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Shortly after the E38 BMW 7 series was introduced, the company resurrected a name from the 1980s to grace one very special 7 series. The L7. The first L7 was based on the E23 7 series and appeared for but one model year in 1986. This 7 series featured leather upholstery throughout with a leather dashboard and door padding, a power glass moonroof and a driver’s side airbag.
For the E38 though, the L7 badge would mean something a little more special. First, one notices the extra length. Ten inches longer aft of the B-pillar, this car was designed with rear passenger comfort in mind. Leather upholstery throughout was standard, of course, as was the V12 engine. A full length console ran down the center of the rear seats, with electric adjustments for both rear seats and a refrigerator behind tucked away behind the folding armrest. Tray tables like what you would see in a Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas were on hand, as well. Just 899 of these long-wheelbase 7 series were produced, with the bulk being produced in 1997 – 265 examples. This particular L7 is on offer south of Stuttgart in the direction of the Swiss border.
Mercedes has made an interesting tack, reasserting themselves as the kings of luxury and letting sporting dynamics become secondary. BMW is making interesting inroads in the green department and still produces very sporting cars, but like many automakers, their mission has become muddled. There was no question about where the E38 7-series sat in the hierarchy of the big boys though, bringing the most sporting looks and dynamics to the full-size luxury sedan segment. While the 740i may be the sportiest choice, the 750iL brought V12 power and presence to the party. They may be highway dominators, but today’s example has covered less than 50k miles and comes heavily optioned, including the excellent and Shadowline-including Sport Package. With a detailed and extensive maintenance history, this is the way to go if you’re interested in the 750.
I’m not a conventional person by any stretch of the means. This is probably why I’m turned on whenever I see a large luxury sedan equipped with a manual gearbox. Like this BMW 730i for sale in Potsdam, Germany equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox. This was the first year for the E38 7 series, and while we saw this engine and gearbox in the E34 530i, this 730i model was one that never made it here.
The mid 1990s would bring about a new flagship for BMW, one that would take on a more evolutionary than revolutionary styling change. The E38 7 series would go on to become one of the most revered large BMWs in history, as the 7 series that followed was not as well received due to its radical styling. Available in V8 and V12 form throughout its stint in the US, this 1995 740i represents the more “basic” short wheelbase form that was on offer to American customers. The earlier E38 had the 4.0 liter V8 that we see here, supplanted by a revised 4.4 liter unit from 1996 onwards. It’s uncommon to spot an early E38 with low mileage, as these would be tasked to devour highway miles at a rapid clip. This 740i has escaped the ravages of time and is closing in on a mere 40,000 miles.
I’m not alone in my preference for the E38 7-series; its minor updates over the E32 seemed to really take the design to a new level of cleanliness and aggression. Relative to the well cared for E38s that still roam the streets looking amazing, most E32s look beat up, frumpy, ridden hard and put away wet. All that changes today though, as this is hands down the best E32 I have ever seen. Rocking lowering springs, M-Parallels, and a nice front lip, this black V12 beauty is the business. It’s not just a pretty face, either; it’s covered just 37k miles in its life and has had tiny issues tended to. It takes a really nice E23 for me to be more attracted than pretty much any E38; this is the first E32 that’s really ever required a second, third, and fourth glance.