Another Almost Alpina Alumnus: 1988 BMW 750iL “Alpina B12 5.0”

I wish that I had better news for you. I’d love to say that I’d found some hidden gem no one else had discovered, and that it could be yours for a song. Today is not that day. Instead, what we unfortunately have is another case of mistaken identity. To add a bit of insult to injury, it would seem that it’s quite intentional.

Back in May of 2017, I looked at two E32 BMWs. Both were modified, non-original examples. One was a 5-speed 735i sporting some Racing Dynamics bits, and the other was a clean and low-mileage 750iL that had undergone a full cosmetic Alpina B12 5.0 makeover.

Outstanding E32 Face Off: 1988 BMW 735i and 750iL

Kudos to the then seller, it was accurately represented. It looked great but needed to be cleaned up a bit, but despite low mileage and all the original Alpina goodies, it sold for pretty budget price – just a bit over $5,000.

Well, it’s back. It’s cleaner, better photographed and there are also some clever changes and omissions in the current advertisement that have apparently sold bidders on a bill of goods that I’m pretty confident the car can’t write:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 750iL “Alpina B12 5.0″on eBay

Outstanding E32 Face Off: 1988 BMW 735i and 750iL

Such was the depth of BMW’s great designs from the 1980s that often the E32 is overlooked. Unlike the E23 it replaced, the scaled-up Claus Luthe-inspired design really worked and the heavy-weight look of the 5-series in a fat suit was met with more aggression, yet still elegantly. As you’d expect from a car intended to challenge the W126, BMW threw the kitchen sink at the 7-series, upping not only the technology, luxury and interior materials utilized in the E32, but the engine offerings, as well – the M70 and later M73 V12s beat Mercedes-Benz to the market with silky smooth and powerful twelve cylinder motors that were the trump card with the Trump types.

Yet while popular and well built, finding good examples of especially early 7s has become quite difficult. Today we have two interesting examples to consider. Both are far from original, though each in their own way is compelling. For those who like subtle speed, there’s a M70-powered, low mileage 750iL Alpina B12 5.0 clone from Japan. If you’re a little more in-your-face and like to row your own, there’s a Racing Dynamics-inspired 735i 5-speed. Which would you choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 750iL Alpina Clone on eBay

1994 BMW 750iL with 19,000 Miles

There’s something completely captivating about a time capsule car. It makes you wonder: why didn’t anyone drive it? Where has it been sitting all these years? And it’s especially compelling to find a time capsule example of a model that you don’t see on the roads anymore. The E32 generation 7-series is such a car: very few of these are left, with most having been retired to the junk yard. Unlike Mercedes-Benz cars from the same era, they just weren’t really built to last. Which is a shame: the E32 is a big old bruiser, with classic boxy styling based upon traditional BMW design language, with angular kidneys and four round headlights. The 750iL was the plutocratic range topper, powered by a 5.0 liter, V12 motor.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1994 BMW 750iL on eBay

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

1990 BMW 750iL

The E32 750iL is a bucket list sort of car. You know you probably shouldn’t buy one. But life is short and soon you will be dead. So why not? Everyone should own a V12 at least once in their lives. This may be one of the most affordable ways to do so, at least in terms of initial outlay. The E32’s design has aged well, and still commands an imposing presence when seen on the road today (an admittedly infrequent occurrence, since many now reside in junk yards). Taut, handsome, brutish and much more modern in appearance than the W126 S-class, the flagship was the 750. Available only in long-wheelbase iL form in the US, it was powered by the 5.0 liter V12 M70 motor also to be found in the 850i, good for about 300 hp. The engine itself is fairly stout. It’s the electrical components and control modules that will kill these cars. When they fail, they are absurdly expensive to replace. For that reason you can buy these cars very cheaply.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 BMW 750iL on Greenville Craigslist

