The E31 was BMW’s first real attempt at integrating lots of computer designs and controls into one of their road cars. The clean-sheet design resulted in a 2-door grand tourer that shared some visual similarities with the great M1, but stood apart as a more practical cruiser. Unlike the E24, the windows could fully drop, revealing a graceful pillarless design to match the sweeping greenhouse. The sharp nose amazingly hid an even larger motor than its predecessor; in fact, it was basically two conjoined M20s. That configuration certainly has some drawbacks, but there was no denying that the 850i had serious presence and credentials with the M70 V12 kicking out 300 horsepower.
However, BMW softened the character of what potentially could have been a screamer. Many were outfit with 16″ wheels for a better ride and tied to an automatic transmission. This was truly a GT car, and not the supercar slayer that BMW teased with its M8 Concept. That vision ultimately became the manual-only 850CSi, but upgrades later in the run saw the introduction of the V8 840Ci and the revised M73 5.4 liter V12 in the 850Ci. This one is a bit special, having run through the hands of BMW’s Individual department before being sent to Mexico:
Do you only have $7k to spend on a car? Do you still want to look like a BOSS?
Then you should buy this E38 750iL. That is, of course, after you’ve put it through a PPI to make sure it isn’t about to grenade, and talked with your bank manager (slash significant other) to check you can afford the fuel and maintenance on this V12-powered cruise missile. The long-wheelbase E38 7-series is a real bruiser and a looker, especially in black: a behemoth in a bespoke suit. And while the electronics on BMW’s V12 motors are notoriously expensive to fix when they go wrong, the 5.4 liter SOHC M73 engine itself is fairly reliable. While power output at 320 hp is relatively modest for such a large lump, there’s plenty of low-down torque, the unit doesn’t suffer from the timing chain/guide failures that afflict V8s from the same era and, according to some on the forums, even manages to return a reasonable 24 MPG on the highway. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it. The relatively puny M50 six cylinder in my E34 only manages a few more than that.
BMW has traditionally taken large measures to set its biggest sedan platform apart. In the case of the first 7, the E23, BMW offered an ultra-luxury oriented version replete with full leather accoutrements inside. Dubbed the “L7″, it was an expensive and very exclusive model. When BMW moved on to the E32, it distinguished the large lineup with an extended wheelbase model which added 5” of legroom. This matched the long standard extended wheelbase S-Class models, but Audi had outdone BMW and Mercedes-Benz with their D11 chassis Lang V8 quattro, which added a full foot (30 cm) to the wheelbase of the normal V8 quattro. Having also stepped up the motor in the E32 to the double-six 5 liter M70 V12, BMW was left with a few options when it came to the next 7; they took all of these items and combined them into one ultra-luxurious, ultra-long wheelbase 750iL: