1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

Not only has Archie Hendryx fulfilled a childhood dream by buying an E31 8 Series, but this incredible build goes far beyond anything he could ever have imagined back then, and it’s nothing short of a masterpiece.


Simply stunning air-ride 840Ci

Words: Elizabeth de Latour

Photos: Matt Richardson

This incredible E31 8 Series is a simply sensational build, packed with so much attention to detail, and it will blow you away.

1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

We’ve got a real soft spot for the original 8 Series, as do a lot of BMW fans, but for Archie Hendryx, the 8 Series means so much. It was always a dream car for him, and what he’s built is the ultimate realisation of that dream, and his passion for BMWs runs deep. “My love for BMWs started at a young age when I was only 10 or 11, and of course, at that age, it was based purely on aesthetics,” Archie explains. “My uncle had just bought himself a brand new E30, and a few years later, my father bought an E34. Back then, BMWs were still quite a rare sight, and each model looked uniquely different. It wasn’t until many years later, when I was able to actually drive one, that I fully appreciated the power, performance and exhilaration of the rear-wheel drive Bavarian beasts,” he enthuses. “My first BMW was a 1996 E36 M3 which I bought in 2003. It was my dream car at the time and perfect in Cosmos black. It gave me all the performance and looks I was after and had decent rear seats for my kids, who were young at the time, so it wasn’t too hard to justify to my wife,” Archie laughs, but the real dream was always an E31…

1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

“While I had many dream cars as a kid, the E31 for me was always the ‘unattainable dream car’,” Archie tells us with a smile. “The first time I saw one was on a 1991 Prince video called ‘Gangster Glam’ and, then later again, when he released his 1992 video for ‘Sexy M.F.’ At first, I thought it was a new model of a yellow Ferrari until I recognised the small BMW kidney grills. Along with the popup headlights it was the most unique-looking BMW I had ever seen. While prices plummeted over the next decade or so I was scared to take the risk and be lumbered with a ‘supercar’ running and maintenance bill.

1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

“Roll forward to 2015, and I was forced to sell my modified Audi TTS for financial reasons with a £6000 budget to buy a cheaper and smarter alternative.

While looking through Auto Trader for a sensible old 3 Series, I couldn’t help but to just take another customary quick look at the 8 series that were on offer. Sensible was a sentiment that was quickly discarded as I decided to phone up and enquire about the 8 Series models that were closest to my vicinity,” he laughs, and we just love that logic because being sensible is definitely overrated.

1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31 - engine M62 B44 V8

The car Archie ended up buying, the first 8 Series he went to look at, was this very car. Originally a Barbados green 840Ci Sport with 17” throwing stars, rust bubbles and broken air-con, it doesn’t sound like a great buy, but, as Archie says: “All sense of rational thinking and logic went out the window as soon as I sat in it and flipped open the pop-up headlights,” he laughs. “It was the first time that I had been that close to the ‘unattainable dream car’, and I ended up making the rashest, most nonsensical and emotional purchase of my life. For those mad, irrational couple of hours, all I could focus on was that I was going to be driving an 8 Series home!” and, honestly, there’s no better feeling than that.

1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

With Archie having been a keen car modder since his teenage years, it was inevitable that the 8 Series would be receiving some upgrades.

He had a plan in mind but, unfortunately, being sensible had to take priority here, and Archie first set his sights on sorting his rather sorry 8 Series. “The first couple of months were spent on having to replace all of the parts which were either deteriorated, faulty or on the way out. Within a year, I had spent more than triple the car’s original cost to get it to sound working order, and it definitely wasn’t the money-saving solution I needed.

It would take me another couple of years to get the funds I required to get the mods I wanted done,” Archie sighs. While this project ultimately ended up costing way more than he ever could have envisaged, as a dream car, it’s fair to say there are no regrets here.

1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

Every area of this car is simply incredible, with Archiehaving put in so much attention to detail, but you simply have to start with the exterior because not only is the colour absolutely dazzling, there’s a story attached to the final finish. “The original Barbados green colour of the car did look dated, and initially, I was thinking of a refresh repaint after all the body and rust repairs. Then in 2016, Prince, the reason I first noticed an E31, sadly passed away. I then decided I wanted to repaint the car in purple to honour his memory,” says Archie. John Culver at JC Autobody sorted out the E31’s shabby body, replacing all the corrosion with new panels and welds, and went on to introduce Archie to Daytona violet, which he instantly fell for. “The paint job was immaculate, but I was constantly worried about getting it stone chipped and started looking at potentially having the car PPF’d.

