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The 8 Series was introduced in 1990 under the E31 model code and was only available as a two-door coupé. It is powered by a range of naturally aspirated V8 and V12engines. The E31 started production just as E24 6 series production ended, however it is not considered a direct successor. It was later discontinued in 1999 due to poor sales. The model range was later reintroduced in 2018 with the second generation, G15 8 series.
Design work of the first generation E31 8 Series began in 1984, with final design phase and production development starting in 1986. The car debuted at the 1989 Frankfurt Motor Show, and was produced until 1999. The 8 Series was designed to move beyond the market of the original E24 6 series, featuring greater performance and an increased price. The 8 Series was the first road car to offer a V12 engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and was one of the first vehicles to be fitted with electronic drive-by-wire throttle. The 8 Series was also among one of BMW's first cars to use a multi-link rear axle.