The Top 12 Stillborn Production Cars of All Time
Although the BMW 8 Series took over from the original E24-chassis 6 Series as the company’s flagship coupe, it wasn’t really a successor to it. The 8 Series (also known to BMW geeks and employees as the E31) was a bigger, heavier and more relaxed car than its predecessor, which had a pretty successful career in touring car racing. That being said, BMW did offer a sporty 8er in the form of the 850CSi, with a bigger, brawnier version of the regular 850i’s SOHC V12, 6-speed manual transmission and upgraded suspension and brake components.
But if M GmbH had had its way, it would have built an E31 derivative capable of giving the makers of some legitimate supercars ulcers. The pattern M engineers followed in developing the M8 prototype was similar to the one they followed when developing the first generation M3 a few years prior: Improve the aerodynamics, move the fenders out to fit bigger wheels and tires, tweak the chassis tuning and, oh yeah, install a muscular, free-breathing multivalve engine. In the case of the M8, that engine was an experimental 48-valve version of the 850CSi’s S70 5.6L V12 generating 550 horsepower. No, this wasn’t the same engine that was installed in the McLaren F1 (It didn’t meet designer Gordon Murray’s power and weight targets.), but it did provide M engineers with a jumping off point for that powerplant.
Unfortunately, the M8 you see above was the only one built; BMW management, sensing a softening super coupe market as the global recession of the early 1990s was taking hold, pulled the plug on the program. From a business standpoint, it was almost certainly the right thing to do, but from an enthusiast standpoint, it was and still is a major bummer.