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BMW 850 CSi and Porsche 928 GT in the driving report: Two German GTs on the way to becoming a classic

Hardy Mutschler
BMW 850 CSi and Porsche 928 GT in the driving report
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E r is not a show-off, and that is exactly his handicap. It's quiet but important. Its inconspicuous elegance becomes a problem that even its authoritarian greatness cannot solve. Despite its 380 hp, the BMW 850 CSi is a silent star that is fighting for recognition.

BMW 850: no bio-bubble

Designer Claus Luthe meant well, the world's best drag coefficient of 0.29 at the time cannot be seen in its predecessor 850i, who led the E31 model series in 1989. It's not a bio-bubble, but a classically beautiful Gran Turismo, serious down to the finely modeled tear-off edge and balanced down to the moving grace of its fully retractable side windows. The unexcited design of the BMW 850 CSi does not reflect its outstanding technical pioneering role. It could be a two-plus-two from Pininfarina, its lines flow so calmly. The Ferrari 456 GT looks like it, it is also a twelve-cylinder. But the Ferrari has transaxle drive like the Porsche 928 with the gearbox on the Rear axle for best traction and neutral cornering.

The BMW 850i has never received the recognition it deserves

No, the original 850i is not based on the third generation of five. No, it is not the successor to the six, but that of the legendary M1 and the futuristic turbo study from 1972, the red double-door flounder in front of the Olympic tent roof. And the eight does not represent the number of cylinders. Okay, there was also a defused 840 Ci with 286 hp - after all, just as much as the M1, in order to relieve the loyal regular customers of the top model with two six-cylinders under the flat, seemingly endless hood. A few prejudices have to give way when one deals intensively with the great unknown.

Around 30,000 eighth-BMWs in ten years were apparently too few to anchor it in the collective memory of car connoisseurs. He did not deserve that. Some say it doesn't have enough space at the back, but a 500 SEC does too. There were convertible prototypes of the BMW 850 - they would have turned the tide, added to the arch-rival Mercedes SL of the 129 series - but BMW hesitated.

The 928 enjoys more prestige than the 850 CSi

The Porsche 928 is the other extreme. Everyone knows him, the anarchist technology revolutionary in polarizing avant-garde design. Porsche chief designer Anatole Lapine drew it much more provocatively and profiled than before the good 924. Some consider the Porsche 928 heretical for the sport version of the AMC-Pacer, others for a new study by Colani. Architects and creative free spirits are delighted, however. You talk about sculpture and about finally retiring your NSU Ro 80. No car quartet, no model car manufacturer, no model shoot, no popular magazine could do without the Porsche 928. The US Playboy even gave away a pink 928 S to the Playmate of the Year in 1983.

The plump Porsche 928 with the aggressive shark mouth was a beacon despite rather restrained criticism. The testers from auto motor und sport found the first 240 HP normal gasoline engine too weak, the wheelbase too short, the rear too narrow, and the aerodynamics too poor despite the fish-shaped silhouette. The hyperactive zeitgeist of the seventies couldn't have looked for a more suitable lifestyle accelerator. Unlike the technically far superior BMW 850, the 928 has its permanent place in the sports car Hall of Fame. Life is not fair.

Porsche 928 fought against the 911

But the Porsche 928 also suffered. For eighteen years he challenged the 911 creatively and constructively, but in the end had to let it go, although in 1992 he himself had narrowly beaten the 964 Turbo with 350 to 320 hp, 500 Newton meters and 5.4 liters displacement. Since 1977 the 928 has been the tragic transaxle hero who fights in vain against the fan wheel of the six-cylinder boxer. Only Porsche himself should, damn it, finally love him like a son of his own, even though his fathers were not called Ferdinand by first name. The BMW 850 shows, almost twelve years after the Porsche 928, what the Bavarians can do. Like Porsche, with the extremely expensive 959 they succeed in a true demonstration of ingenious skill. After the stroke of genius of the first German post-war twelve-cylinder in the 7 Series, Mercedes and Porsche are upgraded.

The eighth also comes with the light and ultra-quiet five-liter engine made entirely of aluminum. Two valves per cylinder and one camshaft per bank are sufficient to generate 300 hp and 450 Newton meters. The M60 shakes the power out of its sleeve without being a drunkard, 15 liters are enough, with the Porsche it's more. Electronic engine management optimizes its efficiency. Only the M variant of the M60 in the 850 CSi breaks the fetters of politically correct sophistication - 380 hp from 5.6 liters of displacement. Spurred on by the tightly stepped six-speed gearbox, the disguised M8 suddenly turns into an animal that starts vehemently over 4,500 tours - unfortunately only to the sealed end station250 km /h.

The 928 is more intrusive than the BMW 850 CSi

The Porsche 928 GT doesn't lock off, but shows what's going on. It is different from the BMW 850 CSi - more intrusive, more daring, has less manners, wears a plump rear spoiler. Acoustically, it shoots off quite a bit even at low speeds. It sounds wonderful and almost a bit dirty - it's not the fine silk of the BMW, but it turns on. The ultra-short-stroke V8 based on the Daimler model with its Elnisil-coated cylinder liners in an aluminum block has for the first time been given an optimized control of the gas exchange with two overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder in the Porsche 928 GT counterpart S4.

Finally there is the 928 as a hemi with the combustion chamber as a hemisphere. The timing belt, the oil pump, the water pump and the two exhaust camshafts remained set in rotation. But a duplex chain helps the stressed rubber band. Driven by the timing belt accelerated exhaust camshafts, it lets the intake camshafts turn lively. In terms of the chassis, the 850 i retires the semi-trailing arm axle that has been typical of BMW for decades. Integral axle is the name of the artful structure with a stiff subframe backbone, which with five transverse and trailing arms allows perfect wheel guidance and, later, on the BMW 850 CSi, even gentle steering.

The last BMW that was developed without considering costs

Even the light, sensitively appealing Weissach The axle of the Porsche 928 is such a multilink construction. The technicians counter the all-wheel drive in the Porsche 928 GT with the classic transaxle principle and limited-slip differential. The equally well-balanced BMW 850 CSi relies on an electronically controlled driving dynamics package, the focus of which is the ASC traction control. As an engineer at BMW, Niels Hamann is responsible for quality assurance and is a true E31 enthusiast. He makes a rousing plea for his brilliant red 92 850 CSi, lined with black Buffalo leather. If you listen to him for a while, you will see the former 180,000 mark car with completely different eyes. 'It is probably the last BMW car that was developed and built regardless of cost.'

Hamann accelerates to over 5,000 tours, tearing through the gears with gentle force. The twelve-cylinder ignites its fire, catapults us forward while we sit in a comfort lounge and the road goes by like a movie. The management consultant Gunther Kussauer uses his Indian red 928 GT as a relaxed highway courier in everyday life. He has been loyal to the large transaxle models from Stuttgart since 1983: 'The Porsche 928, no matter which one, is a fascinating synthesis of design, performance, handling and comfort. It embodies the ideal touring car for two - with a shape that never willages. 'The elegant BMW is an insider tip for fans of understatement. The wild Porsche appeals to the lower instincts of the car enthusiast. It looks cool, comes out brutally from below and sounds so soulful that it runs down your spine. It's a real muscle car, Made in Germany.

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