90's Super Coupe = Super Value
The time to add an 850ci to your collection is now. Prices have stayed low for too long for collectors to avoid snapping these up!
The BMW 850ci is the stuff of 1990's dreams. Wedge styling on super cars rarely made it into big coupes or Saloons. When it did it was profound, just think of the Aston Legonda and it's knife edge fabulousness. The 850 took styling cues from all of the greats that came before it and combined it in a formula that offered the perfect amount of svelte muscular cut lines and automotive drama.
12 cylinders and a 6 speed manual. In the 1990's the 850 was in it's own segment of the market. Exotic but usable. Huge and luxurious yet sporty and race inspired. BMW,nor any manufacturer for that matter has dared to build such a cross over since. It was never a huge seller and it was a hugely complex car. The closest axiom is perhaps the Porsche 928 which envisioned as a 911 replacement never quite materialized as a true contender. We are lucky to have had such interesting cars and lucky they can still be found for fairly affordable prices. If you like them, get them while you can.
The V12 feels immediately special upon twisting the key. It whirs into life and has the feel of low inertia light weight internals. It feels and sounds exotic, if just a bit too muffled for my taste. As with the XJS featured in a full episode in season 1 manufacturers in this era were proud of just how effectively they could silence even the most thoroughbred of horses. Having driven 840,850ci models with both automatic and manual transmissions let me just make the decision easy for you. The 8 cylinder just doesn't feel as special and with the nicasil era still fresh in mind the added power and rarity of the 12 makes it an absolute NO BRAINER. Additionally this was the era of fairly horrible electronically controlled torque converter automatics. It adds a feeling of weight to the drive train, revs seem less free and power is very subdued. FIND a manual. There is a minimum price premium and it is well worth it. Automated manual and dual clutch boxes have made me a true believer on modern cars and even classics like the 360 Modena and v10 M6 are cars I would consider not wholly ruined with the automated manual but the 850 and it's V12 deserve the 6 speed manual box.
In terms of mechanical reliability the engine, gear box and ancillaries are pretty robust. Switch gear is shared with other BMW cars of the era but seat leather, plastic bits and soft touch materials lead this car to look tatty even before it truly tired. In this area there is really no way around fairly costly updates and maintenance. Is it worth it? Absolutely. The 850 and 928 are both cars that were meant to be ultimate super coupes. They were. Even when they were a few years old well kept examples showed some wear in the cabin and I would say it is part and parcel of owning one of these cars. With my 500SL, a car that has been garage kept and well loved, it STILL has broken small plastic pieces that have simply succumbed to age. In cars of this era patience and acceptance goes a long way toward enjoyment.
The exterior of these cars in both design and resilience is exceptional. Paint has held up very well on most examples I have looked at, even cars closing in on 200k miles look great if well kept. The pillarless coupe design is absolutely represented in it's most pure and beautiful form with this car. Low, languid and lusciously sculpted probably my favourite BMW coupe since the E9 3.0 CS (like the one featured in this episode:)
The 850ci echoes the greatness of BMWs past while somehow hinting at a future that to some extent is still in the future. The current M6 GranCoupe is close. The i8 is certainly future car but somehow too fussy and not regal enough to be a true heir to the 850 thrown.
Values are still unbelievably low given that cars that are far more common are changing hands for more. Heck, an E30 M3 is going to set you back more than the pinnacle coupe of the 90's. That's crazy. If you have always found these interesting I implore you. BUY one . Think of the Cars and Coffee bragging rights:
-engine shared in part with the McLaren F1 (ok heavily breathed on but still)
-low production numbers (the V12 6 speed car is one of the rarest modern BMW models)
-exclusivity, these things were crazy expensive when new and still have that air)
-it's a V12 VEEEEEE TWELVE !
Thanks for taking the time to read and consider. New video coming next week, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and consider buying a t shirt while you are here.
For more information and images of this and other interesting cars by artist Deane Arnold you can check out the gallery at : http://performanceautospa.com/gallery
They have been a great sponsor on this first season of the show and as I have found myself doing consutling with them I have had the pleasure of meeting some great enthusiasts from the Central Ohio area.