Clarion is no stranger to alternative marketing. Or iconic builds. With the Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci, they return with the fifth chapter in a story that began with the rebuilding of an iconic 1974 BMW 2002. From there, they continued with a 1991 Acura (Honda) NSX, a 2004 Subaru WRX, and 2003 Nissan 350Z. This latest chapter features a 1993 BMW 850Ci. Starting with an E31 chassis that was thoroughly ragged out by its previous owner, it was the perfect candidate for a ground up restoration. Under the guidance of Allen H Gharapetian, the company known for their array of aftermarket audio systems, has routinely tried viral marketing that is more than just a slick advertising photo of their latest audio system.
Powered by a radical-by-any-standard 5.0-liter V12, the car was ripe for a Getrag 560G 6-Speed transmission swap, assisted by a reprogrammed ECU module for the six-speed conversion. That got the car going. Stoptech drilled brake rotors were located at the four corners to bring things under control after spirited jaunts wherever they occurred.
The Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci received an attitude adjustment by reducing the altitude of the car, lowering it with new Bilstein B8 Performance Shocks and an Eibach Pro Springs lowering kit.
In the engine room is a BMW V12 engine that produces 300 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm and 330 torques at 4,100 rpm. That’s not the heady amount as seen in BMW’s 2017 M760i, but don’t forget this car was designed and built in the early 1990s.
A Clarion Builds car wouldn’t be worth its curb weight of 4,153 pounds, if it did not include a top line audio system from the parent company. The brain of the operation was a Clarion NX706 head unit with seven-inch high-resolution screen. It worked in-line with a 32 band equalizer that was part of Clarion’s Full Digital Sound (FDS) system. Output was handled by a Clarion Z25W 10-inch Full Digital subwoofer, a mid-range Clarion Z7 Full Digital speaker and Clarion Z7 Full Digital tweeters.
Radical for the time, the BMW 850Ci was a special example of a legendary ride. The fact that there are not many examples left on the road makes the reappearance of this one even more legendary.
Story by Mark Elias. Images by Larry Chen