1983 BMW 733i

The BMW E23 7 series was a continuation of BMW’s drive to standardize their model designations and continue their drive to be a true competitor to Mercedes-Benz in the luxury car arena into the 1980s. Introduced in 1977, the 733i produced 181 horsepower by 1983, being superseded by the 735i in 1985. These cars were ahead of their time, offering such features as service interval indicators, on board computers and eventually anti lock brakes and a driver’s airbag. You still see an occasional first generation 7 series on the street, but typically, they are well worn, as collectors prefer to collect its two door brother, the E24 6 series. This example of one of BMW’s early executive sedans comes from our reader John in New Jersey.

1983 BMW 733i

This car has been my daily driver, but I will soon be going away and can’t stand the idea of leaving it sitting for long periods of time. That is terrible for all cars, especially vintage BMW’s. I’m the third owner and so far I’ve had this car for about a year and it has been reliable, and a blast to drive. The transmission shifts smooth, the breaks are good, the ac blows cold, and all the electronics work. If you’re looking chances are you already know a lot about this car, and that they can last for hundreds of thousands of miles if they’re maintained well. This one has been, and I have several folders filled with records to prove it. The car was purchased at Open Road BMW in Edison, NJ in 1984 and the same female owner drove it until 2008. She then sold it to a mechanic whom I brought it from in March of 2011. Since having it I have put about 5,500 miles on it and some of those trips have been about 400 miles with no problem. The car is reliable and I would not hesitate to take it across the country.

This car is not a grey market import; it was made for the United States. This makes it even more rare, as very few US-Spec manual transmissions were made. The advantage of a US Spec is apparent when you try and insure the vehicle, and when you try and get it inspected.


– Five Speed Manuel Transmission (Very Rare for E23)
– 4 New German Made Goodyear Eagle RS-A’s 225/55/17 ($220 each)
– 17-Inch M Wheels
– No Mechanical Issues
– No Leaks
– No Burning of Oil
– Spare Stock Wheel and Spare M Wheel
– Stock Wheels Also Available With Firestone Tires On Them With Decent Tred Remaining
– AC Blows Cold
– Non-Smoking Owners
– No Electrical Problems
– Only Use Mobile 1 Synthetic Oil
– I get 17 MPG in Town and 26 On The Highway
– Passed NJ Inspection In November
– Has original tool kit and is only missing small pliers.

Recent Work

– Brand New Stock Muffler
– New SI Board
– New Antenna (Not Pictured)
– New Kenwood CD Player with IPod+Pandora Support (Not Pictured)
– Rebuilt Alternator
– New Shift Knob
– New Clutch Master Cylinder
– New Clutch Line
– New Transmission Cross member
– New Blower Motor
– New Fan Blade and Fan Clutch
– Installed Parking Sensors
– New Drive Belts

Things To Keep In Mind

– Shocks/Struts are starting to wear and could be replaced if you intend to drive this car very spiritdly, it does not sag or bounce but it is fairly soft

– Headlights and High Beams function however one of the check relays has gone bad (Means light flashes on Diagnostic Check Unit)

– Stain on headliner in the back right that is due to the sunroof being left open about half a centimeter while it was raining, the car does not leak.

– Outside temperature gauge just stopped reading accurately

– There are a few rust spots on the lower right side of the car. They are barely noticeable and minimal considering the cars age but I included a few close up shots of them. The rest of the car is rust free!

The car is reliable, and the fact that it is a manual with a near perfect interior, and exterior in such good condition makes it extremely rare. As it ages it will only more rare.

The seller has provided quite a comprehensive history of this 733i, and these manual transmission E23s are certainly a rare find. With one owner for a long time, the original paint and a comprehensive history, this would be a fantastic usable classic of a BMW that hasn’t garnered the most popularity amongst enthusiasts but is an important BMW in its own right.


Rare Manual 1983 BMW 733i For Sale

You just don’t see many of these cruisers, and I am not sure I have ever seen one with a manual transmission.  Lovingly restored this looks like a great 7 series.

Update 3.22.2012: Note in the comments that while the car sold via eBay, it was a non-paying bidder. If you’re still interested in the car, try leaving a comment for the owner below. -dc

1983 BMW 733i:

From the seller –

“1983 BMW E23 733i 5 Speed

As a long standing BWM lover I have been a member of the BMW Boston and White Mountain Chapters for over 10 years.  I’m an instructor for the HPDE High Performance Drivers Education program run by these chapters and have owned over 2 dozen BMW’s.  I  now own this 733i being offered for sale along with a 2001 Z3 M Coupe that I’m preparing for street and track use.  My daily driver is a Saab 9-5.  When I started looking for a car like this my first interest was to acquire an older 6 series.  But with a wife and two boys the idea of 4 doors became appealing.  I also grew to love the lines and classic look of the e23.  Then when this pristine example with complete documentation, a one owner garage queen, 5 speed , with a unique color combination came up for sale, I acted immediately.

