BMW 740i (E38): Spotted

The latest BMW 7 Series is a handsome car from almost every angle - but its April Fool's joke of a snout has even the frequently divided world of automotive enthusiasts united in derision. The situation at launch wasn't too dissimilar from Chris Bangle's notorious rethink of the same model, which attracted comparable scorn in the early 2000s, albeit for the styling of the opposite end of the car.

Nowadays Bangle's design looks rather smart, likely falling into the 'ahead of its time' section of BMW's back catalogue - though if the same is to ever become true of the facelifted G11 iteration, I'm not sure that's a future I want to live in. Luckily today's Spotted is an antidote to all that; an example of the lineage which needs no equivocation.

With its smart, broad lines, bulging arches and upright stance, the E38 7 Series managed to look both dignified and sporty at the same time - comfortable yet purposeful, a thoroughbred saloon fit for A-roads and Autobahns alike.

Under the bonnet a range of engine provided the go to match the show. No, our hero may not boast the 5.4-litre V12 of the 750, with its 322hp, 361lb ft and ultimate bragging rights, but your wallet will likely thank you for that down the road. Instead we must make do with the 282hp and 325lb ft of our Spotted's 4.4-litre V8 - still a lot of engine, if not a prodigious output, nearly two decades on.

To sweeten the deal further, the 740i in question is a one-owner car. With just 43,000 miles on the clock (that's less than 2,400 miles a year) and a fastidious service history, it seems to be in excellent shape. Those multi-spoke radial wheels look to be in fantastic condition, their perfect ratio of rim to rubber filling the arches just so.

And being a 7-Series, many of the mod-cons you'd still pay extra for on a car today are present and correct - it was the first European model to be available with sat-nav, after all. There's heated front and rear seats, dual-zone climate control, power folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers, a multifunction sports steering wheel, it's even got an electric rear blind. The claimed sunroof does seem conspicuous in its absence, though...

Sure, some of those electrics may prove to be irksome during ownership, and if this particular car has been specced with the optional double-glazed windows then delamination may be a concern - but then again it may not. Either way you'll have one of the most handsome saloons ever made, powered by a silky smooth V8 to waft around in; a car that was fit for 007, no less. Okay, so Brosnan's Bond may have had the V12 (naturally) but who's really going to know? In an era when new cars really can navigate a car park with the touch of a phone, this old pretender is still where my money would go.


4,398cc V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 282
Torque (lb ft): 325
CO2: N/A
First registered: 2001
Recorded mileage: 43,000
Price new: £45,000 (2001)
Yours for: £9,495

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Comments (68) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Numeric 01 May 2019

    For me the high point for BMW - a time when it's products were so clearly better than everyone else's and their styling so incredibly resolved. Sure the odd wrong-un (Z3 take a bow) but overall after the E46 & E39 et al the superiority just faded away...

    That was the Wolfgang and crowd and boy those folks were good.

  • deltashad 01 May 2019

    I think the latest generation 7 is a great looking car. Before that, the last attractive 7 was the e38. I was not a huge e39 fan, small kidney grill e34 in SE spec was a fabulous design.

  • la5tn1nja 01 May 2019

    A beauty. Not sure time has been so kind to Bangle’s one.

  • andy43 01 May 2019

    Makes the current tat look like chinese xmas decorations.

  • Halo in reverse 01 May 2019

    E38 - IMHO one of the best looking saloons of the last 25 years, prices only going 1 way now.

    Z3 wrong un......really ? It's looks have aged so well compared to other cars of the same era (step up Boxster), obv the Z3 was not as good to drive as the Box but its the Z3 market that is climbing upwards right now

    Edited by Halo in reverse on Wednesday 1st May 07:59

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