E38 BMW. What's the best engine to go for?

E38 BMW. What's the best engine to go for?

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DeanR32

Original Poster:

1,833 posts

170 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Morning all

As the title says, I'm looking for one of these at the moment. I'd love a V8 but I don't know if there's any weak points in these engines, and correct me if I'm wrong, but there seems to be two of them. I need reliability, so what engine will most likely give me no problems, in whatever guise (6,8 or 12cyl)? Fuel economy not an issue but I'm only looking to spend 2.5k on one (3k if it's the perfect car).

If I can't make up my mind on one, I'll have to resort to an E46!

Cheers

Sump

5,484 posts

154 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
That 728i has one of those M52 type engines. They're super reliable.

Just the usual crap cooling system but the engine is solid. Also there is something about fuel tanks with these cars.

DeanR32

Original Poster:

1,833 posts

170 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Cheers for the reply mate.

Just thinking about it, if I can't find a tidy V8/12, I'll more likely go for an E46 touring with a 3.0 (diesel or petrol).

What's the problem with the tanks?

hornetrider

63,161 posts

192 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
DeanR32 said:
What's the problem with the tanks?
They rust and leak.

DeanR32

Original Poster:

1,833 posts

170 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Ok mate, cheers. If I go for one, I'll be sure to check it.

Are there any other points I need to look out for? Electrical issues, bodywork, engine/transmission problems?

Lowtimer

4,263 posts

155 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Apart from the rusting fuel tank (which is plastic on the E39, and I *think* is plastic on the E46 too) they have pretty much the same issues as the E46 or E39 (with similar engines). Rust is the biggie. Cooling systems need regular refreshment on all of them, and any car that hasn't had a recent suspension rebuild should be treated and priced as needing one. The 7-series are all automatic and a lot of the auto boxes fail from around 120,000 miles on, due to the 'sealed for life' fallacy, so keep a wedge handy for a transmission rebuild.

I wouldn't bother with a V12, personally: I find the 4.4 V8 the pick of the bunch and the 728i is adequate if you don't mind a relaxed but smooth drive.

Any of these cars can hand you a big bill but they are lovely when they are working properly.

Edited by Lowtimer on Wednesday 28th May 14:38

Sump

5,484 posts

154 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Lowtimer said:
due to the 'sealed for life' fallacy,
No, that's just forum rubbish.

The real reason they fail is due to a poor quality seal in the torque converter around the inner shaft.

Gramrugby

536 posts

195 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
I've had 2 728's and 2 740's all sport models. They have all have been extremely reliable with no issues other than routine servicing.
I would pick the 740 every time. My current car has less than 10k and mint. Used sparingly to keep it that way.

DeanR32

Original Poster:

1,833 posts

170 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Gramrugby said:
I've had 2 728's and 2 740's all sport models. They have all have been extremely reliable with no issues other than routine servicing.
I would pick the 740 every time. My current car has less than 10k and mint. Used sparingly to keep it that way.
Get some pictures up of it!

Should I be looking for a certain model, as in a facelift model, or certain upgraded parts etc?

Cheers for this by the way lads

Gramrugby

536 posts

195 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
I don't have any. I work in London and live in Scotland. I use the BMW whilst in London.
Look at www.gmscars.co.uk you'll see it there, it's obvious which one. I can highly recommend
GMS they only stock the best.

DeanR32

Original Poster:

1,833 posts

170 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
That is really nice mate. Stunning motor.

They seem few and far between in good shape. I'll keep scanning the ads and see what I come up with

I'd love one in silver though. Lovely car again

Lowtimer

4,263 posts

155 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Sump said:
No, that's just forum rubbish.

The real reason they fail is due to a poor quality seal in the torque converter around the inner shaft.
So apart from that they can do 500,000 miles and 20 years on the original fluid and filter, can they?

Anyway, from the OP's point of view you have to regard the autobox as a potential point of expensive failure, regardless of the cause. I had two go at the usual mileage on E39s.

bmthnick1981

5,304 posts

203 months

Wednesday 28th May 2014
quotequote all
Gramrugby said:
My current car has less than 10k and mint. Used sparingly to keep it that way.
Very nice! Must be one of the lowest mileage e38's out there.

I have had 3 x e38's, 1 x 740il, 1 x 750il and my current SWB 750i.

The tank issue has been mentioned, the EDC shocks on the V12's should be checked. The usual suspension arms and bushes wear out and need refreshing in due course. Cooling systems on all engines. My 740i had a snapped ignition barrel or something not sure if that's a common fault though.

Many say the 4.4 V8 is the pick of the range and I will agree it is a fantastic engine. I would say the 286bhp claim by BMW is conservative and indeed owner's who have rolling road tested their cars have sometimes reported more power from stock engines. Whilst the V12 power is similar on paper the delivery and experience is very different in my opinion. The v12 is near silent unless provoked (the v12's are double glazed also so this helps keep noise out as well), I find the V12 smoother and almost turbine like, there is power all throughout the rev range whenever you want it. The cost, of course, is fuel, the v12 is thirsty, I get 14 mpg ish round town and mid 20's on a run, touched 27 mpg once.

There used to be quite a bit of e38 chat on the 1-5 barge thread but it's mostly Merc stuff over there now.

If you have any specific questions let me know and if I can help I will.

E24man

5,873 posts

166 months

Thursday 29th May 2014
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DeanR32 said:
E38 BMW. What's the best engine to go for?
Surely this.....



Or this....



For this.....



DeanR32

Original Poster:

1,833 posts

170 months

Thursday 29th May 2014
quotequote all
I make you right E24. The problem is with my budget. It's pretty small so the better end of the market is out of bounds for me.

If I didn't need the doors, I'd be looking for an E24! I'd have to raise the budget mind!

Gramrugby

536 posts

195 months

Thursday 29th May 2014
quotequote all
Very few of those around. Only one I know of belongs to a friend of mine in Aberdeen and it's not for sale.

E24man

5,873 posts

166 months

Thursday 29th May 2014
quotequote all
It was a little tongue in cheek of course; the 6.0 cars are quite particular about the oil they use with several documented Alpina factory re-builds because the wrong oil was initially specified.

There are 17 rhd cars in the UK at the moment; 8 x 5.7, 6 x 6.0, 1 x 5.7 langversion (lwb) and 1 x 6.0 lwb which was imported from Japan a few years ago. There are also two other rhd 6.0 lwb cars that have been spotted; one in the U.S. and one in Japan.

FilH

414 posts

131 months

Friday 30th May 2014
quotequote all
Can't say anything about the straight 6 and v8 versions.

But my daily drive is a swb 750 and I can't fault it, no idea what I'd replace it with?

quite, effortless to drive, and goes very well when you want it too wink

DeanR32

Original Poster:

1,833 posts

170 months

Wednesday 18th June 2014
quotequote all
Sorry for the thread revival, but I'm actively looking now. Infact, I could do with a car this weekend as I lose my courtesy car Tuesday.

Cars in my budget seem to all be between 100-150k miles. Should I discount cars with these sort of mileages?

Also, although the general consensus seems to be the 4.4 is the best of the bunch, are cars with the 3.5 V8 worth considering?

And are there any must have options?

Cheers again

Dannbodge

2,059 posts

108 months

Thursday 19th June 2014
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Don't worry too much about mileage.

Go on history and condition.

After all would you want a car with 50k on that's been serviced once or a car on 150k that gets every little thing it needs and has been serviced 25 times.