Off radar

The Fallen Stars
BMW M8 Prototype

Too extreme to be true

Photo credit: BMW, Wheelsage

The M8 Prototype, built in 1990, is one of the most mysterious cars in the history of motoring, having remained hidden for 20 years until 2010 when BMW decided to show it to selected journalists. 

The 6,064cc V12 engine of the BMW M8 that produced 550hp and was used as the starting point for the development of the McLaren F1 engine, released in 1992

Based on the 8 Series E31, it was equipped with a 6,064cc V12 engine called S70, capable of producing somewhere in the region of 550hp, and from which the engine of Gordon Murray’s McLaren F1 (S70/2) was derived. 

The 1990 M8 Prototype was greatly lightened through the use of composite materials. The appearance is decidedly racing-inspired

Compared to the 850i, the M8 was enlarged at the rear to make room for larger wheels and allow better cooling to the differential, while the front was redesigned to improve aerodynamics with a rounded hood to accommodate the large V12 engine. 

The enlarged rear to accommodate wider section tires, does not differ stylistically from the standard production car

To reduce weight, carbon fibre was chosen for the bodywork, while the doors, hood, trunk and bumpers were made from reinforced polymer. The interior was also put on a diet with the introduction of sports seats and carbon and kevlar for the dashboard.

A decidedly racing-oriented interior with the entire dashboard made of carbon fibre and Kevlar, always looking for weight reduction

No performance figures were ever given as BMW management blocked the project fearing poor sales and revenues that would not pay off the investments needed for production. As a result, the M8 remained a gloriously savage one-off.

On the track the car unleashes its full potential, putting down 550hp in complete safety
The elegant charm of BMW combined with extreme performance is clear in this photo of the M8 Prototype