The history of this car is completely documented.  It was originally ordered and purchased by a gentleman Louis Randle Jr. from Dryer & Reinbold in Indianapolis IN on March 15th 1983 for the price of $32,308.40.  Mr. Randall apparently was somewhat of a collector with about 50 cars in his stable.  He kept this car in his environmentally controlled garage and used it occasionally for his personal fair weather use.  Throughout his ownership he cared for the car meticulously with all scheduled service performed at Dryer & Reinbold.  In June of 2009 Mr. Randle began to liquidate his car collection in preparation to move from IN to CO and the car was sold Russell Ault a dealer in the area, the mileage at this time was 68,120 original miles.  Due to the economy at the time the car did not sell for the asking price which was north of $10,000.  I discovered the car and purchased it on Feb 22, 2010, with about 68,500 miles on it.  As a condition of the sale I asked Russ to install a Posi rear end to replace the open differential in anticipation of the drive home from IN to NH in Feb.  I flew in and drove it home. The car came equipped with the original 14” wheels and all season tires which are still with the car.  During the ride home I encountered a few snow squalls.  This is the one and only time the car has been driven in the winter.  Surprisingly the car handled it surprisingly well, was completely comfortable and a joy to drive on this 10 hour trek.  Upon arriving home I had the car inspected and went over it with a fine tooth comb.  What I found was even better than I expected.  The car had not a spec of rust anywhere; underneath looked as good as the exterior.  The only rust I could find was some minimal surface rust on the rear valance mounted under the bumper facing forward.  This was obviously a result of being hit with particles picked up by the rear tires and thrown back.  I also found that at some point new Bilstein shocks had been installed on all four corners along with the brake pads all appeared to be brand new.

All the rubber bushings, hoses and so forth were in equally impressive like new shape clearly the result of being stored indoors its entire life and being used occasionally.  Immediately after purchasing any car I perform a complete fluid change switching over to Red Line synthetic the engine, and transmission fluid. The differential had already been done at my request prior to purchase.  I also performed the required oil spray bar nut upgrade and while I had the valve cover off replaced it with a refinished one painted wrinkle black.  One thing I found during the long drive was that the front seats although in perfect condition did not provide adequate support for my bad back.  To remedy this I purchased a pair of Recaro seats from a BMW 320i along with brackets to adapt the seats to the stock sliders / height adjusters.  I had the seats recovered in soft high grade vinyl that matches the stock red interior quite nicely.  The cost for the seats, brackets and recovering was over $1800.00.  I drove the car throughout the summer and fall then took it off the road last winter.  There were a few things that needed attention in addition to the stereo system I installed.  The Hydraulic Brake booster unit was starting to weep and with over 70K miles on the original fuel pumps I decided to install new BMW replacements.  I also replaced the rear valance and with a new one from BMW, added a sport steering wheel, and new coca floor mats.  The car originally came with a dealer installed CB Radio which is still with the car as a collectable which I removed when I installed the stereo system described below.  The wheels described below where put on.  The car also had a front spoiler / air dam and fog lights on it when I purchased it.  I did not like the way it fit and thought it distracted from the classic look of the car and removed it.

Exterior Paint and Body

The car has never been in an accident.  All panels, glass, and paint are original and in perfect condition.  The color is rich and deep, the clear coat without swirl marks, any minor chips have been carefully been taken care of.  All the trim work looks brand new and shinny, with no oxidation. The front and rear bumpers are free of oxidation and look like new.  All moldings are in excellent condition. The rocker panels and lower rear panels behind the wheels look great.  The doors sills look new and are free from scratches.  The weather stripping and seals are 100% and supple.  The There is no rust of any kind anywhere on the car.  The only flaw in the exterior is a very minor scratch of about 1-1/2 inches below the rear license plate and a minor ding less than the size of a dime on the located on the drivers side rocker panel.  Both are difficult to notice if you’re not looking.  Because of these two flaws I would rate the condition of the exterior at 9.7 out of 10.


