Michael Jordan’s 1991 BMW 850i is up for auction


One of the most iconic BMWs of the 1990s, formerly owned and driven by basketball superstar Michael Jordan, has popped up on the auction site Bring A Trailer
Michael Jordan once owned this sleek and rare 1991 BMW 850i. It’s now up for auction. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRING A TRAILER

Even better, Michael Jordan’s sleek and spotless beemer, also known as an “E31,” only shows a tick over 30,000 miles on the clock after 33 years.

Following the introduction of the M1 supercar at the end of the 1970s, BMW entered the 1980s on a tear, selling countless 328i spinners and M-series sleepers that gave American and European performance cars fits and seemed to fulfill BMW’s “ultimate driving machine” slogan.

As the heady 1980s came to a close, the 1990s began with a new pinnacle of the BMW line: the 8-series machines, powered by a 4.0-liter V8 in the 840 variant and a nearly 300 horsepower 5.0-liter V-12 in the 850.

The cars were an early product of Computer Aided Design (CAD) efforts by BMW and also featured an electric “drive by wire” throttle, another rarity that’s now common in many cars.

The 840 and the 850 stood out from the other BMWs of the 1990s with their graceful design, which tapered down to a slanted nose and concealed eyebrow-type pop-up headlights that called back to the M1 from the decade before. The lack of a B-pillar augmented the sleek lines.

Offered only as two-door coupes, the 840 and 850 actually sat four people in well-appointed style and luxury. In 2017, car enthusiast publication Petrolicious produced this beautiful video homage to the 850:

But persistent fueling issues with the early V12s marred its reputation, and this was before the days of cheap and easy firmware flashes to fix bugs.

The 8 series cars, despite their sporty profiles, were heavy, and while power was robust, they were not the hot rods some thought they should be. BMW envisioned the 8 series as sporty but plush “grand touring” or “GT” cars with long legs built for the open road, not the drag strip.

Available with a then-rare six-speed stick shift, many may have thought otherwise and were disappointed. They are reportedly excellent driving cars, and some German market models even had 4-wheel steering.

The vehicle also has a sizable trunk.

The V-12 eventually grew to 5.6 liters and nearly 400 horsepower—supercar power at the time—but in 1999, BMW quietly shut off the lights on the 8 series, and only 1,510 of the final top-spec “S70” 850CSI models like the model in the video above were produced.

For a while, the 840 and 850 seemed lost to time—and were bargains when found.

In 2014, the lines of the 850’s spiritual successor, the exotic i8 hybrid, paid clear homage to the 850 of old—and interest in the 1990s halo car began to climb. In 2018, BMW revived the 8-series line, but the new cars didn’t seem to have the handsome, standout style of the 840/850.

Today, clean 850s commonly sell for over $100,000.

Mr. Jordan’s cerulean blue 850i, sold at some point to an apparently conscientious but unnamed caretaker, is largely stock, except for some aftermarket AC Schnitzer wheels and Magnaflow exhaust.

The interior is swaddled in tan surfaces, and the seats are gorgeous cream-colored leather. The interior appears to be unmolested right down to the stock BMW cassette deck in the center stack.

The expensive optional CD changer is present in the trunk.

Illinois legal documents showing the car was owned by Jordan and signed by the Chicago Bulls legend are preserved in a frame. The Illinois license plate reads “M AIR J,” and one photo on the auction site shows the car parked outside the “23” gate of Jordan’s home.

As of publication, bidding stood at just over $60,000 with four days left until the auction closes.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

More from Forbes Life