A BMW 850Ci That’s Actually An E63 M6

The E31 BMW 8 Series Coupe was built for 10 years from 1989 until 1999, and according to my research, 30,621 units were sold.

Precisely 24 of these hand-built modern classics were assembled at BMW’s Rosslyn plant in South Africa. The reason for this was tax related; it was cheaper putting the cars together there, than importing them into SA. More than two-thirds were fitted with the V12, and just four came with a 6-speed manual transmission.

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This particular car wasn’t one of the 24 locally-assembled cars; it was imported by the owner from the UK in full stock trim. Being an 850Ci variant, it was originally fitted with the 5.4L M73B54 V12, which produced 322hp and 490Nm.

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The BMW’s stock form was very short lived in the hands of its new South African owner. Driving the 850 for the first time, he was left disappointed with the V12’s sluggish and uninspiring performance compared to modern cars. That sparked an idea…

Working with Wessel at Motor Cade Motorsport in Bellville a wicked plan was hatched, one that would give the 850Ci a new lease on life with E63 M6 underpinnings.

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From the outside, the car doesn’t look too different from the way it left the factory, but if you look carefully you can easily see the changes. Automatic Xenon headlights were retrofitted into the existing housings, automatic rain-sensing wipers replace the originals, and OEM rear park assist sensors were installed into the bumper along with a rear-view camera.

The stock mirrors were replaced with fully-functional heated electric M6 items – two of many parts swapped over from an E63 donor car.

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That includes the entire M6 drivetrain, including the electronic differential, along with the front and rear suspension featuring electronic dampers. Driving assists such as ABS and traction control were also coded to work flawlessly.

As you might expect, this wasn’t a simple job. Extensive surgery was required, and along the way new floors and custom-built suspension braces were fitted.

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Once you get inside, you really feel like you’re in an M6, and a modded one at that. The 850 dash was completely removed and an original E63 dash was cut and trimmed to fit perfectly.

There’s carbon fiber everywhere, including on the M6 multi-function steering wheel with electric tilt.

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Every single function and electronic module the M6 came with has been programmed to work in the 850, including the start/stop button, auto windows, cruise control and even the heads-up display system.

Wessel also installed the much newer NBT version of BMW’s iDrive system, with performance gauges, navigation and automatic climate control.

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Lastly, the door panels and seats were retrimmed, the latter retaining their power and heating functions.

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Getting the S85 V10 engine from the M6 to fit and work was one of the biggest challenges, both physically and from a technical standpoint. To accommodate the motor, the firewall had to be cut and a custom steel bonnet had to be built.

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Although the donor engine was in good condition, Wessel wanted to ensure there’d be no trouble down the line as S85s are known to run bearings, even at relatively low mileage.

The motor was completely rebuilt with forged pistons, forged con-rods, and race bearings. A full exhaust was also built for the car, to help let the V10 sing. Final power output is a dyno-measured 493hp and 491Nm.

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To put the power to the wheels, the standard M6 7-Speed SMG gearbox was used, and it works flawlessly. A manual M6 gearbox would’ve really made this car insane, but they were only offered in North America from 2007 onwards, in very limited numbers, so finding one would’ve been almost impossible.

Nonetheless, the SMG box makes driving really easy. The 850 was meant to be a cruiser anyway, so an auto box suits it just fine in my opinion.

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The wheels are 20-inch Vossen CV5s in a machined matte graphite finish, and wrapped up in Falken Azenis FK458 tyres, 255/30R20 up front and 295/25R20 out back. For improved stopping power, M6 discs and calipers were fitted front and rear.

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This build took hundreds of hours to complete, but if you look at the car and take a spirited drive in it, you can see how it’s been totally worth it. And further to that, Wessel said that if you took this car to a BMW dealership, you could service it just as you would any other E63 M6.

The owner of the car has enjoyed it for some good time now, but he’s looking at some new projects and doesn’t want this car to just sit, so he’s put it up for sale. I’m sure it won’t go cheap, but whoever snaps this up will definitely be getting something awesome.

Stefan Kotzé
Instagram: stefankotzephoto
info@stefankotze.com
www.stefankotze.com

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1

Insane build and such a classic shape. A manual gearbox would of been the icing on the cake, would of made this build mental

2

At first i thought it is sacrilege to switch V12 for V10 . Rims really not fit for this classic shape of car, also dont like darked rearlights.
But what a project. What a craftsmanship. Hats down for amount of work to everythings from M6 works in this car. Insane build.

3

I fee the exact same way. 100% stock exterior is soooo good it’s almost impossible to improve in haha

4

Awesome build , and from Cape Town South Africa!!!!!
Great article Stefan !

5

Cool car, the swap looks really nicely done. Let's be honest though, the styling is gopping. I'd maybe argue that 7 M badges might be too many.

6

I know the conventional wisdom is that the E30 is the greatest of all BMWs, but the 850 is and always will be my favorite. It's sleek and sexy and the first BMW I ever actually wanted to own, especially with the V12 stick combo.

