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BMW 7 Series (E38)

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Title: BMW 7 Series (E38)  
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BMW 7 Series (E38)

BMW 7-Series (E38)
Manufacturer BMW
Production 1994–2001
340,242 built[1][2]
Assembly Dingolfing, Germany
Toluca, Mexico[3]
Designer Boyke Boyer (1990)
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car (F)
Body style 4-door saloon
4-door limousine
Layout FR layout
Transmission 5-speed manual
6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,930 mm (115 in)
3,070 mm (121 in) (LWB)
3,320 mm (131 in) (L7)
Length 4,984 mm (196.2 in)
5,124 mm (201.7 in) (LWB)
5,378 mm (211.7 in) (L7)
Width 1,862 mm (73.3 in)
Height 1,425 mm (56.1 in)
1,435 mm (56.5 in) (LWB)
Curb weight 1,710 kg (3,770 lb)
2,185 kg (4,817 lb) (LWB)
2,270 kg (5,000 lb) (L7)
Predecessor BMW E32
Successor BMW E65

The BMW E38 model was the basis for the 1995 through 2001 BMW 7 Series automobiles. In early 1988, development began on the third generation 7-series codenamed "Entwicklung 99". From 1989 to 1990 styling work was done, when Boyke Boyer's concept design was chosen and further refined into production form with engineers. During 1991, the final production design for the new 7-series was approved by the board 36 months ahead of production. On April 27, 1993 German design patents were filed featuring a pre-production prototype as a design representation. Patents were later filed on October 27, 1993 in the United States. In early 1994, development concluded and in May 1994, the 1995 E38 BMW 7-Series was unveiled. Production started on February 17, 1994 on pilot production variants, with series production commencing in the second half of the year.[4]


  • Specifications 1
  • E38 models 2
  • Model history 3
    • 1995 3.1
    • 1996 3.2
    • 1997 3.3
    • 1998 mid-life facelift 3.4
    • 1999 3.5
    • 2000 3.6
    • 2001 3.7
  • Extended Wheelbase L7 4
  • Flexible Electronics System 5
  • Film 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The E38 models were offered with either a five-speed automatic or manual transmission; the 730d, 740d, 740i/iL, and 750i/iL had a 5-speed ZF automatic standard. The engine variants in Europe were 725tds, 728i, 730i, 730d, 735i, 740i (4.0 and 4.4 L), 740d and 750i. In the Americas, the models were sold as the 740i, 740iL and 750iL. The 740i/iL were powered by a 4.4 L V8 engine. The base prices in 2001 were US$62,900 for the 740i, US$66,900 for the 740iL and US$92,100 for the 750iL. The considerably rarer 5.4 L V12 was BMW's flagship vehicle, with a 5.4 L 322 bhp (240 kW; 326 PS) engine, also shared by the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. V8 and V12 cars had long-wheelbase variants, with the "L" added to the designation. A rare European executive long-wheelbase limousine model was also produced, called the BMW L7, available as both 740iL (4.4 L V8) and 750iL (5.4 L V12) variants. Protection Line light-armored vehicles were built from 2000–2001, again utilizing the 740iL and 750iL platforms, and cost US$99,100 and US$124,400, respectively. These models included body armor, bullet-resistant glass and run-flat tires.

Features of the E38 7 Series included Four-link integral rear suspension, EDC III Electronic Damper Control, ASC+T traction control, high-pressure headlight washers, auto-leveling low beam xenon HID headlamps, power moonroof, a sound system with 14 speakers and four subwoofers as well as 6-disc CD changer, onboard automotive navigation system (1994-1996 MKI based on the VDO-Dayton Carin system, 1997-2000 MKII based on the Phillips system with separate Trimble Navigation receiver, 2001 MKIII based on the Phillips system with internal Trimble Navigation receiver. The E38 7 Series never had the factory DVD-ROM based Navigation system [5] (although upgrading to this system is a simple process) and rain-sensing wipers. Other features included an automatic climate control system with separate controls for the driver and passenger, a three-position memory system for the driver’s seat, safety-belt height, new steering wheel and outside mirrors. Front-seat side airbags and a Head Protection System (HPS) airbag were also standard. The 750iL featured an all-leather interior with burl walnut trim, while the sport model featured Sports seats and "Vavona" wood trim. The continuous-motion Active Comfort Seat technology was introduced in 1998 to improve comfort and reduce fatigue for the driver and front passenger.

When the E38 was phased out in 2001 to make way for the new E65, sales of E38s increased noticeably in the car's final months of sales as people moved to buy the car before it was replaced for the 2002 model year. The E65's radical styling and iDrive were not initially well received by consumers, so used E38s increased in value as demand increased. Also contributing to the E38's continued popularity was its appearance in several films such as Tomorrow Never Dies, The Transporter, Bimmer and The Game. The E38 740i featured in the BMW Film Ambush, even though it was the only featured car in the series to be replaced the following year.

