The direction the classic car world will take is difficult to predict, with many enthusiasts in pursuit of a collector’s car that will both reward and appreciate. It’s often hard to capture the right combination but in 1990 when BMW launched a 2+2 with a swept-up cockpit, flowing lines and 5.0 litre V12, they had the boxes ticked.
When the 850i arrived, weighing just over 1.8t, it incorporated a drive-by-wire throttle, multilink axle and had a commanding presence on the road. It now looks svelte next to the modern BMW’s but sales were slow, dampened perhaps by journalists who expected another track-focussed car, rather than a flagship GT.
Over a production run of 9 years powered by a 4.0 V8 or 5.0 V12, the substantial weight kept its performance grounded on the high-speed Autobahn. Later models would feature a 5.6 litre, with production stopping due to high fuel costs.
Compromise in car design is inevitable, the later Bangle-designed BMW’s evidence enough, but the 8 series was a clean shape with a low CD, a pillarless coupe (perhaps echoing the 1970’s Jaguar XJC), its signature low nose matched by the V12 quad pipes at the rear.
Built when quality and engineering mattered, this appreciating classic has a firm hold in the market and arguably has had for the last decade. Buy one now while prices are affordable and support plentiful. The family can fit in the back, and the BMW Car Club provides strong event support and technical advice and continues to mark out values as increasing, perhaps making it BMW’s next Oldtimer classic.
The choice could be a late V8 4.0 litre auto or if you can afford the fuel, one of the last of the V12’s. Well-built with strong mechanicals but electrics can require sorting and throw up problems with cheaper buys.
An 850i/Ci starting from £25-£30k for a good example, while the one-owner 850CSI is still attainable and could see values rise to £50k, sporting 4-wheel steer, durable engines and 375HP. They demand strong money and the top end is attainable for a concours CSi.
Good 4.0 litre V8’s with provenance and low owners are still readily available from £15k – a late model 840 Ci is a great way into the marque, some sporting the desirable split wheels and a full history. The number of ‘one owner’ cars perhaps a testimony to how off the mark some of those ‘90’s journalists were about the car’s qualities, its long-term owners captivated by the lines, technology and the ride.
What do you think of the 850i? Let us know in the comments below!