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Retro

Manhart has built an E39 M5-powered BMW 8 Series

Shame about those wheels, but everything else? Oof, this is Nineties BMW heaven

Published: 21 May 2024

BMW never officially made an M-powered version of its gorgeous E31 8 Series. There was a prototype - that fabulous V12-engined prototype – but nothing you could buy. Manhart, an enthusiastic tuner of BMWs, has decided to remedy that by writing its own page in the E31’s story some 35 years later.

And it has written it via the medium of V8. And not just any V8, but the big boy used in the E39 BMW M5. Yup, no need to critically appraise that car now, just keep repeating the model code and you’re sure to win any car-based argument.

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“Since the early days of the company,” says, um, the Manhart company, “it has been our credo to equip and upgrade BMW models with more modern and more powerful engines from the Bavarian manufacturer’s portfolio than were conceivable for the base vehicle from the factory.”

So out goes the 850i’s 5.0-litre V12 and its 300-odd relaxed horses, and in comes the 5.0-litre V8 from the E39 M5 – that’s the S62B50, BMW engine code enthusiasts! – here punching out a rather healthier 414bhp. That’s matched to a full stainless steel Manhart exhaust said to offer a “low frequency rumble”.

More power means more brakes. Manhart's restoration of the E31 includes bigger discs up front (340mm) and four-piston calipers, together with rather excellent Bilstein B6 dampers matched to H&R lowering springs all round – yer classic Nineties BMW suspension upgrade, that. Apparently, “all axle parts were blasted and refurbished as part of the restoration”.

Bodywise, there’s the “beefier” front skirt from the 850CSi, M door mirrors and a small lip spoiler on the boot. Inside, it’s… quite magnificent. Everything you touch and sit on has been given a once over: new leather everywhere, new stitching, a new steering wheel cover fashioned from Alcantara. Ditto the headlining. And the rear shelf and pillar panelling.

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Yes, those 20in wheels aren’t… the best, if we’re honest, but set those aside and this appears to be a rather delectable upgrade on one of BMW’s finest ever designs. Manhart is churning out just five of these ‘MH8 5.0 V8’ models, with prices on application. Expect it to be ‘much’, considering it’s an M-powered version of the gorgeous E31 8 Series.

Photography: Manhart

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