E38 models

Model Volume Engine Fuel Power/Torque Years produced Produced
728i 2.8L M52B28 I6 Petrol 142 kW (193 PS; 190 hp) / 280 N·m (207 lb·ft) 1996–2001 38947
728iL 2.8L M52B28 I6 Petrol 142 kW (193 PS; 190 hp) / 280 N·m (207 lb·ft) 1996–2001 6816
730i 3.0L M60B30 V8 Petrol 160 kW (218 PS; 215 hp) / 290 N·m (214 lb·ft) 1994–1996 20876
730iL 3.0L M60B30 V8 Petrol 160 kW (218 PS; 215 hp) / 290 N·m (214 lb·ft) 1994–1996 2137
735i 3.5L M62B35 V8 Petrol 173 kW (235 PS; 232 hp) / 320 N·m (236 lb·ft) 1994–1997 21481
735i 3.5L M62TUB35 V8 Petrol 174 kW (237 PS; 233 hp) / 345 N·m (254 lb·ft) 1998–2001
735iL 3.5L M62B35 V8 Petrol 173 kW (235 PS; 232 hp) / 320 N·m (236 lb·ft) 1994–1997 6963
735iL 3.5L M62TUB35 V8 Petrol 174 kW (237 PS; 233 hp) / 345 N·m (254 lb·ft) 1998–2001
740i 4.0L M60B40 V8 Petrol 210 kW (286 PS; 282 hp) / 400 N·m (295 lb·ft) 1994–1996
740iL 4.0L M60B40 V8 Petrol 210 kW (286 PS; 282 hp) / 400 N·m (295 lb·ft) 1994–1996
740i 4.4L M62B44 V8 Petrol 210 kW (286 PS; 282 hp) / 420 N·m (310 lb·ft) 1996–1998 88853
740i 4.4L M62TUB44 V8 Petrol 210 kW (286 PS; 282 hp) / 440 N·m (325 lb·ft) 1998–2001
740iL 4.4L M62B44 V8 Petrol 210 kW (286 PS; 282 hp) / 420 N·m (310 lb·ft) 1996–1998 91431
740iL 4.4L M62TUB44 V8 Petrol 210 kW (286 PS; 282 hp) / 440 N·m (325 lb·ft) 1998–2001
750i-iL 5.4L M73B54 V12 Petrol 240 kW (326 PS; 322 hp) / 490 N·m (361 lb·ft) 1995–1997 15759
750i-iL 5.4L M73TUB54 V12 Petrol 240 kW (326 PS; 322 hp) / 490 N·m (361 lb·ft) 1998–2001 5707
L7 5.4L M73B54/M73TUB54 V12 Petrol 240 kW (326 PS; 322 hp) / 490 N·m (361 lb·ft) 1997–2001 899
725tds 2.5L M51D25 turbocharged I6 Diesel 105 kW (143 PS; 141 hp) / 280 N·m (207 lb·ft) 1995–2001 9053
730d 2.9L M57D30 turbocharged I6 Diesel 142 kW (193 PS; 190 hp) / 410 N·m (302 lb·ft) 1998–2001 12336
740d 3.9L M67D40 turbocharged V8 Diesel 180 kW (245 PS; 241 hp) / 560 N·m (413 lb·ft) 1998–2001 3450

Model history


  • E38 Production begins in 1994 for the 1995 Model Year replacing the E32. Initial production E38s were available with either a 2.5L and 3.0L Turbodiesel I6 or 3.0L and 4.0L M60 V8 or the 5.4L M73 V12 engine.
  • US Model Range includes the 740i, 740iL and 750iL.

1995 E38 used an aluminium block with Nikasil plated cylinder bores - nickel containing silicon carbide particles. Unfortunately, excessive sulphur from fuel reacts adversely with the nickel, causing very slight blemishes in the top few millimeters of the cylinder bore.[6] This is no longer an issue today as US fuel companies reduced the levels of sulfur in their fuel to acceptable levels in the late 1990s.


  • 750i included Steptronic automatic transmission with manual shift mode.
  • 728i and 735i were launched with traction control, ABS, alloy wheels, dual airbags, air-conditioning, leather upholstery, and electric front seats.
  • 740i and 740iL changed from the M60 4.0 L to the M62 4.4 L V8 engine.
  • Steptronic and traction control become standard on 730i, 740i, and 740iL. Steptronic is not available in the North American market until 1999 when the 740i ZSP Sport Package was offered.
  • An Alpina sports suspension, onboard TV and satellite navigation system were offered as options.


