MANHART Brings Back the BMW E31 850i: A 1990s Luxury Coupé

shawn By On 16/05/2024 at 10:27

In Classic Cars

When BMW unveiled the first 8 Series generation at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in September 1989, the BMW E31 850i made a striking impression with its sleek, unusually flat silhouette for a BMW model.

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Beyond its visual appeal, the E31 was a technological trailblazer. It featured a 5.0-liter aluminium V12 engine, a co-steering rear axle with five spatial control arms, an electronic chassis, an electronic accelerator pedal, and advanced stability and traction control systems. The large doors of this B-pillarless coupé lowered the side windows slightly upon opening, and passengers enjoyed sports seats with integrated seat belts.

Despite its dynamic design and high-tech features, the original 8 Series was more of a luxurious Grand Tourer than a true sports car. While there were rumors of an M8 based on the E31 in development, it never reached the market. Consequently, the pinnacle of the E31 series remained the 850 CSi, powered by a 380 HP 5.6-liter V12 engine.

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The Classic Cars division of MANHART Performance, known for their expertise in restoring, customizing, and optimizing legendary sports cars and classics, has undertaken a nearly three-year restoration project in partnership with another company to transform an E31 coupé. This project aimed to create a vehicle that would have embodied the M8’s spirit at the time.

MANHART has long been committed to equipping BMW models with more modern and powerful engines from the Bavarian manufacturer’s portfolio than those originally conceived for the base vehicle. This approach results in unique sports cars that blend powerful performance, impressive cornering dynamics, and a timeless appearance, further emphasized by historic license plates.

In this project, MANHART replaced the original silky 5.0-liter V12 of the 1990 BMW E31 850i with the S62B50 engine from the BMW E39 M5, a similarly large but more powerful engine with four fewer cylinders. After performance optimization, this engine now delivers 420 HP to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual gearbox. This significant power boost of approximately 120 HP, combined with the aggressive design of the S62 engine, transforms the vehicle’s character into a robust sports car, now named the MANHART MH8 5.0 V8 Limited 01/05. The transformation from a luxurious Grand Tourer to a powerful sports car is further emphasized by the deep rumble of the stainless steel MANHART sports exhaust system.

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The coupé’s wheel arches are filled with MANHART Concave One alloy wheels, measuring 9x20 inches in the front and 10.5x20 inches in the rear, fitted with Continental Sport Contact 7 tires sized 255/30R20 and 295/25R20, respectively. The MANHART brake upgrade, featuring powerful 4-piston fixed calipers and perforated 340-millimeter brake discs on the front axle, is visible through the wheels. H&R lowering springs and Bilstein B6 shock absorbers give the BMW E31 850i a more aggressive stance, while the wheel/tire combinations are horizontally aligned with the fenders using MANHART's spacers. All axle components were restored, with new rubbers and bearings installed during the restoration.

To enhance the dynamic appearance of the MH8 5.0 V8, MANHART installed the more robust front and rear skirts of the 850 CSi, M exterior mirrors, and an aerodynamic spoiler lip on the trunk lid. The interior and cockpit also reflect a stylishly sporty aesthetic. The seats, rear bench, door panels, side panels, dashboard, and center console have been reupholstered in new leather with colored accents and stitching. The BMW sports steering wheel, gear lever, and handbrake are now covered in soft Alcantara, which also lines the headliner, pillar panels, back shells of the sports seats, and rear shelf.

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The MH8 5.0 V8 Limited 01/05 is a highly exclusive model, limited to just five examples worldwide in this configuration, each eligible for an H license plate in Germany. The example currently available for sale is priced at £128,000 (including German VAT). A recent expert appraisal suggests an even higher restoration value, underscoring the craftsmanship and attention to detail invested in this remarkable transformation of the BMW E31 850i.

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