Above: Original BMW USA marketing promo photograph
The BMW E38 has become a bit of a legend in recent years. It is widely regarded by many enthusiasts as the high point for the automaker’s luxury flagship 7 Series, competing with the Mercedes S-Class and the Jaguar XJ. Many now argue that it is actually one of the best BMW models of all time, peak BMW as it were, and with it's handsome, understated styling and exceptional driving experience, it's not difficult to see why.
The E38 is the third generation of the BMW 7 Series full-size luxury car, produced from 1994 to 2001. It replaced the E32 7 Series and was very much an evolutionary step forward, in typical German fashion at the time. The design is seen as being objectively one of the best ever in the widest sense, not just in terms of BMW. The replacement for the E38, the Chris Bangle styled E65, was bestowed with revolutionary styling, to put it mildly. So smitten were buyers with the E38, when the E65 successor was launched, sales of the E38 actually increased, as did values. While it has it's merits as an individual car, we really didn’t like the brave new style of the E65.
We’re now several generations removed from the E38, but with one look at the collectors market it’s clear to see which period stands out. Today, enthusiasts and collectors alike are willing to pay very good money for a clean, well-looked after E38, and rightly so. It was a striking looking car in the 90's, with its low, flat-nosed hood and wider kidney grills. Few would argue with the assertion that its looks are still handsome and classic to this day.
Although all versions were powerful and fast, what was most impressive about the E38 wasn’t its straight line speed, but rather its handling. With an innovative suspension for the time- forged aluminium, double wishbone control arms, shorter springs and a rear multilink set-up, the E38 handled expertly with impressive levels of grip and composure.
Designer Boyke Boyer was responsible for the concept design of the E38 and that concept was then developed for production by Claus Luthe, the Designer responsible for the revolutionary NSU Ro80 and Volkswagen K70, along with many of the more important Audis. Luthe was a pioneer of aerodynamics and digital design within the automotive industry.
Above: The near mythical NSU Ro80, also designed by Claus Luthe, earlier in his career
The E38 was, apparently, the first road car available with curtain airbags and the first European car to offer satellite navigation. It was also the first BMW to offer an in-built television. This was actually the first 7 Series to be available with a diesel engine (although not here in UK) and the last to be available with a manual transmission. It may have been graced with reassuringly evolutionary styling, but it was still a trail-blazer in terms of technological advancements.
There were several technologically advanced safety features introduced with the E38 (and it's subsequent facelift in 1998), including ASC+T traction control, headlight washers and auto-leveling low beam xenon HID headlamps. Side tubular airbags, referred to by BMW as "Head Protection System", were fitted as standard equipment. 'Active Comfort Seats' were introduced in 1998, to improve comfort and reduce fatigue for the driver and front passenger. This system uses two fluid-filled bladders which alternate in height.
In the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, sixteen E38 cars were used during production and all modified so they could be driven from the backseat, making it appear that Bond actor Pierce Brosnan was controlling the car using his mobile phone.
Above: Still from 'Tomorrow Never Dies', EON Productions, 1997
Used during sequences set in Germany the car came equipped with a security system that sprayed tear gas and delivered electric shocks to intruders. There was also a fingerprint-protected safe hidden behind the passenger airbag compartment. The 750iL could be controlled remotely via Bond's Ericsson cell phone, which flipped open to reveal an LCD display and trackpad. Defense mechanisms included a roof-mounted rocket launcher, self-sealing and re-inflating tyres, a cable cutting device in the front bonnet emblem and a caltrop dispenser under the rear bumper.
It doesn't come with any of the extras fitted to Bond's 750iL unfortunately, but we are very pleased to be preparing an exceptionally handsome 735i for sale. This particular car is one of the facelift models, introduced in the 1999 model year, produced from September 1998.
So this car comes with the revised styling for headlights and tail-lights, as well as the technical update to the M62 3.5 litre V8 engine, featuring variable valve timing on the intake camshaft. It was also fitted with the DSCIII electronic stability control and head airbags. It features a beautiful grey leather interior and the genuine BMW satellite navigation system and TV player.
Our car is in fantastic, stock condition with a reassuring full service history, plus receipts for all of the enhancements and improvements we are making to the car before we offer it to the market. We also have the full DVSA MOT history for the car confirming the low mileage. It also comes with a full pack of owners manuals.
The E38 is already desirable and collectible with surefire classic status- as far as we can tell, there are only 61 licensed in the UK currently and very few will be as clean and well-kept as this one.
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