The interior is perfect. The rugs, dash, seats, head liner, door panels all flawless.  The installed stereo system is a work of art.  Only when examined closely does it become apparent that the head unit is an aftermarket unit.  The sport steering wheel adds a nice touch replacing the clunky square stock one.  The Recaro seats complement the stock interior beautifully. The original front seats which are in perfect condition are included in the sale and can be easily swapped back in about an hour, held in by 8 allen head bolts. The rear seat looks like fine leather sofa.  All controls function exactly as they should.  The AC blows cold and has yet to require a recharge.  The Automatic climate control, heater / defroster, rear window defroster, seat sliders and height adjust, electric windows, sun roof, door locks, computer, all function 100%.  The only known issue is the cruise control, which just recently stopped working.  I know this is due to the switch / stock on the steering column since it was working and the switch was intermittent. It’s an easy fix and I’ve been looking for one on EBay as a cost effective alternative to new. I would rate the interior at 9.9 out of 10

Engine, Suspension, Brakes,

The engine runs extremely well, starts instantly, idles fine and pulls without hesitation to red-line.  This motor is one of BMW’s strongest, most reliable and can easily last for 300K miles.  The transmission operates quietly and shifts smoothly; it is crisp and tight, not sloppy like modern cars.  The clutch engages fully and is rock solid.  There are not leaks, drips or seeping fluids anywhere. The suspension is tight, steering is responsive without play.  The car rides beautifully and handles well.  The brakes are excellent.  There is absolutely nothing mechanically that needs attention.  The only known concern is that I’ve noticed when the gas tank has been filled to the very top there is a slight gas odor when parked afterwards.  The odor goes away once the car has been driven a few miles.  I believe this is a result of overfilling and have since been filling it to 7/8 of a tank without any reoccurrence. I would rate the car mechanically at 9.9 out of 10.

Audiophile 10 Speaker Sound System

Being an audiophile with a degree in Electrical Engineer, and owning a home sound system valued at $10K+,  I set out to design and install a no expense spared sound system into the 733i that would provide concert hall audiophile sound quality without disturbing in any way the original integrity of the interior.  Another important consideration was the desire to obtain access to current sources for high quality audio content including CD’s, High Definition Radio, USB, IPOD, and Pandora along with complete Digital Signal Processing control of all audio parameters such as speaker crossover, equalization, balance, fader, subwoofer output and numerous other tuning factors within the head unit for easy adjustment from the cockpit tailored to an individuals listening preferences.  This was achieved using only the highest quality audio components and installation techniques offered only at the most exclusive car audio installers.  The components alone cost over $2500.00.  All components except for the Amplifier where purchased at Crutchfield where costs can be easily verified.  The installation took place over several months last winter easily taking 50+ hours with close attention to detail and reliability.  To have this system installed at any car audio specialty shop would easily run over $5000.  The end result is a system that looks perfect in every respect and performs flawlessly.  Several individuals with home audio systems similar to mine have auditioned with a critical ear their favorite music and marveled at the sound quality and levels that this system delivers in many cases surpassing that of their home systems.”

Awesome car!  The seller knows these cars well and has gone to great lengths to fix any nagging issues that have popped up.  The interior refresh, wheels, and audio set up are tasteful upgrades as well.

Initially I pegged this as a $9k car, $10k on a good day.  Bidding currently sits at $8,250 and the reserve will be met with the next bid.  This sure seems like a good value in the high $8k low $9k range.  This car does not need much and would be a great combination of comfort and sporty performance.

Here is to hoping it finds a good home.


Reader Ride: 1983 BMW 733i Manual For Sale

There has been a rash of these lately which is odd as these are pretty rare.  This is another in a line of clean 733i cars with a desirable manual transmission.

1983 BMW 733i:

From the seller –

“I have a white1983 BMW 733i with a blue leather interior and a 5 speed manual. It is in great condition for its age but not perfect like the one you had listed last week that went for a little over 10 grand. It is currently listed on eBay and I would love for it to be on your blog.”

… And here it is.  The seller is correct, this is not as pristine as the white one featured two weeks ago but it is a fine automobile in its own right.  The 330i wheels are a nice upgrade and the interior seems to be very well sorted out.  Assuming a PPI checks out this is an very strong value.

Bidding currently sits at $5.7k reserve not met with a few days to go.  At $7.5 this would be a great driver, best of luck to the seller.


Cheapest BMW 7 series out there 1982 733i or BBS RS 005 rims with a free car

Yes we strive to find the finest and the most unique cars out there for you, but sometimes I like to sneak beasties like this into the mix. Its fun for me to have the extremes, I’m following this post up with an amazing Dinan 333i.

No reserve, 177,000, ran when parked 4 years ago, doesn’t start now. It is a New York car and it looks like rust has set in but….

Those gold rims appear to be genuine vintage three piece forged alloy BBS RS 005s or RS 006s and if so they alone are well worth the current high bid of $431. Basically buy yourself a matched set of BBS RS005s or RS006s (hard to tell the size from the photos) and get a free car.

As for the car spend your black Friday shopping money here and have big safe car to give as a present to that mechanically minded highschooler in your family. The later e23 7s have some expensive technological bits, but unlike newer 7s this one can probably be brought back to an acceptable level of service and daily drivability without a trunk load of cash. Get it started, check the brakes, drive it until something major falls off, and then sell it for what you bought for. At this price you can afford a roll of tape and a can of black spray paint to patch the rust spots.

Someone save this one.