1985 BMW 735i

1985 BMW 735i

The E23, produced between 1977 and 1987, was the first iteration of the 7-series. It set the standard that BMW has followed, more or less, with each subsequent version of its luxury flagship. Large, comfortable, conservatively styled and packed with the latest technology for the time (ABS brakes, an onboard computer, electric seats and climate control, for example), these autobahn cruisers were for those who had arrived but couldn’t quite afford a Mercedes, or preferred the driving dynamics of a BMW. Sadly, very few have survived the ravishes of time and they’re quite a rare sight on today’s roads. And that’s a shame, because these are truly very handsome and classy cars, sharing a lot of styling cues with the gorgeous E24 6-series, including a sharply raked, shark-nosed front end. So it’s refreshing to come across a low-mileage, nicely kept example like this one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 735i

Twofer: 1984 BMW 733i (plus spare car)

Twofer: 1984 BMW 733i (plus spare car)

4By now we’re used to the idea that flagship, luxury sedans should look like bloated warships, with bulbous styling, semi-autonomous aids to insulate the driver from driving, and triple-glazed windows to insulate plutocratic passengers from the hoi polloi outside. But once upon a time, top of the range cars were simpler, crisper and cleaner in their appearance and design and much more involving to drive. Luxurious, yes, but swollen, no. For this reason I’ve always had a soft spot for the E23 generation 7-series, now near forgotten, especially since so few of them remain on the road and so many of them now rot in junkyards. This one is a nice looking survivor. It also comes with an added bonus: a donor car with a manual gearbox, ready for a swap.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 733i on eBay

1985 BMW 745i

1985 BMW 745i

4The E23 7-series is already a bit special, for two main reasons. First, as I mentioned when I wrote up a 733i a couple of weeks ago, you don’t tend to see them on the roads anymore. Second, the beautiful design, which shares a number of features with the shark-nosed E24 6-series coupe, matches anything put out by Mercedes-Benz in the same era in terms of elegance and style. That is not something that could always be said about BMW products, even if they were more fun to drive than their counterparts from Stuttgart. But this E23 is even more special, since it’s a gray market 745i.  Not available in the US, this high-performance model represented the top of the E23 lineup in Europe and came with a turbocharged version of the 3.4 liter inline six cylinder M30 engine (here called the M106) and a host of luxurious and high-tech (for the time) accessories. Very few of these come onto the market, and rarely do they do so in the kind of condition shown here.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 BMW 745i on ebay

1984 BMW 733i

1984 BMW 733i

1 A couple of weeks ago I binge-watched Stranger Things. Sort of a mashup of The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, The Goonies and E.T., it’s a sci-fi/horror show about kids chasing monsters set in the early 1980s. It’s fantastic. The producers have clearly gone to great lengths to get the period details correct: the hair, the clothes and the music are all spot on. As are the cars; the show features an impressive lineup of cool 80s iron that had me wondering whose job it is to source cars for TV and film, and where they get them from. Do studios keep a stock of mint, vintage cars on hand? If so, I’d love to see that garage. Anyway, in the show one of the major characters (a teenager, rather improbably) drives an E23 733i. You don’t see many of them left on the roads these days, so it was a delight to see it on screen. A quick search online turned up only a few for sale, but this one in particular caught my eye.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 733i on eBay

1982 BMW 745i Euro-spec

1982 BMW 745i Euro-spec

It’s been a good week for early 7 lovers here, but as Paul’s 1983 733i listing pointed out yesterday, some of them are neat to see but aren’t priced accurately. One such example of this is today’s 1982 745i. Now, off the bat it’s got several advantages over the 733i. It’s a much more attractive European specification model with slim bumpers, but those more interested in performance would rather see what the M102 produced sans catalyst – 252 horsepower, an otherworldly amount in 1983 in a sedan. Heck, that’s just shy of what the E28 M5 and M6 came to the U.S. with! So, what’s holding this one back?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 745i on eBay

1983 BMW 733i

1983 BMW 733i

Following on from the final E24 we featured on Tuesday, here’s another big BMW from the 1980s. Here and there we’ve seen a few nice E23s, including the uncommon Alpina B10 3.5 Carter featured last week. This 733i with its 3-speed automatic is more of a relaxed cruiser than that Alpina special, but this has to be one of the lowest mileage E23s left in existence, showing just over 12,000 miles on its odometer. While it’s not the ultimate iteration of the E23, it’s certainly a flashback to the beginning of a golden era at BMW.

