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On BMW’s Outstanding E32 7-Series

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

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.


eBay Watch: 1985 BMW 735i

1985 bmw 735i

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG eBay Motors

FINDING an 80s BMW 7-Series whose very tyres haven’t seen their last millimeter of tread scrubbed is, sadly, a challenge.

This is especially true of the great e32 gen. (1987-1994) which have largely led very hard lives judging by the sickly, three digit dogs that proliferate the Internet.

Truly sad.

That’s what makes this mint Californian example such a find.  A 1985 BMW 735i, it’s part of the original e23 generation 7’s that the Bavarians sold from 1977  through 1986.

bmw e23 7 interior

As some of you recall from our filmed road test of the 733i from 2007, the classic e23’s road manners seem downright wooden by today’s highly assisted standards. And yet, a well maintained example exudes a classic Black Forest charm that is, to many, the very heart and soul of the roundel.

Considering that this particular sedan hails from (typically) dry California, has only 154K miles on the odometer, a loved interior and exterior, plus the original radio (!), and is selling for a reasonable buy-it-now price of $3,995, this seems an offer too good to be true.

bmw 735i shots

Apparently others agree, as the vintage 7er has 15 bids as this post goes to post. As always, caveat emptor. Any car with low miles can suffer from a slew of problems that are every bit as detrimental to the vehicle’s welfare and – your wallet – as those that are driven hard.

bmw 735i rear

[Linked: eBay]


BMW Milestones 7-Series Film


  • Paul Street’s Milestones Film for BMW China
  • From upper left: 502 (1952-1964) |E23 (1977-1986) | E32 (1987-1994) | E38 (1995-2001) | E66 (2002-2008) | F01 (2009 – )
  • Streetlight Films known for car adverts and special film segments for Top Gear

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG via Street Films

YOU have to admire Paul Street’s craft.

The British film maker is best known for more commercial works through his production company, Streetlight Films. His company produced Top Gear‘s best segment – you know, the one that featured Jeremy Clarkson at the helm of a Ford first chased by a Vette through a mall and then in a completely disconnected scene – taking part in a mock invasion by landing on a beach with British marines.

You can see why BMW would’ve wanted to enlist such talent to present the new 7-Series to the burgeoning Chinese market. What follows is one fluid sequence of circular motion. We see BMW design theory change through the years; a reflection of each decade.

Tell me, were the late 90s really that boring? And the 80s that loud?

Our point of view is looking at the passage of time from streetside; like watching the action of a clock’s arms pass swiftly along its face from the slim view granted from a profile perspective. This promotional film, for Chinese eyes only, apparently, is whirrling magic.

Perhaps with time, we’ll be able to point to the flaws in such overt use of computer animation. But for now, Milestones work rather nicely.


Olde Top Gear Review of Lexus LS400 versus Traditional Euro Set

By Gunnar Heinrich

TOP GEAR wasn’t always Top Gear.

And there’s no better proof of that than this clip of ye olde Top Gear from the Y.O.L. nineteen hundred ninety one. In it, a very un-Clarksonesque presenter takes us through an arc-storyline presentation of the Lexus’ then new LS400.

Assembling a crowd of “The traditional European competition” – a BMW (E32) 735i, Jaguar (XJ40) XJ6, and Mercedes-Benz (W126) 420SE (with those bloody Euro-spec lights ‘n bumpers) – the presenter performed a rather matter of fact review of all three’s kit and tags next to the cheap ‘n cheerfully stuffed and hushed LS.

The presenter’s notes on the Europeans was firmly stiff upper lip.

  • Speaking of the Jag, “It’s got exceptional ride and handling… and extra instrumentation; something the Americans demanded.” Hey don’t blame us, pal.
  • The Bimmer, “Very much a driver’s car. Very efficient in design and layout.” Naturally.
  • The Benz, “Long in the tooth. Good performance, ride, and handling.” I beg your pardon?
  • And the Lexus, “Toyota have undoubtedly produced a quality car.” Quite.

And that’s about as heated as the review gets. No rants nor raves. Just a mild assessment of the qualities and shortcomings of four luxury sedans.

Top Gear really wasn’t always Top Gear.

Share > An Owner’s Experience With BMW’s First V12 Flagship

One classic weighed by a checkered history

Clock back to the spring of ’01.

The Bush Administration was in the stupor of an indifferent honeymoon. BMW Chief Designer Chris Bangle, armed with flamethrower, was busy redefining the term “surface entertainment.”

And one man elected to start writing about his ownership experiences with his M.Y. 1989 750iL; one among the first V12 flagships BMW e’er built.

Playing ostrich these past seven years, I completely missed >>> among my many, many Internet searches for fly Teutonic content.

So when I uncovered this site that features one of my all-time favorites; having driven an ’88 735i (with 5-speed stick) and ridden in a ’93 740i, I was very eager to know more about what it meant to own the top model that powered the Roundel into the 90s.

Asking the general public to opine on their experiences, the site’s publisher left user comments to do most of the initial telling.

“1989 piece of $#*&. Need I say more! Pissed owner. BMW (Bring Money With you),” wrote Ken V.

Phillip K. took account, “Horror … cost me $72,000 … sat in the repair shop more than three months … one day my accountant … told me we have a problem … The bill had accumulated to $43,000 and more coming. I was stunned … ”

And finally MJ confessed, “I am a BMW Service technician. I am so glad someone has started a site to speak the truth about the abomination called 750iL! 750’s are about as bad for the technician as the owner. They are difficult to work on and a pain sometimes to diagnose, a car never really fit for this world … BMW should be ashamed of the E32 750 (unfortunately with what we’ve seen with the new E65 7 series so far, history may repeat itself) … a nightmare financially. Forget resale value … The car is junk…”

Were these dark episodes part of some troublesome trend among BMW’s finest sedans? Or did it just happen that the site publisher’s own car was built on a Friday afternoon in the middle of Oktoberfest?

Amazingly, the publisher went on to write that despite itemizing his 7’s seven months of downtime and $36,720 in repairs that included fixing everything from slow coolant leaks to replacing clogged windshield washer nozzles, he still found merit in his ride.

“Make no mistake- the 750iL is quite a car and I’m still impressed by it, however, if you have one like mine, be prepared to be equally or perhaps even more impressed by its repair and maintenance requirements.”

Now that’s what we might call true (read: dumb) commitment.

Granted, the guy’s probably since moved on from his rolling cash siphon. The site really hasn’t seen a substantive update since 2002. Further, there’s no direct way to confirm if anything that he’s written is true.

But this WAV file of a recorded voicemail from some non-committal BMW rep. is interesting >>> as is the site itself – if only for dual aspects of the fly nature of its Teutonic subject matter and for providing thought to what problems might wait in store for the far more complex current generation >>>