Feature Listing: 1981 BMW 745i Turbo with 31,700 Miles

To go up against the established Alpha executive from Germany – the S-Class Mercedes-Benz – BMW’s engineers had to think outside of the box. It wasn’t simply good enough to mimic the go-to large luxury sedan. They’d have to outperform it, to be better than Stuttgart’s best. That was a tall order for the Munich firm, since its last truly large sedans were the 501/2 series cars; the Baroque Angels of the early 1950s. Though they launched at roughly the same time as BMW’s microcar craze, they were really holdovers from another era. The same wouldn’t work in the late 1970s, but primed with the success of their 5- and 6-series models, BMW was ready to face the challenge.

Though the E3 had offered a sizeable sedan, the new E23 really stretched BMW’s platforms. The new 7-seres was 6 inches longer overall, most of which fell in a longer wheelbase versus the E3. It was also wider by a few inches and lower, too. Paul Bracq again provided the styling and it was nothing surprising; it carried the torch of many of the design elements of the 3-, 5- and 6-series cars, and that certainly wasn’t a bad thing. But what BMW hoped would help to set it apart from the competition was technology and performance, along with a high-level of material quality in the cabin. Options included Buffalo leather, an on-board computer system, anti-lock brakes, heated and reclining power seats front and rear, and even an airbag late in the run; standard fare today, but way ahead of the curve in the late 1970s and early 1980s. BMW matched this technology with a thoroughly modern driver-oriented cockpit which made the W116 Mercedes-Benz competition feel immediately antiquated.

Where the E23 really established itself, though, was in keeping with the “driving machine” motto of the company.…

1984 BMW 745i

The 745i was the high performance version of the E23 7-series. Produced between 1979-1986, these autobahn stormers were never officially offered in the US. But committed, well-resourced buyers were able to bring them over via the gray market, which is presumably how this one ended up here. Powered by a turbocharged version of the 3.2 or (later) the 3.4 liter M30 inline six – at a time when BMW’s competitors were using V8s and V12s – these cars came from the factory with a 3-speed automatic gearbox. But this particular example has received a 5-speed manual swap, along with a whole host of other goodies. I don’t normally post heavily modified cars, but this one seemed too interesting to ignore.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 BMW 745i on eBay

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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