1988 BMW 735i 5-speed

1BMW introduced the E32 generation 7-series in 1987. The car’s design was a successful blend of the old and the new. Traditional styling cues – the four headlights, square kidneys and angular lines – kept the car looking fairly restrained and clearly part of the BMW stable. But it was also eminently more modern-looking than its main competitor, the W126 chassis S-class. And perhaps a bit less stately too. If the Mercedes was a car for high level officials and diplomats, the BMW was a car for the young, new titans of the 80s and 90s; Wall Street bankers, lawyers and real estate tycoons. Both cars still look good today, and each can give even the most budget-conscious, contemporary owner a frisson of ultra luxury, albeit 30 years after the fact. But there are hardly any E32s left on the road these days. Whether because of finicky electronics, poor paint and interior materials or just wayward owners who didn’t care for them as they should have, most have been left to rot in junkyards. This makes this low mileage, nicely specified car an attractive proposition.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 735i on eBay

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1988 BMW 750iL

6Last week I wrote up a clean and low-mileage E32 740i, noting that examples of this generation of the 7-series rarely come to market in such decent shape. A few days later, Carter shot me an email with a link to this lovely looking ’88 750iL. The flagship of the E32 lineup, and available only in LWB form, the 750 was powered by a hulking 5.0 liter V12 unit, essentially two six-cylinder motors stuck together. They crop up from time to time on Craigslist and on eBay, but mostly as basket cases, with shot exteriors, torn up interiors and numerous electronic and mechanical gremlins. This car, on the other hand, appears to have received the kind of love and attention that these old cruisers really deserve.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 750iL on eBay

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1993 BMW 740iL

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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

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Worth Restoration? 1988 BMW 735i 5-speed

In recent posts, we’ve both talked about the expense of maintaining an old German luxo-barge and, at the same time, the joy of getting to experience their technical prowess. I mentioned in the Alpina B12 5.0 post that I was lucky enough to experience an E32 5-speed upstream of most of the major repairs they would need if you held onto them long enough. Seemingly in response, suddenly a wave of neat 5-speed E32s appeared. But is the allure of the 5-speed status worth overcoming some obstacles to ownership?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 735i 5-speed on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1991 Alpina B12 5.0

I was quite lucky as a teenager to have some pretty serious metal from Bavaria to cut my teeth on. My father had gotten quite into 1980s BMWs, so we had a few 6-series and even a M5 in the house. But it was the “family” car that I liked the most, believe it or not. That family car was a pretty special one as it was an E32 735i 5-speed. The manual in the large body car might be a bit of an aberration, but as a whole package the E32 was a great car. It was fantastic to drive and felt much lighter on its feet than the size would indicate. It was comfortable, too, in either front or back posts, with rich smelling leather, a modern climate control system and a great sounding stereo. It was a car which ate up highway miles with ease, and outside it was quite a looker, too. It managed to look both more substantial and much better proportioned than the E23, finally integrating the mandated bumpers well into a design that was market leading. In fact, the only area I ever really felt our E32 could have used some help in was to have a bit more motor.

Of course, BMW offered a revolutionary motor in the 750i. It was the first of the big three luxury brands to make the leap to a modern V12, and the M70B50 was a pretty impressive motor on paper. With 300 horsepower from 5.0 liters, it was nearly 100 horsepower north of the M30 mill in our 735i and smooth as silk. As the years progressed though, the M70’s power was nearly matched by the lighter M60 and there was somehow a loss of exuberance about the V12 as a new run of V8 motors proved the impressive mainstays. I have always had a soft spot for the twelve though, and to me none are more special than the very limited production Alpina B12 models:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Alpina B12 5.0 on Hemmings.com

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1990 Alpina B12 5.0

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Well, folks, I have a new all-time favorite E32. Last time I made that claim it was a beautiful black on black example with M-Parallels and a nice front spoiler. I’ve long been a fan of Alpina’s recent B7s and think they’ve made the last two generations of 7-series much more attractive. Same thing here, with the often-frumpy E32 getting the full Alpina treatment with more power, a great front spoiler, and the classic striping. And the wheels, the evergreen, always gorgeous 20-spoke wheels. The 5.0-liter V12 gets much more than just a chip treatment, with higher-compression pistons and lots of valve work bringing the power from 300hp to 350hp. Lots of show, lots of go, this is a kickass 7-series.

Click for details: 1990 Alpina B12 5.0 on eBay

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1988 BMW 750iL with 12k miles – REVISIT

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Following on to the 1989 BMW 750iL we featured yesterday, here is possibly one of the lowest mileage V12 E32s in existence. We featured this car four years ago and its back up for sale with barely any more mileage tacked on.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 BMW 750iL on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site September 11, 2011:

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1989 BMW 750iL

The 7 series might have a tradition of being one of the priciest vehicles in the BMW lineup, but like many luxury sedans, depreciation takes hold quickly. Thus, it’s not uncommon to see many clapped out examples of Munich’s finest flooding the used market, tempting those who might want a slice of the good life but who are ill prepared for the cost of their upkeep. Occasionally, you’ll find a one or two owner example that has been cared for the right way, such as this example for sale in Vancouver. A 26-year-old, twelve cylinder BMW with over six figures in mileage is still a scary proposition to some. However, if you must have one, this wouldn’t be a bad starting point.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 BMW 750iL on eBay

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Near-flagship status: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL vs. 1989 BMW 735iL

German manufacturers were riding high in the 1980s, solidifying their reputation as makers of some of the world’s best automobiles and introducing new models at a rapid clip. When it was introduced in 1980, the W126 Mercedes-Benz S-class was at the pinnacle of automotive technology. Almost a decade later, it was beginning to show its age but people still loved this car for it’s stately manner and stellar build quality. BMW took the executive car fight right to Stuttgart’s doorstep in 1987 with the introduction of the E32 7 series sedan. Larger and more powerful than its predecessor, this luxury sedan offered V12 power, eclipsing the 5.6 liter V8 at the top of the S-class range.

Today we’ll look at two of the lower-end models in the executive portfolio of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, both with under 30,000 miles on the clock. We’ll start with this 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL for sale in Arizona.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on Hemmings Motor News

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Tuner Tuesday: 1990 Alpina B11 3.5

While many celebrate the E38 as the highpoint of 7-series design, I prefer the look of the E32. Perhaps that, in part, is because I was lucky enough to live with one for some time – one of the rare ’88 5-speeds, it was a car that I always enjoyed driving and especially enjoyed looking at. Granted, you could rightly claim that the E32 was stylistically not much more than a stretched E34. Is that such a bad thing, though? To me, the design language transferred really well and the E32 was well proportioned, modern looking and yet immediately identifiable as a large BMW,and yet muscular flares and a slight tick up in the body line towards the trunk was a built-in spoiler. The E38 took this design and refined it even more, with sleeker lines and a more dramatic drop in front – probably one of the main reasons, along with some killer wheels, that people prefer the later design. But outfit an E32 with lower suspension, a deeper air dam and some killer wheels, and the design is pretty awesome. The stripes don’t hurt, either – nor does the top-tier name Alpina painted all over:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Alpina B11 3.5 on eBay

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