Click for details: 1983 BMW 733i on Hemmings Motor News

1984 Alpina B10 3.5

1984 Alpina B10 3.5

We’ve covered a lot of Alpina models on these pages, but today’s example was a new one to me. In fact, it may be a new one to you, too – because this might be the most rare Alpina model produced. Alpina didn’t have a lot to do with the early 7 series for a few reasons; one, they didn’t sell in big numbers and most of Alpina’s work was concentrated on the smaller and sportier 3,5 and 6 series. But BMW offered a factory hotrod itself in the turbocharged 745i in 1981, and at that point Alpina seemed to give up the ghost on development of the E23 – or did it? The problem was that in Great Britain, the 745i wasn’t available, so Alpina dealer Sytner had the company develop a specific U.K market model. Based upon the 735i, the B10 3.5 featured a 261 horsepower Alpina 3.5 liter motor, normal Alpina suspension upgrades and wheels and some subtle exterior and interior changes. Although these cars were not built in Germany, they are nonetheless considered real Alpinas. Only a scant 22 were built, and one is for sale today:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Alpina B10 3.5 on eBay

1985 BMW 735i

1985 BMW 735i

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This year marked the introduction of the sixth generation BMW 7 series. I’ll admit that since 2002, I haven’t really followed this executive sedan closely. I, along with many Bimmerphiles, was not a fan of the radical redesign and complex iDrive system of the E65. Subsequently, I stopped paying attention to any of the updates after that model’s intro. One 7 series that intrigued me all these years, however, was the E23. This was a rather small executive sedan in comparison to the S-Class Mercedes of the time, but it was also more of a choice for those who wanted to drive instead of being driven. This 1985 735i for sale in Texas belies its 30 years of age, showing only 77,000 miles on the odometer and having been maintained to what looks like a high standard.

Click for details: 1985 BMW 735i on eBay

1984 BMW 745i

1984 BMW 745i

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E23s are pretty sweet luxury cruisers, starting the long line of BMW’s 7-series that have provided a sportyish option for businessfolk. While the E38 was the pinnacle and rumors of an M7 seem to have a little more traction than ever before, the original badass was the turbocharged 745i. With the exception of South Africa’s 745i which featured the M5’s M88 engine, the M106 turbocharged the venerable M30 3.4-liter inline-6, giving a healthy power and torque boost for the big poppa. This example doesn’t have the incredible water buffalo leather interior, but it does have lots of chrome – all the way to the wheel arches. The M106 can’t be the easiest engine to maintain, but 136k miles and no reserve, this could be a nice shot at an old-school Euro megasedan.

Click for details: 1984 BMW 745i on eBay

1982 BMW 733i

1982 BMW 733i

Back in February, we came across a mint condition 1978 BMW 733i for sale. At that time, I opined how rare it is to come across an E23 on the road, let alone one that has been kept in good shape. Lightning has struck twice, as this 1982 733i for sale in Oregon matches that prior example for originality. Unlike the 4-speed manual variant we saw in February, this particular example is equipped with the 3-speed automatic gearbox (the E23 would not see a 4-speed automatic until 1984). Originally an Arizona car, life in the western parts of the US has been kind to this 733i.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 BMW 733i on eBay