Now granted, the 850's shot through with the usual slipshod German engineering and rookie automaker mistakes, but I don't care.

I love it anyway.

7

Thinking of the amount of work needed to pull this off nearly gave me an anxiety attack lol. Props to the shop that built this thing

8

Outstanding craftsmanship, but some odd aesthetic choices (mirrors and wheels look totally out place on that body).
And what about those ///M headrests looking cheap AF.

9

Aesthetics?

Watch the Regular Car Reviews episode on this car where the opening narration goes, "Nice third-gen Supra."

10

The tyres/rim combo reminds me of those on Hotwheel die-cast.
All in all, the "transplant" was superbly executed. It turns head better than any new BMW.

11

This swap makes so much sense! Better engine, check; better weight distribution, check. I wonder why we see so many S62 in E30s when they should be in E31s. But honestly those wheels make my eyes bleed...

12

Imagine if BMW made an M8 back in the day with the V12 or even the V10

13

They should have. The current "M8" should be just called 840Ci or 845Ci.

14

Stefan,

Wow! Thatnis one "badass-looking" Bimmer! I love the interior and I like the wheels too. Instead of swapping in a V10 could he not have built the V12 to the same specs and gotten more power? Just asking...Overall, really incredible machine. A guy near me in New Jersey has a stock 850 with a V12. And it only gas 70K on it.

15
thathellastockusdm3rdgenyaris@instagram

i dunnoooo...

16

Wow amazing transplant!I love it when people go full stop and just gut all the running gear in favor of newer better equipment, especially using modern infotainment! The only thing I’m not a huge fan of here is that, to my eye, the exterior doesn’t look as nice as stock )-8 Everytime I see an 8 series in person I’m reminded how classic the wedge shape is, but with the car here I don’t get those same vibes ... probably because the pop ups are up in so many shots and the wheels have super sport vibe not the classic roller vibe.

Man what a cool car

17
thathellastockusdm3rdgenyaris@instagram

WOW DONT STOP THERE, DONT FORGET TO SWAP THE SEATS OUT WITH BMW V10S ALSO, AND ALSO DONT FORGET TO CHANGE THE GASTANK TO A BMW V10, ALSO DONT FORGET TO SWAP A YOUR WIFE FOR A BMW V10 MANUAL BECAUSE SHE DOESNT COME WITH A STICK SHIFT ATTACHED 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

18

Refresh my memory.

Does BMW mean Bang My Wife or Break My Wallet?

19
Katherine J. Richardson

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20
thathellastockusdm3rdgenyaris@instagram

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21

8 series are way too cool for school. they had car phones for f's sake!

22

okay, so add the car phone back xD

23

I was fine with this, until we got to the wheels. May it be the old man in me, but I have never understood with the obsession of having rubber band sized tires on massive wheels. I always grew up on you needed sidewall to flex and give support for better cornering. Maybe times have changed but first thing I would do with that car is drop the wheels to 18's at the biggest.

24

The main problem with those modern wheels is the lack of dish. Notice how seemingly all modern wheels have a face that's basically a disk, in plane with the rim? Supposedly it's done for aerodynamics, but It seems like every line, surface and curve that makes a vehicle look good was put there over the express objection of the aerodynamicists attached to the project.

25

The craftsmanship of this build is just incredible, us mere mortals can't even deal with the electronics in a stock BMW, and this guy (or gal) swaps all the electronics in a modern BMW into and old one and EVERYTHING WORKS! Sorry I'm losing my mind here. Also, E31s probably have the weirdest hoods ever, they literally have two hole in them for the headlights lol.
Greetings from Canada :)

26

It's frightening to see the humongous snout on today's BMW. Bigger means better, to the engineers I guess.

The snout on this old skool 850Ci looks fitting and tucked nicely to the bumper design.

27
thathellastockusdm3rdgenyaris@instagram

thats because they need a giant nose.

28

I won't bother myself checking my account balance, sure I'm way behind the asked price.
Apart form some aesthetics, which are always personal, I doubt this car will get any hate even from purists. And according to my knowledge, converting an SMG to manual is relatively easy.

29
Juergen S als sealion.ttv

That,s absolutly great BMW work really like it <3

30

What a project! I'm wondering that if somebody can build a E46 with S58 and IDrive,that must be very cool

31

Wow, I didn't know that someone actually made my wildest idea into reality!

32

Amazing build and attention to detail. It just needs some BBS wheels to finish it off

33

Beautiful car and beautifully executed swap, both interior and mechanically. So many of these swaps aren't well integrated, but this looks factory and it sounds like it all works properly too. Well done!

It needs different wheels though. They just don't fit the car...at all. Smaller wheel, more sidewall, and maybe a slight drop would make it perfect (for me at least).

34

This is an awesome build. Props to the builder. Looks fast standing still to me.

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