember them from watching the Knight Rider. Regardless, of the affiliation, the pop-up headlights are a beautiful feature.

It also came without the B-pillar – just the pure glass that led to the crisp & clean look.

Modern features

The 8 Series Coupe was filled with the most modern features at the time. This included a seat belt system which is built-in the seats. It also came with electronic steering wheel control with the memory function, Auto-dimming mirrors, remote locking system, top of the range onboard computer and Bluetooth.

Alloys & Tyres

BMW had three different alloy and tyre fitments available for the 8 series. 16-inch alloys came with the 235 50 r16 tyres fitted on all corners.

The bigger 17 & 18-inch alloys were staggered with the wider tyres on the rear.

235 45 r17 (front) with the 265 40 r17 (rear) and 245 40 r18 (front) with 285 35 r18 (rear) were the tyre fitments.


BMW decided to bring back the 8 Serious Coupe by re-releasing it in 2018. Hopefully, the sales during the second spell will outperform the first take.



For all your tyre needs including fitting, alignment and other services, get in touch with the experts at Tyreland today. Call now on 01 860 20 20 to find your nearest location.


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