Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The BMW 8 Series E31 M8

The symbol-laden red BMW from Glengarry Glen Ross

I just watched David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) last night. Now, 24 hours later, I am still blown away by it. The all-star cast-- Lemon, Pacino, Harris, Arkin, Spacey-- were all at the top of their games. Two references really stuck with me. One was about the Patels. The other was about Alec Baldwin's $80,000 BMW.

Of course, he was talking about his red 850i parked outside. This V12 grand tourer has never gotten a lot of press. It came out around the time of the last recession and was just not a big hit. Less than 31,000 units were sold during its entire production run (1989-99).

One question that bugged me today was: What was the most outrageous 8 series model to come out, from either the factory or from the tuners (Alpina, Dinan, etc.)? The answer, I believe, is the M8 prototype.

The M8 was meant to compete with Ferraris and Porsches. But with a sour market, the idea was scrapped. A 6 liter V12 producing over 500 horsepower moved the red machine. Telltale cosmetic cues included the hood bulge, rear fender vents, and those window holes.

A common misconception was that the M8 and the McLaren F1 shared the same engine. Not true. Gordon Murray eschewed the engine because it was too heavy.

BMW eventually destroyed the only prototype. As interesting as the project sounded, I think it would have violated the true spirit of M vehicles to slap an M badge onto such a heavy, long wheelbased coupe.

Update: It's alive!

1 comment:

Edvin said...

It's a real shame they destroyed it. I wonder what happened to this?