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BMW 8 Series (E31): Production Engines

Written by Tom Carter (E31 Specialist)

Over the 11 years of E31 production in Europe, BMW chose to supply the 8 series with a total of five different, yet somewhat similar engines. All cars are factory limited electronically to 250kph (155mph).

850i and 850Ci 1989 – 1994 (Europe) 1991-1994 (North America)

The original car came with the famed M70 5.0L V12, pilfered from the more popular E32 750 series. This engine, in its stock form, came with 296 bhp and 331 ft lbs torque. Impressive for its’ time but the car was too heavy to become a performance exotic. With its’ stock gearing of 3.64 (4 speed automatics) and 2.65 (6-speed manual) the car was, and still is, best suited for autobahn high speed cruising. Some Japanese versions come with a 3.91 differential.

Total worldwide production: 20,072

850CSi 1992-1996 (Europe), 1993-1995 (US)

This car was what the 850 should have been from the start! While never designated as such, the CSi was thought of as the “M” version of the original 850 and used the S70 5.6L engine, derived from the M70. Output was 376 bhp and 405 ft lbs of torque. Weight of the car remained virtually the same but along with increased power and torque, the CSi benefited from improved handling as it came equipped with heavier factory sway bars and lowering springs, and stock gearing of 2.93 with 25% limited slip. Some Euro versions also came with active rear steering (AHK). All CSi’s were equipped with a manual 6-speed transmission. While 225 of the total worldwide build were shipped to the US, these “super” E31’s were never imported into Canada and are still disallowed for reasons unknown today.

Total worldwide production: 1,510

850Ci 1994-1999 (Europe) 1994-1997 (North America)

The later Ci’s came with the improved M73 5.4L V12, again based on the original M70 although few parts were interchangeable. Brake horsepower was increased to 332 and torque to 361 ft lbs. The M73’s were equipped with the 5-speed Steptronic Transmission. Stock gearing was 2.81.

Total worldwide production: 1,218

840i & Ci 1992-1999 (Europe) and 1994-1997 (North America)

Early 840s came with the M60 V-8 4.0L, 4 valve engine outputting 282 bhp and 295 ft lbs torque. This was followed in the later years by the M62 4.4L 4 valve V8 also with 286 bhp but an increase in torque to 309 ft lbs The M62 was based on the earlier M60. Stock gearing for the M60 was 2.93 and 2.81 for the M62. Due to the smaller engine, the 840’s were slightly lighter than the 850’s so performance is similar with the 850 holding a slight edge.

Total worldwide production: M60 4,728, M62 3,075

Total worldwide E31 production: 30603 (not including 18 BMW 830’s never released)

To learn more about the local E31 scene visit, home of the BC 8’s Special Interest Group for more information

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