1992 BMW 850i 6-Speed

The E31 8-Series is a classic in the making. It was an entirely new car at the time of its debut, quite unlike any other BMW that came before it, and it wasn't immediately followed up with a successor. It stood alone, isolated and practically unrivaled in the 1990s. In fact, the V12 6-speed iterations like this one, besides being extremely rare on an E31, are extremely unusual in any car except for a vintage Ferrari.

The styling by Klaus Kapitza working under Claus Luthe is nothing less than brilliant. It's the ultimate expression of 'the ultimate driving machine', encompassing the shark nose of their past with a bold look to the future. I particularly love the big rear lights that taper to the slim turn indicators up front, it's a cool flow. Laguna Green is a color that will no doubt be looked back upon the same way 70s pea green is - that stereotypical shade of an era, but it's certainly vibrant and looks okay in certain lightning.

The interior is one of BMW's best, and is a revelation today as their current design department throws nearly 50 years of functional, understated design out the window in favor of potpourri-esque over-design. The speedometer overlapping with the tach is a neat touch. Pixels sometimes fade in the digital readouts but it is fixable. Black or grey are preferred but the tan color scheme is fine. I would consider sourcing BMW's non-airbag three-spoke wheel in place of the bloated unit here, because if any BMW deserves that wheel it's this one.

For a while, buyers had just once engine choice in the E31: the M70B50 5.0-liter V12 that pumped out 295 horsepower to the rear wheels. Now that sounds decent on paper, but the problem is that it had to haul over 4,000 lbs. of vehicle, so it wasn't as quick as you'd think, and it was horribly fuel thirsty. On top of that, depending on which owner you asked, it was either an expensive engine to maintain, or an expensive nightmare of an engine to maintain. In 1993 it was supplemented by a V8, but even that had its own set of problems.

Still, if there's an E31 to own, the V12 mated to a 6-speed manual transmission is among the most desirable.

The key things to inquire about on all E31 are maintenance history and accident damage, both of which are pretty easy to find out about. The seller says this one has just 59k miles on the clock and is in excellent condition.

Only around 7,000 E31 ever made it to the US, and much less with the V12-6-speed combo. This one seems clean, but warrants further investigation.

Available here on craigslist for $24,950.

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