The E38 7-series is a firm favorite around these parts, a throwback to the pre-Bangle era in BMW styling’s department, before things got all fussy and bloated. With its angular lines and restrained, good looks, the E38 is a bit like a bouncer in a bespoke suit: brawny but sophisticated looking. Given that many of them were pressed into service as executive transportation, it’s not surprising they mostly appear in subdued colors like black, silver or gray. But every now and again a more adventurously colored car pops up, like this low-mileage example for sale in California.
Consider this the latest in my series of “nowadays it’s really hard to find an early 90s BMW that hasn’t been trashed, but this one looks good” posts. I’ve always really admired the E32, the iteration of the 7-series built between 1986 and 1994. The very definition of a stealthy, executive express, it’s a big body car that dates from an era of BMW styling which combined angular lines, conservative, teutonic good looks and classic BMW cues like the wide kidney grille and four-lamp headlights. In many ways these cars look a lot like the E34, the 5-series of the same era, just bigger and brawnier.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 BMW 740iL on eBay
What is your tolerance for risk? That’s the question you need to ask yourself if you’re thinking about buying a cheap, high mileage German executive sedan. The used car market is littered with them: cars whose values have fallen so far off a cliff that they can now be had for a fraction of their original price. This E38 740iL is one such car, on sale for just $3,800. Let that sink in for a moment: a mere thirty eight hundred dollars (EDIT: it’s listed even cheaper on their website at $3,100). The yuppie bike store a few blocks from my house sells bicycles that are more expensive than that. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? Sure, the asking price might simply turn out to be the cost of entry into money-pit hell. But on the other hand, if you go in with your eyes open, and especially if you can turn a wrench yourself, this could be a great deal on a cool car that lets you live out your Transporter fantasies on a shoestring budget.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 BMW 740iL on eBay
I can’t shake dreams of the E38 as a great way to get mega luxury and sportiness for bargain prices. Today’s final-year example comes with the Sport package, forgoing the best suspension tweaks bringing the outstanding visuals of Shadowline trim and M-Parallel wheels. Your 6-foot-plus friends will appreciate the rear legroom while you can enjoy crisp handling, smooth V8 power, and a sumptuous leather interior with decent, pre-iDrive technology. Especially handsome in this Steel Blue metallic and practically new with less than 60k miles, you can get that CEO look for mailboy money here.
Click for details: 2001 BMW 740iL on eBay
Two large German sedans from the last three decades stand out in my mind as perhaps the most beloved. The Mercedes-Benz W126 S-class and the car you see here, the BMW E38 7 series. While the BMW E32 7 series moved the luxury car chains in the late 1980s, the E38 refined the breed, carrying on the option of the smooth V12 at the top of the range while streamlining the classic BMW styling hallmarks we know and love just a bit. This final year 740iL for sale in Florida has the Sport Package, which includes the sought after Style 37 M-Parallel alloy wheels. Having covered less than 50,000 miles, this burgundy beauty has a lot of life left in it.