More tech than ever before.
by Gunnar Heinrich ::: img via eBay ::: 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost
JUDGING from a brief tour behind the helm of one Ghost back in 2010, I found myself to be a fan. It’s a posh, plush, thoroughly modern chariot. That having been said, I’m not sure that I’m thrice the fan of the Ghost than I am the F01 generation BMW 750Li. But a lot can change in a year. Namely the price…
by Gunnar Heinrich ::: YouTube ::: img Sara (1997) via IMCDB ::: BMW e32 7 Series
PRECIOUS little’s written of the BMW e32 7-Series (1986-1994).
What’s online, generally, is content posted by owners that enthusiastically showcase their 735i’s aftermarket performance mods or 750iL’s 0-60 time on YouTube. Fine ‘n dandy, but none of these casual entries really do justice to the vintage e32 7er – a sharp, powerfully understated sedan with true Continental swagger.
Truth is – BMW’s e32 stands as one of the best model lines ever to roll off the line at Dingolfing.
When the second generation 7er debuted in 1986, the über-saloon launched the Roundel well into the 90s with pioneering technology and engineering that set the benchmark for performance in the luxury sedan market.
An ungoverned 750i/iL could sail past Mercedes’ 560SEL to 185 mph. At the time, that was no small feat.
Auto, Motor und Sport via Fuenfkommasechs.de
Catch is – the e32 started the industry trend towards a heavy reliance on electronics that’s hurt the model’s longevity. Good, functioning examples of 735i/iL, 740i/iL, and certainly 750iLs are increasingly rare due to high running costs. In particular, repairs of the 750iL’s 5.0 Liter, 300 horsepower V12, Germany’s first automotive 12 cylinder engine since the Weimar, are notorious for being Jaguar-involved and costly.
Still, sterling examples expertly showcase Bavarian road-going finesse and classic Teutonic taste. All the more reason that more should be written on the great e32.
By Gunnar Heinrich | YouTube
DERIVING an odd pleasure from watching one of my all-time favorite cars – the e38 generation BMW 7-Series – receive punishing treatment through the course of an uncaring production, I thought I’d share with you this action short from the BMW Films collection.
Ambush, directed by John Frankenheimer, features Clive Owen as a cool tempered driver and Tomas Milian as a frightened passenger (Mr. Milian played General Salazar in Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic) in a low-on-plot chase thriller that’s set in a series of anonymous locales.
Not quite as epic as Guy Ritchie’s M5 flick, Star, Frankenheimer does this piece an adequate justice. For the car’s part, the 740i’s performance shines. The last of the great sharks.
FIRST impressions are hard to get past, although this Seven will give you reasons to try.
The appearance of this car did not evoke the “Gee I’d like to have one of those,” response. Instead, I thought, “Christ, this thing is giant.” And it makes up for its size – in ugly.
Size is a large part of this new Seven’s stylistic challenge. And this begs the question: when something, anything is overly large isn’t it the designer’s job to help lighten its appearance? Lend it a little grace?
That just hasn’t happened here.
The high beltline actually makes the sedan’s profile look taller and fatter. Why on Earth would BMW borrow this styling element directly from their least expensive car – the One – and use it on their new flagship?
I wouldn’t mind necessarily, but the aesthetic faux-pas looks lousy on the baby Bimmer, too.
Too big is sometimes just that. And the length of the car consists of a mass of cutlines that do nothing shrink this boat, visually. Even this model’s predecessor, portly though it was, somehow managed to look lighter on its feet.
Look, I know how popular it has been in recent years to pick on BMW styling.
On the other hand, perhaps there’s good reason to do so.
Has BMW now become the least homologous line of cars out there? The One and the Seven now look similar and I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing.
The Six looks like no other car in the lineup, as is true with the Ugly Five and the beautiful Three.
BMW’s rivals have a smart visual continuity in their lineups which makes any Audi look like an Audi and any Benz look like a Benz. Damned If I can say that about BMW’s family.
Back to the Seven. The interior, while clearly well done, is a bit cold in its presentation. It’s sort of fussy industrial, rather than warmly inviting. There are acres of cow, dark wood and shiny metal. And despite all this luxurious gluttony, the cabin still remains uninviting.
All that mass and all that ugly disappear when you drive this car.
Simply put, it’s got tons of power. Just a few minutes in the twisties and you’re left feeling totally comfortable flinging it into and powering out of every turn. You would not find a stick shift out of place here at all, if BMW offered one.
