They’re big, expensive, luxurious, and have 12 cylinders sitting under their long hoods. All of them will deplete your checkbook in multiple ways, but you can only take one home with you.
What’s it gonna be?
BMW’s brand new 8 Series stormed onto well-funded driveways for the 1990 model year. The premium coupe offering from the Roundel brand, the 8 Series was without a predecessor. In development since 1981, BMW spent around $1 billion to get the new coupe just right. 8 Series cars were powered by V8 or V12 engines between 4.0- and 5.6-liters in displacement. BMW released the top of the line 850i version first, powered by a 5.0-liter V12 shared with the 7 Series sedan. Featuring drive-by-wire throttle and a six-speed manual, the 850Ci managed 296 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The 8 Series was a middling sort of expensive, asking $83,400.
Certainly the oldest car here, Jaguar’s XJS launched in its original format in 1975. Revisions arrived for the 1982 model year, followed by a major refresh for the model’s final variant in 1992. Revised front and rear fascias, a modernized interior, and new engine choices brought the XJS into the Nineties. On offer were Jaguar’s new 4.0-liter inline-six and V12 engines of 5.3- or 6.0-liters of displacement, depending on the year. 1993 was the debut of the largest V12, paired to a four-speed automatic for the North American market. This gentleman’s express featured 318 horsepower and 336 lb-ft of torque. At the time, the XJS was the cheapest of our trio by a wide margin at $59,750.
Mercedes-Benz 600 SECÂ
The brand new W140 series S-Class took the world by storm for the 1992 model year, replacing the frankly epic W126 sedan and coupe. Available from the get-go in North America, what would eventually become known as the S500 and S600 Coupe carried 500 SEC and 600 SEC labels for ’92 and ’93.Â All engines for the coupe were of eight or 12 cylinders, the former being the 5.0-liter M119 engine, and the latter the 6.0-liter M120. The V12 was always matched to a five-speed automatic transmission, which restrained 389 horsepower and 347 lb-feet of torque. By far the most advanced and expensive car here, the 600 SEC asked a whopping $132,000.
Three price points and 36 total cylinders. Which one is worth buying?
[Images: Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, BMW]