1988 BMW 750iL

6Last week I wrote up a clean and low-mileage E32 740i, noting that examples of this generation of the 7-series rarely come to market in such decent shape. A few days later, Carter shot me an email with a link to this lovely looking ’88 750iL. The flagship of the E32 lineup, and available only in LWB form, the 750 was powered by a hulking 5.0 liter V12 unit, essentially two six-cylinder motors stuck together. They crop up from time to time on Craigslist and on eBay, but mostly as basket cases, with shot exteriors, torn up interiors and numerous electronic and mechanical gremlins. This car, on the other hand, appears to have received the kind of love and attention that these old cruisers really deserve.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 750iL on eBay

Feature Listing: 1991 Alpina B12 5.0

I was quite lucky as a teenager to have some pretty serious metal from Bavaria to cut my teeth on. My father had gotten quite into 1980s BMWs, so we had a few 6-series and even a M5 in the house. But it was the “family” car that I liked the most, believe it or not. That family car was a pretty special one as it was an E32 735i 5-speed. The manual in the large body car might be a bit of an aberration, but as a whole package the E32 was a great car. It was fantastic to drive and felt much lighter on its feet than the size would indicate. It was comfortable, too, in either front or back posts, with rich smelling leather, a modern climate control system and a great sounding stereo. It was a car which ate up highway miles with ease, and outside it was quite a looker, too. It managed to look both more substantial and much better proportioned than the E23, finally integrating the mandated bumpers well into a design that was market leading. In fact, the only area I ever really felt our E32 could have used some help in was to have a bit more motor.

Of course, BMW offered a revolutionary motor in the 750i. It was the first of the big three luxury brands to make the leap to a modern V12, and the M70B50 was a pretty impressive motor on paper. With 300 horsepower from 5.0 liters, it was nearly 100 horsepower north of the M30 mill in our 735i and smooth as silk. As the years progressed though, the M70’s power was nearly matched by the lighter M60 and there was somehow a loss of exuberance about the V12 as a new run of V8 motors proved the impressive mainstays.…

2001 BMW 750iL with 12k miles

I’ve featured quite a number of BMWs over the past week, but none of which are quite as impressive and imposing as this 2001 750iL with an incredibly low 12,000 miles on the odometer. This final year V12 powered E38 is, for the, the stuff dreams are made of. BMW nailed it with the styling on this executive express, made even more attractive with the Style 37 M Parallel wheels. This car also has a bit of celebrity status attached to it, having been owned by the singer Steve Perry since new. Still lamenting the direction 7 series styling has gone in the last 15 years? Here’s another chance to own an almost new E38.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 750iL on eBay

1990 Alpina B12 5.0

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Well, folks, I have a new all-time favorite E32. Last time I made that claim it was a beautiful black on black example with M-Parallels and a nice front spoiler. I’ve long been a fan of Alpina’s recent B7s and think they’ve made the last two generations of 7-series much more attractive. Same thing here, with the often-frumpy E32 getting the full Alpina treatment with more power, a great front spoiler, and the classic striping. And the wheels, the evergreen, always gorgeous 20-spoke wheels. The 5.0-liter V12 gets much more than just a chip treatment, with higher-compression pistons and lots of valve work bringing the power from 300hp to 350hp. Lots of show, lots of go, this is a kickass 7-series.

Click for details: 1990 Alpina B12 5.0 on eBay

Feature Listing: 1997 BMW L7

BMW has traditionally taken large measures to set its biggest sedan platform apart. In the case of the first 7, the E23, BMW offered an ultra-luxury oriented version replete with full leather accoutrements inside. Dubbed the “L7″, it was an expensive and very exclusive model. When BMW moved on to the E32, it distinguished the large lineup with an extended wheelbase model which added 5” of legroom. This matched the long standard extended wheelbase S-Class models, but Audi had outdone BMW and Mercedes-Benz with their D11 chassis Lang V8 quattro, which added a full foot (30 cm) to the wheelbase of the normal V8 quattro. Having also stepped up the motor in the E32 to the double-six 5 liter M70 V12, BMW was left with a few options when it came to the next 7; they took all of these items and combined them into one ultra-luxurious, ultra-long wheelbase 750iL:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1997 BMW L7 on Kijiji