It’s a very modern-sounding recipe for a high-performance coupe. As it happens, the prototype in question is nearing its 30th birthday. The definitive super-GT of 2017 – the Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupe – is scarcely any more powerful with 577bhp, which means our dead-on-arrival two-door was so far ahead of its time the world just wasn’t ready for it.
Perhaps that’s why its maker, BMW, canned the project. There was no market, it reckoned, for such an exotic, powerful and, one assumes, expensive GT car in the economically depressed early '90s. More’s the pity, the M8 never was.
The E31 BMW 8 Series – the luxurious coupe the M8 mule was based upon – was launched in 1989, edging the Bavarian marque into a territory it hadn’t explored for several generations: that of the very high-end grand tourer. In many ways the 8 Series was a groundbreaking car, what with it having been designed using state-of-the-art CAD techniques at a time when most cars were still being sketched, and also for its clever five-link rear suspension in place of more conventional semi-trailing arms.
The steering column adjusted electronically – it did on good days, at least – and the boot latch was motorised. Then there was the drive-by-wire throttle and the electronic dampers and, of course, the unusual climate control system that allowed the driver to set one temperature and the passenger a different one altogether. The 8 Series was, in its day, a very modern machine.