The BMW 850i E31 is a timeless classic that continues to captivate automotive enthusiasts to this day. Launched in 1990, the 850i was the first model in BMW’s 8 Series, a lineup designed to showcase the German automaker’s prowess in luxury, performance, and technology. At the heart of the 850i lies its magnificent V12 engine, which played a significant role in the car’s enduring appeal and laid the foundation for BMW’s future involvement in Formula One, culminating in the legendary McLaren F1. In this article, we will delve into the history, design, and performance of the iconic BMW 850i E31, its powerful V12 engine, and its connection to the storied McLaren F1.
Design and Style:
The BMW 850i E31 featured a distinctive design with its low-slung, wedge-shaped profile, pop-up headlights, and pillarless windows. The car’s elegant and aggressive appearance was a result of extensive wind tunnel testing, which helped achieve a low drag coefficient of 0.29. The design, penned by Klaus Kapitza, successfully married style with aerodynamic efficiency, making the 850i a standout in its era and ensuring its iconic status for years to come.
The Magnificent V12 Engine:
Under the hood of the BMW 850i E31 lies its most defining feature: the 5.0-liter M70 V12 engine. This powerful engine produced 296 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, propelling the car from 0 to 60 MPH in just 6.3 seconds. The V12 engine was known for its smooth and refined power delivery, making the 850i an ideal grand tourer for long-distance drives. Additionally, the engine’s performance could be enhanced with aftermarket upgrades, further adding to the car’s appeal among enthusiasts [(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTD720jceYM)].
Innovative Technology and Luxurious Interior:
The BMW 850i E31 was packed with advanced technology for its time, including an integrated onboard computer, electronic throttle control, adaptive damping suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission. The interior was equally impressive, offering occupants a luxurious and comfortable environment with high-quality materials, supportive seats, and a host of amenities that were ahead of its time.
The Formula One Connection:
The BMW 850i’s V12 engine served as the foundation for the development of BMW’s Formula One engine, the BMW S70/2, which powered the legendary McLaren F1. The McLaren F1 is often regarded as one of the greatest sports cars of all time, and its success is in part due to its remarkable engine. The S70/2 engine was a 6.1-liter V12 that produced 627 HP and allowed the McLaren F1 to achieve a top speed of 240.1 MPH, setting a record for the fastest production car at the time.
The development of the S70/2 engine was an ambitious project for BMW. The company aimed to create a high-performance, naturally aspirated engine that was lightweight, compact, and efficient. The engineers at BMW Motorsport took the basic architecture of the M70 V12 engine from the 850i and made extensive modifications, including a redesigned block, lightweight components, and advanced materials to reduce weight and increase rigidity. The result was an engine that delivered impressive power and performance while retaining the smoothness and refinement of the 850i’s V12.
The McLaren F1’s Legacy:
The McLaren F1’s success and the performance of the BMW S70/2 engine cemented the legacy of the BMW 850i E31 and its V12 engine. The collaboration between BMW and McLaren showcased the potential of the V12 platform and the engineering prowess of both companies. The F1’s astonishing performance, handling, and design have made it a benchmark in the automotive world, and the BMW V12 engine played a significant role in establishing its legendary status.
The BMW 850i E31 remains a highly sought-after classic among car enthusiasts due to its unique design, luxurious interior, advanced technology, and, most importantly, its powerful V12 engine. The connection to the McLaren F1 further elevates the car’s status in the automotive world, drawing attention to the impressive engineering and performance capabilities of the V12 platform. Despite being over three decades old, the 850i E31 continues to captivate and impress with its timeless design and undeniable charm.
Maintaining the Classic:
Ownership of a BMW 850i E31 requires a certain level of commitment to maintenance, as the V12 engine can be demanding in terms of upkeep. The engine features two batteries, two fuel pumps and filters, twin distributor caps, and a host of other components that need periodic replacement [(https://www.carsales.com.au/editorial/details/bmw-850i-850ci-coupe-1990-94-3179/)]. However, the car’s enduring appeal and the satisfaction of driving a classic with such a remarkable engine make the effort worthwhile for many enthusiasts.
The BMW 850i E31 is a testament to the innovation, performance, and luxury that defined the golden era of grand tourers. Its striking design, advanced technology, and the magnificent V12 engine set the stage for the car’s enduring appeal and its connection to the legendary McLaren F1. As a symbol of automotive excellence, the 850i E31 continues to captivate enthusiasts, proving that its charm and allure remain as powerful as its iconic V12 engine.
credits Publication: Flavio Bergmann
Photo credits: photomontage Vinícius Pascoal and web site BMW 850i’s V12