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1996 BMW 725tds

This post is in our archives. Links in this post may have been updated to point to similar cars available to bid on eBay.

With all this controversy surrounding the Volkswagen Group and the EPA investigation regarding its diesel engines, who knows what the future holds for oil burners in the US. BMW was relatively late to the diesel game, although they did offer a diesel powerplant in the E28 5 series back in the 1980s. However, the 1990s were petrol only for the US market. So that begs the question: how did this 725tds make its way stateside. Cars like this under 25 years old that weren’t originally intended for US sale are always a risk in the used market, but somehow, this one got registered in California, a state known for its strict emissions rules.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 BMW 725tds on Craigslist Orange County


Year: 1996
Model: 725tds
Engine: 2.5 liter turbocharged inline-6 diesel
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: N/A
Price: $7,500


1996 BMW 725TDS 6 cylinder turbo diesel 5-speed manual transmission full power sunroof A/C run good current registration clean California tittle email for info


Not only is this E38 a diesel, but it is equipped with a 5-speed manual. This would be the last 7 series to come with a three-pedal option, which was a feature we would never see here stateside. The ad copy here isn’t very detailed which leaves a lot of questions unanswered for potential buyers, not in the least the lack of a mileage figure. The other big question left unanswered is how this thing is legal to drive on US roads. While all states have different registration requirements, the general rule of thumb is that you can’t bring in something under 25 years of age without huge obstacles to overcome (or if you can get a “Show and Display” exemption). My guess is this might have been a car left behind by a diplomat who may have gotten some sort of exemption. Whatever the case may be, if you can figure out the legal hurdles, this would be one unique E38 to go tooling around in.



  1. JC
    JC September 29, 2015

    Who would work on it?

  2. pmichaelg
    pmichaelg September 29, 2015

    Wow – talk about an esoteric find. That is one of the things I love about this blog!

    I can’t imagine this would make sense for anyone outside of the absolute fringe. But very cool find.

  3. Early8Q
    Early8Q September 30, 2015

    I am not an expert on the subject, but I did sell my 2005 Passat TDI long roof to a California dealer in 2009. At that time diesels were not available new in California, however, it is my understanding that as long as they were used with more than 12k mikes on them they could be bought and sold. I wonder if that is the loophole?

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