“That’s when I got sidetracked looking at car wraps and found a wrap company called Inozetek which had a range of wraps that looked just like paint. By chance, they happened to have a wrap which was an exact match to the Nissan Midnight Purple I had originally considered for the car, and I decided to take the plunge and get the car wrapped by Monsterwraps, based in Southampton,” he says. “It was a decision I don’t regret: the car absolutely pops at night and in the light and has a slight flip depending on whichangle you look at it. It’s very rare for folks to realise that it’s not painted; car wraps have come a long way,” he enthuses. The end result is simply stunning, and we simply love that deep, rich purple on the slick 8 Series shape, it’s an epic combination.

And, speaking of epic, that’s the only way to describe the incredible interior that Archie has arranged for his 8 Series. His plan was always to change the original beige interior to black with purple piping, along with swapping the beige trim panels to black, but these plans were elevated to the next level after a trip abroad. “I took one of my sons to the Lamborghini museum and factory in Sant’Agata for his 16th birthday. It was the first time I had seen first-hand the amount of effort, precision and care taken by the Italians when it came to upholstering their car interiors. It blew my mind, and as soon as we walked out of the factory, I was on the phone to Linas at DEsignLS, exuberantly screaming: ‘We gotta have leather man, leather all over, everywhere, stitching, the lot!’,” Archie laughs.

As well as featuring the black leather and purple piping that Archie had originally wanted, every surface within the 840’s cabin has been covered in black leather with purple stitching. Alcantara features on the headlining, and then you’ve got the purple carpets, plus touches like the M logos that are embossed into the headrests. There’s a custom armrest based on an E46 item that covers the relocated HVAC controls that allowed the fitment of the double-DIN touchscreen head unit, and there are still so many little touches and details beyond that. As far as interiors go, it’s simply breathtaking and absolutely fitting for a car built to this standard.

You may have spied the custom-mounted air-ride controller in the cabin, and Archie’s decision to sit his Eight on air came about from the desire for a lower ride height without compromising the ride itself. “I had already replaced the stock suspension and springs with Eibach lowering springs and Bilstein struts but still felt the car didn’t sit low enough, as well as provide the driving comfort it should do,” says Archie. His research led him to choose an AccuAir kit and get Plush Automotive to do the install, but he had specific requirements in mind.

“While there had been a few E31s that had been fitted with air suspension before, I wanted to get a system that wasn’t just for the aestheticsof the slammed look. I wanted a system that would enable the car to handle better and consequently improve the driving experience,” Archie explains. “To do this, Plush had to build an air suspension kit for the E31 from scratch which would incorporate their ABP Bilstein-based struts and airbags, coupled with the AccuAir Elevel+ management system and height sensors that automatically adjust the car’s ride height. Thanks to them, I ended up with an E31 that can drive a lot quicker around corners, has reduced bouncing over rough roads and can be lifted at will to avoid scraping my front bumper on speed bumps. Plus, it does look good slammed to the ground when parked!” he enthuses, and with this setup, he can truly have his cake and eat it.

Of course, the air-ride itself is just one aspect of the setup because with air on board, that gives you the perfect excuse to put together an incredible boot build to house all that hardware, and that’s exactly what Archie has in his Eight. “Luke Massey, the owner of Plush, kept insisting that I was building a show car and consequently should have a nice boot build. I had no concept or idea of my car being a show car, but having seen what Luke and his team had built for their customers, it was very easy to get excited and be ‘down’ with the stance scene crew,” chuckles Archie. “Having no idea of what the boot build should look like but recognising Luke’s artistry and passion for his work, I basically gave him carte blanche to create whatever he wanted. My only remit was that it had to have something purple.

“What I ended up with is an amazing-looking boot covered in Alcantara and LED lighting, which can be controlled from the car’s dashboard, and Luke even built subwoofer enclosures which pay tribute to Madonna’s 1990s Blonde Ambition tour costume. The car’s air tanks have been covered in purple leather with BMW embossed logos, which are surrounded by honeycomb spaceship lighting. Luke and his team really went to town, and it definitely looks unique,” smiles Archie, and it’s the perfect addition for a build of this standard. The final finishing touch for this epic Eight is the wheels, andwhile it took a while for Archie to settle on his perfect set, he’s absolutely nailed it with his choice. “I had originally replaced my 17” ‘Throwing Stars’ with 18” M-Parallels, but I still felt the arches of the E31 needed to be filled out more with some 19” alloys,” he explains. “I had looked at Vossens and some traditional AC Schnitzers, but when I looked at the slammed/ stance scene, the name Rotiform kept coming up. I liked what Rotiform were doing in terms of giving old-school wheel designs a fresh new look, and when I originally saw my Rotiform LHRs I mistook them for old-school BBS wheels. I wasn’t a fan of BBS wheels, but I thought the deep-dish look of the Rotiform LHRs would look great on the E31,” he says, and he’s not wrong. The LHRs echo the look of the Style 5s that the 8 Series could have originally been specced with, and they suit the car perfectly. Archie was persuaded to go for the bronze centres by one of his sons, and while he still isn’t completely convinced, they work so well with the purple bodywork, and the visual impact these wheels deliver is truly exceptional.

