Buyers Guide to:
1993 to 1999
BMW Car Club Great Britain
Following the demise of the 6 Series the announcement of the BMW 8 Series (or E31 model) at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show was welcomed by fans of the brand. Loaded with kit and featuring technology such as multiplex wiring, the first model to arrive was the 850 with a powerful but thirsty V12 engine and this was joined in 1993 by the smaller 840. The 4.0-litre V8 produced 286bhp, ensuring it was still plenty quick enough, and this was upgraded in 1995 to the more efficient 4.4-litre M62 unit. Just under 8000 examples were made, and although cabin space was a little tight for such a big car there were few more comfortable ways of covering big distances. Production lasted until 1999.
- Wheel arches
- Sunroof aperture
- The panels and bumpers for scrapes and dents. The front nosecone, containing the kidney grilles, is easily damaged and although repairs are possible a replacement part is around £600 before painting and fitting
- That the pop-up headlamps are working properly, and check the edges of the windscreen as they can turn milky due to delamination
- Around the sunroof panel and aperture for signs of rust bubbling, and ensure the roof opens and closes without problem. Replacing the complete sunroof cassette is around £1500 for the part alone
- The engine for oil and coolant leaks, and any signs that the head gaskets have been compromised; be very wary of a car that seems to overheat
- For a complete service history that indicates a caring owner. Maintenance is pricey and you need to avoid cars run on a shoestring. Early 4.0-litre engines could suffer from issues with the Nikasil cylinder bores – it won’t be a problem today, but a new engine could have been tted in the past
- For any warning lights on the dashboard. The engines can suffer from electronic gremlins while faults with the VANOS variable valve timing system cause rough running
- That the car starts without problem. The cars can suffer from battery drain when left standing, and tracing the cause can become expensive. Replacing the twin batteries is costly, too, while the complex electronics will need professional attention
- For any problems with the manual or automatic gearbox. Both are strong, but evidence in the history of regular oil changes is good news as replacing a failed unit is extremely expensive
- For vibration from the driveline as it points to worn prop-shaft joints. Replacement is fairly inexpensive but it’s a good bargaining point
- The brake pads and discs for wear, although parts specialists can provide replacements at a reasonable cost. Ensure the warning lights for the ABS and DSC traction control system illuminate and extinguish correctly on start up as faults can be expensive to
- For clunks over bumps that indicate wear in the suspension bushes, and look for uneven tyre wear and pulling to one side on the road. Damaged or corroded alloy wheels can be refurbished at a reasonable cost
- The condition of interior trim as shabby upholstery is bad news and points to a car that’s not been cared for. Look for a sagging headlining and leather seats that are cracked or scuffed
- That all of the gadgets work. There’s lots of kit so don’t be satisfied until you’ve tried every switch and button. And watch for dead pixels in the display for the on-board computer as it’s a common problem
- That the air-conditioning blows cold; it’s a complex system and may need more than re-gassing whatever the vendor might say. And ensure that damp carpets haven’t been caused by a leaking heater matrix. The dashboard needs to come out to replace it, so it won’t be cheap
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