Reconstructed 850i: The 8th Wonder

  1. The Icon
  2. The Project
  3. The New Life
1. The Icon
Back in the eighties, BMW was desperately lacking a big, sporty, yet luxurious coupe in their offer. Over the years, that was the role assigned to the 6 Series, but it always seemed like it was never enough. What the Bavarian behemoth needed, was a showstopper, something expensive, eye-catching, and unique on the market. Hence, we fast forward to the 1989 Frankfurt Auto Show and enter their first 8 Series generation, the iconic E31.
The car brought a lot of premieres to the BMW brand and the auto world, such as being the first road car to offer a V12 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. It was one of the first vehicles to be fitted with an electronic drive-by-wire throttle. The 8 Series was also among one of BMW's first cars to use a multi-link rear axle. Particularly, the 850i was the first model of the 8 Series, launched in 1990, with the 5.0-liter M70B50 V12 engine having a power output of 300 PS (221 kW; 296 hp). It was available with either a 4-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual gearbox.
2. The Project
The car in question is an 850i from 1990, which was bought in a functional, yet out-of-shape state, in April 2019, with the sole intention of giving it the glory from old times. An so, the project began. First of all, the EDC suspension was rebuilt, reconditioning the coilovers and adding Eibach pro-kit springs, for a better and more stable stance. On the outside, the whole body was erased and repainted, the dusting and recoating maneuvers took over 8 months, and the new paint job got wrapped for protection. The rear wing is an exact M-Tech replica, custom made by Ghetto Tuning, since the original part cannot be found anymore. The front lip was brought all the way from Lithuania, and the car got a new engine hood, to go hand-in-hand with the rest of the body.
Further down the road, the 3-piece 19" AC Schnitzer rims were imported from Croatia. All 4 were enhanced with 2.5 and 3.5 radinox Schmidt wheel lips, bringing the width to 9.5 and 10.5. Of course, the new wheels needed a new stoppage, so M Performance brakes with Brembo 4-piston pads were fitted, while the air brake disks got enlarged.
Inside, we have both the original leather, and original plastic, some shiny new BMW sport seats, which are very rare and hard to get hold of, while the head unit was replaced with one from a newer generation. For the media part of this project, the owner installed an Audison system with 8 channels, a bluetooth receiver with fiber optic, and 12 Gladen Zero Pro speakers.
Now, for the geeky side of things: while the computers have been sent for resofting in Germany, there is a detailed plan for redoing, yet again, all the engine. Also, all the motor electronics are brand new. Just like the brake pump kit that was imported from the USA.
In terms of gadgets, this car definitely sets a new standard. Here are some of the toys it has inside: EDC (this means it has adaptive suspension, with gyro sensors), Comfort / Sport button, traction control, autopilot, climatronic, electric heated seats, adjustable mirrors, heated door handles, front light washers, adjustable wiper pressure, Webasto adjustable, not to mention you can even start/stop it from a phone app. Now, how modern is that, from a 90’s car, in 2021?
3. The New Life
Mind yourselves, this is not a cheap car, either to buy or to own. Actually, it is by far one of the most high-maintenance cars that we have ever covered on Tunedside. In terms of care, consumption, and general usage, it surpasses some of the newer and more exotic names on the market. However, the legacy it brings, makes it all worth it. The iconic machine that the 850i was, and still is, will always overcompensate its needs.
The project at-hand might seem like titanic work, and it surely was. The sheer fact that it has parts and pieces from all over the world makes it even more interesting and captures the attention of both purists as well as tuners alike. It’s neat and clean and well-thought-out and no nut or bolt has been thrown in, just for the sake of it. Every step was calculated along the way. There are no pretty or funny sides, just serious, solid work, exactly how the 8 Series was intended to be in the first place.
The fact that this carefully crafted project car is a daily driver, while still being able to attend every show as an exhibit makes it even more intriguing. Because what this particular vehicle has done is more than just restore a classic sports-car. It has brought back to life a part of history, and that’s something that can never be taken away, by anything or anyone.
Written by Mihai Dumitrescu / Instagram
Photographed by Anna Dumitrescu / Instagram