While it did supplant the original 6
Series in 1991, a common misconception is that the 8 Series was
developed as a successor. However, it was actually an entirely new
class aimed at a different market, with a substantially higher price
point and better performance than the 6 series. The 8 Series was
designed as a direct competitor to the upcoming Mercedes-Benz
SL-Class and S-Class coupes. While it has less rear passenger volume
than the CL which is considered a two-door sedan, the 8 Series could
accommodate two passengers in the rear, while the Mercedes SL
roadster is a two-seater.
The BMW 8 Series was BMW's flagship car while in production. A new
vehicle cost around US$100,000 and had an electronically limited top
speed of 155 mph (250 km/h), although with the limiters removed top
speed was estimated at 186 mph (299 km/h). Worldwide production
ceased May 12, 1999, with 30,621 built.