The original BMW M8 prototype was a remarkable thingMay 22, 2017
Lewis Carroll once wrote that, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take”. BMW must feel similarly about the original M8 supercar prototype.
Back in the ’90s, a skunkworks project was underway deep in the bowels of BMW. The Bavarians were developing a supercar killer that would have more horsepower and a higher top speed than anything from Porsche or Ferrari at the time. It was the BMW M8, a car so secret and so extreme, both the media and the public were unaware of its existence until a decade after it was killed off. The M8 died in its prototype phase, due to BMW brass deeming it too expensive and unable to be profitable. Its demise brings tears to the eyes of BMW fans, who wish such a car would have made it to the road. Once you see what the M8 was, it’s not hard to see why.
Once the first-gen BMW 8 Series debuted, the folks at BMW’s Motorsport Division immediately began figuring out how to make it a proper M supercar. So Paul Rosche would go on to develop a 6.1 liter, naturally-aspirated V12 engine, dubbed the S70, and it would have shamed anything from Ferrari at the time. The mighty V12 packed 549 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque, with 90 percent of its torque being available at just 2,000, impressive for an N/A motor. According to Rosche, an extra large intake system, with beautiful carbon fiber intake manifolds, had to be developed to give it the torque they wanted and it was so bit that they had a hard time fitting the entire thing under the hood. That V12 was paired with a Gertrag six-speed manual gearbox with a 3.15:1 rear-end. According to BMW, the M8 would have been capable of 198 mph, though no official testing was ever done.
The next step was removing a lot of the 8 Series luxurious weight. So the back seats were ditched, the front seats were replaced with lightweight racing buckets with four-point harnesses, all of the leather was replaced with alcantarta and even the pop-up headlights were replaced with fixed ones. This saved quite a bit of weight and would have made the M8 a proper supercar, not just a bruising grand tourer.
On the outside, new aerodynamics were fitted, including tiny little side mirrors, massive air scoops at the rear fenders for engine oil and diff oil cooling and the front end received a new from bumper. It also got new wheels, which were reinforced with carbon fiber making them very light. This was a mean looking 8 Series.
After all of that, though, the BMW M8 was taken to the board for greenlight approval but was shot down. The board realized that it would have cost more than double what a Porsche 911 did at the time and would never sell. It would also cost too much money to develop such a low-volume car. So the M8 died at its prototype stage. What a shame.
Fear not, though, BMW fans. It turns out the Bavarians are bringing the BMW 8 Series back into the fold and an M8 is coming with it. We don’t have any specs or any real official information but just the idea of a BMW M8 is something to get excited about. We’ve seen some spy photos and some teasers from BMW, depicting a very attractive and seductive car. Package its good looks with BMW’s modern lightweight tech and possibly the BMW M760i’s powertrain and we could have something close to the original M8 we’ve always wanted.