Budget V12: 1998 BMW 750iL

Do you only have $7k to spend on a car? Do you still want to look like a BOSS?

Then you should buy this E38 750iL. That is, of course, after you’ve put it through a PPI to make sure it isn’t about to grenade, and talked with your bank manager (slash significant other) to check you can afford the fuel and maintenance on this V12-powered cruise missile. The long-wheelbase E38 7-series is a real bruiser and a looker, especially in black: a behemoth in a bespoke suit. And while the electronics on BMW’s V12 motors are notoriously expensive to fix when they go wrong, the 5.4 liter SOHC M73 engine itself is fairly reliable. While power output at 320 hp is relatively modest for such a large lump, there’s plenty of low-down torque, the unit doesn’t suffer from the timing chain/guide failures that afflict V8s from the same era and, according to some on the forums, even manages to return a reasonable 24 MPG on the highway. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it. The relatively puny M50 six cylinder in my E34 only manages a few more than that.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 BMW 750iL on eBay

Year: 1998
Model: 750iL
Engine: 5.4 liter V12
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 113,000 mi
Price: $6,900

Single owner classic 1998 BMW 750il with the 12 cylinder engine and only 113k miles. Inside and outside is in excellent condition. Always serviced at the BMW dealership. Brand new Goodyear comfort touring tires and battery. Drives super smooth and straight. Heated seats front and rear plus heated steering wheel. GPS navigation screen and original phone. Carpet and interior is super clean, always kept detailed and parked inside the garage. No weird smells or odors and absolutely no pets or smoke, still has new car smell. It is very hard to find a 750il this clean without any problems on the market. No rust and no mechanical issues.

I’ve written up a few cheap E38s before, pointing out the perils and possibilities that come with buying a big luxobarge at the lower end of the market. But I don’t think I’ve ever managed to find one as nice looking as this for such a reasonable price. The owner claims that it has been garage kept, detailed regularly and serviced at a BMW dealer. It certainly looks like it from the photos. The images depict a glossy and apparently unblemished exterior in Schwarz II black, a similarly spotless looking black leather interior and a clean engine bay. A VIN check reveals a predictably generous option list, including heated seats (front and rear), power rear seats, side airbags, xenons, a whizzy electronic damping control system for the suspension and double glazed windows (perfect for quietening the outside din from the hoi polloi).

A quick google shows that the car was advertised for sale last year a couple of times, apparently by the same seller and with a much higher asking price. Maybe it just wouldn’t sell at that price point, or maybe the seller discovered a problem that he or she has not fixed and has factored into the new price. Either way, a close inspection, a cool head and open eyes are called for here, especially since these things can become money pits once they cross the 100k mile threshold. Still, if the car checks out, I think it’s a great deal.

– Craig

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