Market Watch BMW 8 Series E31

Market Watch BMW 8 Series E31

An alluring classic, BMW’s shark-nosed 840Ci coupé is great value, but we’d recommend you stick to the later 4.4-litre model.

Words: Guy Baker


Our expert takes a look at the used E31 8 Series market

Instantly recognisable, BMW’s 1990s 8 Series grand tourer provides a hefty dose of elegance and panache, and if you find a well-fettled 4.4-litre 1996- on 840Ci, then you could enjoy years of dependable retro V8 motoring in an appreciating classic. Boasting better reliability than a thirsty 850 V12 or an original 4.0-litre M60-engined 840, the 1996-1999 M62 4.4-litre 840Ci is just as stylish – with its pillarless side profile and classic pop-up headlights – and great value too.

BMW 840 Ci UK-spec E31

BMW’s E31 8 Series aspired to be the ultimate in high-tech GT luxury when it was launched in 1990. And packing a potent new V12 that had first appeared in the 7 Series, BMW hoped to establish itself at the very top of the automotive tree. More expensive and even better equipped than the 6 Series, BMW’s 850i coupé was rightly acclaimed as the ultimate continent cruiser.

But despite being fast, lavishly appointed and effortless to drive, that V12 motor had an insatiable thirst, leading to slower-than-expected sales. So in 1992, BMW introduced a lower-priced 840Ci V8 version, with the 850i becoming the 850Ci. This M60B40-powered model was more fuel-efficient, but owners soon started to report Nikasil bore-wear issues, so in late 1995 BMW replaced this V8 engine with a new, more reliable M62B44 unit, which also possessed greater torque.

Interior BMW 840 Ci UK-spec E31

Needless to say these early M60-engined versions are cheaper to buy, but only the brave should consider splashing out on one – and then only with an engine that has been properly rebuilt. We’d recommend you stick to the 1996-on M62 4.4-litre model, however, whose 4398cc V8 produces 286hp at 5700rpm and a meaty 310lb ft of torque at 3900rpm.

Original buyers had the choice of a six-speed manual and a five-speed automatic transmission, with both offering 155mph potential and a 6.2-second 0-62mph time. A Sport version arrived in early 1997 with a body kit and lowered suspension, and as well as the standard model, you’ll also come across a handful of cars with Individual spec, with exclusive colours and optional extras like contrasting seat piping.

Whilst many earlier leggier cars require some serious TLC (and invariably don’t make wise buys), the very finest examples of the later M62-engined 840Ci coupé are gently appreciating, so you should buy the best example you can afford. Many cars advertised for sale nowadays are private, or auction buys, and these inevitably carry more risk than buying from a reputable dealer. This can be substantially reduced by sticking to 840Cis with pristine provenances and paying for a thorough specialist vehicle inspection before agreeing on any price.

Individual models have a special allure, like this Royal red metallic 1999 840Ci Sport we spotted for sale at Old Colonel Cars ( in St. Albans. With just 66,000 miles on the clock, it’s a stunning example and appears to be in A1 condition. As well as a Champagne extended leather interior, with piped seats and deep pile black carpet, and superb-looking 18” alloys this car also comes with a full history file. Priced at £29,995, there should still be a little wiggle room for negotiation, but don’t expect too much. It’s a late-plate UK car that’s spent much of the last 12 years garaged in Portugal, and it comes with a full BMW dealer and specialist service history.

Just under 30 grand seems to be the going rate right now for the very best examples – with this slightly older 1997 Black II 840Ci Sport E31 – for sale at 4Star Classics (4starclassics. com) in Hampshire – also stickered at £29,995. With an even lower 56,580 miles, this immaculate car boasts light silver/grey Nappa leather upholstery, the full Sport packages, 17” Style 5 split-rim alloy wheels, Individual anthracite headlining, heated front seats, an electric sliding sunroof and cruise control. And the underside has benefitted from a professional Dinitrol underseal and cavity wax. But you can find equally appealing similarly low-mileage examples for less – like this Arctic silver 1998 840Ci Sport we discovered at Centurian Automotive ( in Northamptonshire, priced at £23,997. This three-owner example has been in storage for the last seven years and has covered just 53,793 miles.

Assuming you steer clear of the original M60 4.0-litre V8, then rust is the biggest potential problem when buying an 840Ci, so check everywhere – especially around the front spoiler, bonnet, brake pipes, wheel arches, jacking points, the front windscreen, door bottoms and around the sunroof.

Upholstery problems, like worn seat bolsters, are all repairable and ignore the ubiquitous ‘sealed for life’ automatic transmissions statement – get a good independent or automatic transmission specialist to change the fluid for you every 100k miles. The electronics can go wrong, so test everything thoroughly, while other potential issues include worn suspension components, failed wiper motors, worn inlet manifold pressure control valves, leaking water pumps and loose timing chain tensioners – which really need replacing every 100,000 miles or so.

Most owners keep their E31 looking pretty standard, but brakes, suspension, alloys, and lighting are all easily upgraded, while de-catted M62s with a re-mapped ECU and improved manifolds can produce up to 340hp. Beyond that, you’d be looking at different cams or forced induction, but E31 owners tend to shy away from these options.

Total BMW Retail Price Guide

  • POOR: Under £12,000
  • GOOD: £12,000 to £22,000
  • EXCELLENT: £22,000+
  • SPECIAL EDITIONS: Low-mileage Individual cars can fetch over £28,000


I’m very grateful to Grant Darling at James Paul (, the BMW Car Club of Great Britain (bmwcarclubgb. uk), British Car Auctions (, Silverstone Auctions (silverstoneauctions. com),, Redish Motorsport ( and Glass’s ( for their help with this feature.

Recent E31 840Ci Sport Coupé Auction Prices*

  • Model Transmission Registration Year Mileage Sale Price
  • 840Ci Sport Auto 1996 64,000 £19,244
  • 840Ci Sport Auto 1997 91,000 £17,438
  • 840Ci Sport Auto 1997 15,000 £28,125
  • 840Ci Sport Auto 1997 51,000 £20,500
  • 840Ci Sport Auto 1998 38,000 £29,350
  • 840Ci Sport Auto 1999 116,000 £10,688

*Sale prices of good-condition examples sold recently at classic car auctions

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