Euro cars always hold a special appreciation for me, especially from the 1970s and 1980s. First off, they were much better looking, generally with slimmer bumpers and larger, more clear class lights. There were colors and interiors that we didn’t get in the U.S. as well, helping to set yourself apart. Sometimes there were low-spec engines not imported, but usually the output of the motors that were similar to U.S. cars was higher, giving more performance to enthusiasts. Sometimes that gulf was huge; while usually around 10% higher, a great example is the Quattro which was a full 25% more powerful in Europe than the U.S. restricted version. But as we got towards the late ’80s, the gap inbetween both the looks and performance of the Euro models versus the U.S. models closed steadily. True, in some cases we still didn’t get the full-fat versions of cars like the M3 until the E46 chassis. But for most models, there was a negligible difference. When it came to the BMW E31, in fact, there were almost no differences between the U.S. models and European models; styling was exactly the same, as were the wheels, most of the colors and interiors, and the basic suspension and engine. So, it’s just not nearly as exciting to see a European-spec newer model like this ’91 850i pop up for sale, though it is a bit odd:
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Though they’ve spent the last decade or so sitting unused in the back of the enthusiast dream garage, BMW’s E31 8-series has seen a resurgence in interest and appreciation recently. As the most range-topping coupe BMW’s produced, it took the shark-nose look into the techno era and stands out as an impressively clean design in the face of today’s luxury rhinoceri. This example spent its first 22 years with a single owner in California and has just crossed the 100k mark. It’s no show-stopping 850CSi, but that very fact helps it become one of the cheapest ways to get behind a V12 in the world. Well cared for and showing normal signs of age, it’s sweet example of BMW’s megacoupe that is quickly becoming collectible.
Click for details: 1993 BMW 850i on eBay1 Comment
The question of badges, badge engineering and car’s values are always interesting to me. Obvious car values vary considerably, but some times enthusiasts really gravitate towards one particular year or sub-model within a lineup and choose that model for value. Yesterday’s 1995 M3 raised that point; while it was a neat color and lower mileage with good overall condition, it was the OBD1 status that had some claiming that it should be worth more than later models. In the case of the E31, it’s obviously the big-dog 850CSi that stands out with its BMW Motorsport heritage and build. But let’s say, for argument’s sake, that there was arguably a nicer example of the lesser 850i 6-speed with some light modifications available at the same time – is the M badge that important?
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 850CSI on eBay8 Comments
The numbers would suggest that there are many better performance options than the BMW E31. Even in top-spec CSi trim, there are faster, flashier cars that are available for less – sometimes much less. For example, you could have a much quicker 996 Turbo today for less money than the asking price of most CSis. Indeed, if you’d like to save a lot of money, there are other options too; countless AMG Mercedes, 928s – even a stray E24 M6 will give the CSi a run for its money. But the combination of style, presence and the promise of exclusivity have their own draw much as they do with other notorious under-performers, such as the Grand Touring Ferraris. Can you buy a Corvette that’s faster? Yes, but that’s not the point. However, the CSi is still a lot of money for most people to consider, especially for an occasional car. Back down your expectations a notch, though, and you can get 85% of the CSi if you look in the early 850i 6-speeds:
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 BMW 850i on eBayComments closed
Yesterday, Paul wrote up a very clean, low mile and celebrity-owned 850Ci. There were some serious positives to that example: the condition of that car is pretty spectacular, it has the later M73 5.4 V12 pumping out an extra 40 horspower, it has the better wheels and a great color combination. However, even though this morning’s example has ten times the miles and the condition admittedly is not as good, it also has some things going for it. First off, it’s a 6-speed manual – the package most enthusiasts who want this car would like. Second, unlike the 97’s CSi-high pricetag, this model can be bought on a serious budget if you’re willing to accept some flaws: