2000 BMW 740i Sport

Taut, restrained and handsome. These words come to mind when describing the E38 platform 7-series, perhaps one of the most successful BMW designs in recent memory. In short wheelbase form with the M-Sport package, which adds sport seats, firmer suspension, shorter final drive, M-Parallel wheels, sport steering wheel and Shadowline trim, the conservatively styled executive express takes on a slightly more menacing look and feel. Owing to the marvel of depreciation, these cars can be had for a fraction of their original cost. While bargain-basement examples are tempting, they probably hide gremlins that will cost the asking price again to put right. Best to pay up front for a nice one, like this lovely looking example for sale in California.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2000 BMW 740i M-Sport on eBay

2001 BMW 740i Sport

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The E38 7-series is perhaps the last classically handsome BMW. Its conservative, purposeful design has aged well and serves as poignant reminder of how things used to be, before the advent of Chris Bangle’s fussy futurism. Plutocratically expensive when new, today you can buy an early, high mileage, rough-around-the-edges example for a mere couple of grand. But the question is – would you want to? A $2k car that cost nearly $100k new is bound to be a ticking time bomb of wallet-rending catastrophe. To get a nice one you have to spend a little (but not too much) to get a lot (quite a lot, in fact). Around $10k will buy you a nicely sorted example – still not a lot of money, when you think about it – and just a smidge more will put you into a Sport model, like this one.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740i Sport on eBay

2001 BMW 740i Sport

1I don’t think BMW has produced an attractive 7-series since the E38, offered between 1994 and 2001. Sure, later versions of BMW’s flagship sedan are more impressive in other ways: larger, more powerful and more technologically advanced. But they aren’t what I would call classically beautiful. The E38 on the other hand, with its conservative, angular styling, graceful proportions and purposeful stance, is an extraordinarily handsome car. Because of depreciation, you can pick one up for relative pennies these days. For example, I wrote up an early model 740iL a few months ago advertised for just $3,800. But a car that cheap is bound to have expensive repair needs lurking beneath the surface. In truth, if you want a nice E38 that is mechanically sound, you have to spend a bit of money up front to save on potentially exorbitant costs further down the road.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 BMW 740i Sport on Bimmerforums

2003 BMW 540i M-Sport

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Yesterday Paul wrote up a 530i Sport noting that for many, the styling of the E39 5-series is vastly preferable to the E60 that came afterward, burdened as it is with awkward creases and controversial styling courtesy of BMW design guru Chris Bangle. I tend to agree, although I also think the E60, especially in sport specification, will probably become better appreciated as it ages. While yesterday’s 530i with an autobox represents, as Paul put it, the “bread and butter” of the range, this particular car is a bit more special. The standard 540i, powered by a torquey 4.4 liter V8 making nearly 300 hp, is already a very capable sport sedan in its own right. The M-sport package however, which adds M-sport exterior styling, suspension and wheels, brings the car within firing range of the M5.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540i M-Sport on Bimmerforums

2003 BMW 540i Touring M-Sport 6-Speed

540iT1Growing up, I never really understood the appeal of wagons, or “estates” as we called them in England. The triumph of sensibleness and practicality over style, they didn’t seem particularly cool or desirable. Instead, they were for posh people in the countryside who owned big dogs. But as I’ve gotten older, and particularly since I moved to America, something has changed. Not only do I find myself needing to carry around a lot more stuff these days, but wagons have become, well, cool. No longer the staple of the staid upper classes, they’re for the person who needs the extra space of an SUV or a minivan but says “f-that, I’m not ready to give up on life just yet.” And there are some seriously cool wagons around these days. On a recent trip home to London, the first sight greeting me in the car park at Heathrow was that of an F11 530d M-Sport, B8 S4 Avant and an E63 AMG estate, all lined up next to each other. It’s as if somebody was trying to make a point.

The E39 Touring, already a fairly handsome car, looks especially good when specified with the M-sport package, as here. This particular 540i represents the top of the range and not only has it been blessed with M exterior styling and sport suspension, as an added bonus the current owner has gone to the trouble of retrofitting a 6-speed manual transmission from an M5, turning this into a quick, capable and seriously cool longroof.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2003 BMW 540iT on BMW Car Club of America