Netflix Car Review: The 8 Series From "Deadwind"

Q: Is a 25-year-old BMW a good choice for a daily driver in the frozen north? A: Uh, probably not but whatever.
By Daniel Smith
Cover photo: via Dionysos Films.

Nordic noir is taking over. Ever since people noticed Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy and started demanding more of the same, countless hours and millions of dollars have been poured into making books, films and TV shows with the notoriously ill-defined "Nordic vibe" people expect from everything that's Scandinavian.

One of the latest in the slew of attempts to capitalize on the unquenchable demand for slow-paced TV crime dramas is Deadwind, produced for Netflix and Finnish national broadcaster Yle.

For fans of the genre, it ticks a lot of boxes. There's a brooding detective, struggling with a personal tragedy. What starts as a routine investigation eventually threatens to uncover a conspiracy that spans several countries and has its claws in the machinations of government. It's October, so there's snow everywhere a lot of the time. Exactly what you'd expect from Nordic noir, but nothing that really makes it stand out from the crowd.

Nothing, that is, except for a wonderful BMW E31 8 Series.

Owned by rookie cop (and former drug addict, obviously) Sakari Nurmi, the car — which would have cost north of $100,000 in the early 90s — shuttles lead detective Sofia Karppi around Helsinki, in lieu of a police car or anything else that's actually suited to daily driving in a frozen city. It's a choice of vehicle that feels a little less realistic than, say, those in Trapped, the Icelandic crime drama with a pretty high-octane SUV chase (yeah, really).

It's nice to see some acknowledgment that there can be a dark side to the E31's pretty face

Unlike a lot of shows with great older cars, though, Deadwind doesn't want you thinking classic car ownership is all easy sailing; a key breakthrough in the case is immediately followed by an equally key breakdown in the middle of a field. Though Nurmi has his BMW back on a road a few scenes later with no mention of the catastrophic effect repairing a 25-year-old German high-performance car must have had on his wallet, it's nice to see some acknowledgment that there can be a dark side to the E31's pretty face.

Not that the 8 Series is a complete PITA to own. Regular Car Reviews took a look at a 1991 850i and pointed out that, despite its reputation for unreliability, as long as you're willing to put the work into preemptively changing everything once in a while — or twice in a while, I guess, thanks to the two fuel pumps, two mass flow sensors, two throttle bodies etc. etc. — you should have a car that can comfortably push into six-figure mileage.

Whether that means you should be driving it around all winter, or whether it would make a believable police car, is another question. If you do, though, the smooth cruising engine and retro supercar-esque look could make for a great combination. Everyday driving comfort without sacrificing any poser points.

If you aren't in the mood to totally rearrange your finances to make room for a peevish old 8 Series, Deadwind lets you watch one scurrying around Finland, which is the next best thing. I mean, it's in a very distant second place, but it's still second place. So that's something.

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