Truly exceptional is the only way to describe this 8 Series because this build really is something else. The attention to detail throughout, the sheer effort and passion that’s been poured into it over the four years that Archie has been working on it all adds up to one of the best Eights we’ve ever seen. But Archie’s not done yet… “Currently, I have an Audison Thesis speaker system that I would like to upgrade to. I’ve used this system in another car, and while the Clarion Full Digital system I have installed now is top-notch, the Audison system takes the sound to another level,” he enthuses. “I’m also planning to get some upgraded steering arms to provide a more responsive steering experience with the car, which, compared to modern cars is quite numb and slow. Additionally, I’d also like to eventually get a Quaife limited-slip differential installed to improve the traction,” he says and that little lot will be keeping him busy for some time to come. And, with no plans to sell, Archie can take his time – owning this car was a dream come true for him, and if you are lucky enough to make one of your dreams a reality, why would you ever let it go?

What I ended up with is an amazing-looking boot covered in Alcantara and LED lighting, which can be controlled from the car’s dashboard, and Luke even built subwoofer enclosures which pay tribute to Madonna’s 1990s Blonde Ambition tour costume

While there had been a few E31s that had been fitted with air suspension before, I wanted to get a system that wasn’t just for the aesthetics of the slammed look. I wanted a system that would enable the car to handle better

Midnight Purple wrap is simply gorgeous, and the bronze centres on the 19” Rotiform LHRs offer the perfect contrast.

Custom interior looks incredible The attention to detail throughout is simply stunning. 4.4-litre V8 has plenty of muscle, and an awesome soundtrack, too…

TECHNICAL DATA 1997 BMW 840Ci Sport Automatic E31

  • ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 4.4-litre V8 M62B44, K&N performance air filter, Magnaflow custom stainless steel quad exhaust system. Five-speed Steptronic gearbox ZF 5HP24
  • MAX POWER 282 hp @ 5900rpm
  • MAX TORQUE 420 N⋅m 310 lbf⋅ft @ 3900rpm
  • CHASSIS: 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) Rotiform LHR custom thee-piece forged wheels with polished stepped lips and bronze mesh centres, 245/30 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres, Accuair E-Level+ air management system with height sensors, Air By Plush ABP custom-made air suspension kit, Brembo four-piston M Performance calipers painted purple with 332mm discs (front), Goodridge Performance zinc-plated braided brake lines
  • EXTERIOR: Comprehensive body restoration with complete rust removal, welding, new side panels, new bonnet and zinc coating of the underbody, full respray in BMW Individual Daytona violet, fully wrapped in Inozetek Midnight Purple, CeramicPro ceramic coating
  • INTERIOR: Seats fully retrimmed in Italian black leather with purple stitching and piping, dashboard, door cards, glovebox and armrest all wrapped in black leather with purple stitching, purple carpet, three-spoke flat-bottom M Tech steering wheel, custom-mounted air-ride controller, custom-built leather armrest with M embossing, custom-built LED illuminated 840Ci door sills, custom-made front and rear heated seats with front and rear controls, rear seat panel with USB/ charging ports, Clarion double-DIN touchscreen head unit, Steelmate Park Assist System with reversing camera, Clarion Full Digital Sound System including 4x 6.5” speakers mounted in custom-built enclosures in kick panels and parcel shelf, tweeters and 10” subwoofers, custom-made Plush Automotive Alcantara boot build with leather-wrapped air tanks, Alcantara subwoofer enclosures and LED display
  • THANKS: Gerry Speechley of Phoenix Motorsport, John Culver at JC Autobody, Linas from DEsignLS Ltd, Luke Massey at Plush Automotive, Reece Turner at RTA Fabrication, and Sean Du Plessis at Monsterwraps
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