1986 BMW L7

1986 BMW L7

With two exceptions, to me the 7-series has always been a bit of an awkward sell. The E32 and E38 being the outsiders, for the most part the translation of BMW’s sporting tradition to a large sedan format hasn’t always been a beautiful marriage. Newer models seem large and ungainly, ponderous rolling technological showrooms. I’m sure they’re impressive in their own ways, but since the introduction of the S8, Audi has always done the large sports sedan better and the AMG models have been nuttier than anything BMW offered. But back in the 1980s, the E23 was the large sedan out of place. Looking like a stretched E12 after one too many trips to the buffet, the E23 competed against the technologically advanced Audi 5000 Turbo quattro and the more luxury oriented standby W126 Mercedes-Benz lineup. And while it wasn’t about to get all nerdy to compete with the C3 Audis, BMW did attempt to sway the Mercedes-Benz faithful with upscale versions of the E23 and E24 – the L7 and L6 – to compete against the SEL and SEC. They sported mostly cosmetic upgrades and one heck of a leather-wrap job inside:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 BMW L7 on eBay

1984 BMW 733i

1984 BMW 733i

The E23 7 series always struck me as bit of an oddity in the history of BMW models. This luxury sedan didn’t have as much presence as the E3 “New Six” that preceded it, nor did it have the option of serious size and muscle as the V12 powered E32 750iL that followed it. This has planted the E23 in relative obscurity amongst collectors, as it was never quite as visible as its domestic rival, the Mercedes-Benz W126 S-class. Thus, it is a bit of a bargain in comparison to other period BMW models. This 1984 733i represents the last year for this particular model in the US, succeeded by the 735i the following year before this generation would disappear altogether after the 1987 model year.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 733i on eBay

1983 BMW 732i

1983 BMW 732i

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Last weekend I came across a very early E23 BMW 7 series with a manual gearbox for sale in Canada. Finding one of these in good shape is rarer than the proverbial hen’s tooth in the Americas. The first generation 7 series is one of those cars fading away to memory, stuck in between the handsome E3 “big six” sedan and the E32 7 series with its available V12 engine that succeeded it. Always on the lookout for the unique ride, we’ve stumbled upon this 732i for sale in The Netherlands is sure to be a hit for those who like the slim bumper appearance of the cars sold in Europe at the time.

Click for details: 1983 BMW 732i at Ruyl Classics

1978 BMW 733i 4-speed manual

1978 BMW 733i 4-speed manual

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There’s a website How Many Left? that tracks the number of examples of any particular vehicle still on the road in Great Britain. If their numbers are accurate, then the BMW 733i is almost extinct. I can’t remember the last time I spotted an E23 on the road, let alone an early 733i. These early 7 series are not a darling of the collector set. Around 285,000 were produced over a decade span. I’ve seen plenty of E23s in rough condition and if that’s anything to go on, then many have taken their final trip to the scrap heap. This 1977 733i for sale in Vancouver, British Columbia, however, has escaped that fate.

Click for details: 1978 BMW 733i on eBay

1984 BMW 745i 5-speed

1984 BMW 745i 5-speed

The E23 has always been a design which to me has been quite polarizing. As with the E12 and E24, Paul Bracq was heavily involved in the final design and it shows – in many ways, the E23 looks like a cross between the two that was scaled up 10%. The results of that in my mind weren’t always good. Growing up, my father had both E24s and E28s, clean looking, well proportioned designs, and when I first saw an E23 I remember thinking it looked a bit ungainly. In U.S. specification, the bumpers were too big and the wheels were too small, resulting in a car which appeared heavy, sagging and sad. When he’s really upset, my son manages to invert his lip and stick it out, tears streaming down his cheeks. It’s a look which nearly mimics the U.S. spec front end of the E23 I now recognize. However, in European trim the E23 made more sense – it looked lighter, smaller and better proportioned. While not as stately as the W116, it certainly looked a fair bit sportier outside and more modern. Couple those European-market looks with some great period BBS RS wheels and the look is just about perfect; throw in the turbocharged M106 motor and you’ve peeked much interest. Of course, unfortunately the M106 was only pared with an automatic transmission – but then, what would happen if you swapped that for a 5-speed?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 745i on eBay