Buy/Drive/Burn: V12 Luxury Coupes to Drain Your Wallet in 1993

buy drive burn v12 luxury coupes to drain your wallet in 1993

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 850Ci

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.

Jaguar XJS

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 SEC

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. 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]

Join the conversation
2 of 65 comments
  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Oct 05, 2018

    LSX swap into all of them

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Oct 08, 2018

    I always liked the 8 series and you can get in a manual= buy My folks had a 1995 W140 S320 they bought used around 1998. It was a good car in I-6 form, it would have been better with the V8 or V12. The last MB built to a standard, not a price. Drive the Mercedes, because the BMW would be a better driver. Not a huge fan of the styling of the MB in coupe form though. Burn the Jag. I don't have much love for these cars, but if the right one showed up...

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.