I browse through car listings on eBay regularly, and although I see many cars I’d like to own, after a moment of daydreaming, I’m able to move on. Every once in a while, however, a car comes along that I truly lust over, and I cannot get it out of my mind. This Oxford Green Metallic 1995 BMW 840Ci which I came across on the ‘Bay in January was one of those such cars.
My lust over the 8-Series goes back almost two decades. Since childhood, I’ve built a serious 1/18-scale car model collection, amassing hundreds of models over the years. My love affair with the BMW 8-Series began when, around age 4, I was blessed with this very model I pulled out of storage to photograph.
I remember that day vividly. It was a Saturday in the spring, and I was tagging along with my mom and my aunt Kathy on a day of shopping at a mall we didn’t normally visit, The Mall at Chestnut Hill, in Newton, MA. It was a very swanky place in a rather high real estate town, so everyday mall stores weren’t to be found. Instead of the typical K-B Toys, Chestnut Hill’s toy store was an pint-sized F.A.O. Schwarz.
After being dragged around to clothing stores all day, it was my turn to shop, and naturally I wanted to go to F.A.O. Schwarz. After looking around, I headed for the car models and selected my choice, a 1/18-scale BMW 850i by Maisto. As I was pulling a forrest green example off the shelf, I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to get the red 850i next to it instead. I politely declined, as there was just something about the dark green that made this car even more appealing. This is probably where my liking to dark green cars began.
The 850i was one of my favorite car models ever, and to this day it’s still in my possession, normally bubble-wrapped with most of my other car models in the attic. Despite my fascination with this car, the number of real-sized examples I’ve seen in the metal is very low, probably less than five. Just over 31,000 BMW 8-Series were built worldwide over the course of ten years. I’m willing to bet that most current 8-Series owners do not currently use them as daily drivers.
While technically not a direct replacement for the E24 6-Series, the E31 8-Series was in many ways, a spiritual successor, with specific respects to the M6. Both were similarly sized, occupied the same place as the largest and most luxurious coupe in BMW’s lineup, and the 840Ci’s V8 made exactly the same horsepower as the M6’s I6 (torque was up quite a bit in the 840Ci’s 4.0L V8 however). Of course, with larger V8s and even V12 power, performance was a much more important aspect of the 8-Series than non-M6 6-Series.
The 840Ci, like this car was considered the base model 8-Series. It’s 4.0L V8 made 282 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, quite respectable even by todays standards. The 840Ci was later fitted with a 4.4L V8, making the same horsepower but more torque. The 850i was initially powered by a 5.0L V12, although this engine too was later replaced with a larger displacement V12.
Designed by Klaus Kapitza, from the front, the 8-Series was unmistakeingly a BMW. From other angles, its resemblance to contemporary BMWs was less obvious. Unlike the E24, which dated back to 1976, the long, low, and wide E31 looked thoroughly modern and frankly, sinister. Its low front end, with pop-up headlights and small dual-kidney grille evoked the look of the iconic supercar M1.
While its sculpted sides and hardtop greenhouse conveyed luxury, its long, low-slung hood and fast roofline conveyed performance. Yes, the 8-Series was a true 2-door hardtop, and I think it looked best with the windows down.
The interior was equally breathtaking, with very cockpit-like dash and door panels. The instrument panel, angled nearly 45-degrees upwards has always been my favorite design feature of the interior.
The front-seat design looked very modern, especially with its side-hinged headrests. While the gathered design of its Nappa leather may date this car to the early-1990s, I think in some ways it looks more elegant than many of the leather seats in present-day luxury cars.
Seriously, what I would give to own this car. Like a particular girl with whom I had a serious thing for, but it didn’t work out, this car will be very difficult to get over. At least if it’s any solace, I own the V12 850i, albeit in 1/18-scale.