High praise indeed.
The new 750Li provides a terrific, engaging, driving experience that you would never tire of.
But the car does present us with the automotive equivalent of choosing to marry an ugly partner because they’re great in bed. It’d be a thinking person’s move, but still, as thoughtful individual you’d still have to get past that first impression.
Richard Wolf is a Connecticut based architectural designer and owns an E39 gen. M5. We featured Richard in both our BMW Enthusiast and Lime Rock segments that aired on CPTV. In the past, Richard has owned three 7er’s: two E23 gen. 733i’s and one (magnificent) E32 gen. 735i.
THERE is no blue moon to light your progress tonight.
only Xenons’ gaseous blue…
is there to pierce the night’s mist.
Stationary, you appraise all those details.
There are so many.
Lines, curvatures, creases, technological bits.
Only somehow the presence of water magnifies them.
The air’s humidity reflects engineered light well…
making the atmosphere appear damp and electric all at once.
You’ll note that this generation 7-Series is within a half inch
the length of a W140 S-Class Benz.
And in order to move that bulk,
the 750Li’s Twin-Turbo V8 makes 407 horsepower.
Not that any of these horses are being used at the moment.
It’s just you, the car, the dampness of the air, and another car
whose helpful source of light lets you soak it all in.
The rear door’s sun blinds reflect man made light, nicely.
There are just so many facets to this 7.
So much technology. So much that’s new and different and unique to
this 2009 flagship. So much of it foreign to those Bavarian
standard bearers that served before.
Helpfully, there are genealogical cues to clue you into the heritage…
even if that heritage may seem lost at moments
in the incongruity of some flamed surfaces…
you nevertheless recognize that the past is still very much in the present.
The facelifted Sonderklasse
By Gunnar Heinrich
LOOKING forward to this freshened, nip ‘n tucked 2009 S-Class, we anticipate the first true refit of the flagship Mercedes-Benz that’s been with us since 2005. And while we analyze its various alterations we can draw on the marque’s history to note that what we’re looking at is – in point of fact – just more of the same.
Cryptic? Follow me…
As avantgarde as any one of the German three – for our purposes Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz – may seem in any one of their product’s given lifecycles, the marques a) copy eachother relentlessly while manage to be b) retain their own character.
A large part of this is inbreeding is doubtless due to the fact that all three car makers are going to the same parts suppliers – Bosch, Beru, Bilstein, and so on…
But ever distantly follow an early 80s Mercedes-Benz (W126) S-Class only to discover what you’re tailing is actually a (E28) BMW 7-Series? The two three-box sedans share very similar architecture.
The baddies drive a Benz 500SEL and a BMW 733i in Beverly Hills Cop
Or how about mistaking an early 90s Audi Quattro for a Mercedes-Benz (W124) E-Class? And perhaps going cross eyed at the ungainly similarity between the current S-Class and the previous (E65/66) 7er bulbous booties?
There is such a thing as a common Teutonic element. Or it may just be systemic lethargy.
Mercedes designers clearly liked what’s been going on at Ingolstadt and Munich. And for the purposes of time management we’ll just consider the common elements found in the ’09 S-Class’ redone headlamps.
Mercedes clearly liked the eyebrow effect that BMW’s been rockin’ in the 5er and 7er’s headlight assemblies – thin plastic covers over two projector beams – silver eyebrows, essentially.
And then there’s Audi’s LED accent lights. Audi has used these diodes to stunning, singular effect first on the R8 and then letting it all branch out to the rest of the lineup.
Well, Mercedes thought that appealing, too.
You’ll note, just beneath the two ovoid lights are a string of LEDs just for a dash of a li’l som’in else – echoed by LED foglamps in the front bumper (just like Audi, again).
Yet, looking at the S-Class’ new headlights as a whole, could they belong to anything but a Mercedes-Benz? Funny how the same elements can and do still add up to uniquely identifiable characteristics that define each marque’s distinct, but nonetheless Teutonic image.
By Gunnar Heinrich
CHRIS BANGLE may now be gone from BMW, but his flame surfaced legacy, thanks to the nature of Bavarian product cycles, will be long-lived.
And as reports surface about the nature of events at BMW that surrounded his resignation, it’s interesting to note that Mr. Bangle’s influence extended well beyond the Roundel.