1996 740iA interior
  • Worlds first production car with front passenger head airbags. In late 1997 the 1998 model year 7-series and E39 5-series were fitted with a tubular shaped head side airbags (Inflatable Tubular Structure (ITS)),[7] the "Head Protection System (HPS)" as optional equipment.[8] This airbag was designed to offer head protection in side impact collisions and also maintained inflation for up to seven seconds for rollover protection.
  • 730i/730i SE and 735i/735i SE launched. Equipment includes central locking, front fog lamps and electric heated mirrors; 735i has rear head restraints and electric front seats; 730i SE has a sunroof; 735i SE has air-conditioning, cruise control and leather.
  • Revisions midway through the model year include automatic air-conditioning on 728i/735i; on-board computer on 728i;
  • xenon headlamps became standard on 750i/750iL.
  • The 750iL (actually a re-badged 740iL) is extensively featured in the high grossing James Bond series film Tomorrow Never Dies.

1998 mid-life facelift

  • 740d introduced with a 3.9L M67 V8 twin-turbocharged diesel engine.[9]
  • A new ZSP option (Sport Package) includes an Alpina suspension, multi-spoke alloys, sports seats and shadowline exterior trim.
  • Revisions midway through the model year include new front and rear lights, a revised grille, black side sills and valances, and a remote locking with memory system
  • DSC III (Dynamic Stability Control) now standard on all 7 series models
  • Satellite navigation system become standard on 750i and 750iL
  • HPS or Head Protection System front passenger head airbags is introduced and offered as standard on all 7 series models (indicated by HPS badge on interior A-pillar)
  • 'Facelift' from 9/98 production featuring 'scalloped' headlamps, new front fenders with shorter turn signal lenses and side fascia improvements (including elimination of the visible jackpoints)


The front side of 1999 E38 728i
The rear side of 1998–2000 E38 735i
  • The 735 and 740 models receive an improved M62TU V8 engine with single VANOS variable valve timing. The 4.4 engine gets a marked increase in torque from 420 to 440 N·m (310 to 325 lb·ft). Horsepower remains at 210 kW (286 PS; 282 hp).
  • A Sport Package becomes available for the 740i which includes: blacked-out exterior "shadowline" trim, Vavona redwood interior trim, 18-way adjustable sport seats, staggered 18-inch (460 mm) alloy wheels, a stiffer M inspired suspension with thicker front and rear anti-sway bars, Steptronic Transmission with higher stall-speed torque converter, and a higher 3.15 final drive ratio (versus 2.92).
  • The 750 receives an improved M73N 5.4 liter V12 engine making a slight increase in power and torque.
  • The 750 now includes Electric Catalytic Converter, or "E-CAT", assemblies. Heating coils inside the catalytic converter assemblies are electrified just after engine start, bringing the catalyst up to operating temperature very quickly to qualify the vehicle for Low emission vehicle (LEV) designation.[10] This system required the use of a two-battery system. Since 1995 Alpina has included this electrically heated catalyst, developed jointly by Emitec, Alpina and BMW, which they called "E-KAT", in their B12 5,7 E-KAT sedan based on the BMW 750.[11]


  • A number of previously optional features become standard, including Xenon headlamps, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, headlight washers, GPS navigation, and upgraded audio including DSP and 6-disc CD changer
  • The sport package is extended to include the 740iL but without the same performance enhancing features as the 740i receives. The 740iL Sport maintains the same visual cues as the 740i Sport such as vavona redwood trim, shadowline exterior trim and 18" staggered alloy wheels. The iL comes standard with EDC for improved handling.
  • In Europe, Adaptive Cruise Control became available as an option.


2001 E38 740iL (Facelifted) (US)
  • Final year of E38 sales with production ending in July 2001.

The last E38 (a silver 740i with black leather interior) rolled off BMW's assembly line on July 27, 2001 to make way for the new E65.

  • Body-colored side skirts and bumper facias, which were previously flat black.
  • Clear front and rear turn signal lenses replace amber-colored lenses.
  • More previously optional features become standard, including a Motorola StarTAC or Motorola TimePort (depending on date of production) with BMW Assist telemetry system.
  • Widescreen Navigation and a faster CD based navigation computer were phased in from 9/00 production on all models.
  • (US Models) Power folding exterior mirrors are now standard on the 750iL, and included in the optional convenience package on all other models.

Extended Wheelbase L7

1997 E38 L7 exterior
1997 E38 L7 rear interior

From 1997 to 2001, BMW sold an extended wheelbase version of the E38; the 5.37-metre-long L7, also known as the 750iXL. Based on the 750iL with a 12-cylinder engine, it had a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). 899 examples were built. The L7 was only available in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe. The 2000-2001 models had the privacy glass option which gave the luxury of separating the driver from the back passenger.

Flexible Electronics System

Since the start of production the entire in-car entertainment system (Radio Function, Navigation System, Television and Telecommunications systems) is based on a very flexible automotive computer system.[12] As a result the E38 models can all be easily upgraded with the newest BMW technologies including BMW's Bluetooth System, the DVD based Navigation system, as well as BMW's CD changers that play MP3s[13]


BMW 7 Series car from Tomorrow Never Dies, seen at an exhibition at Museum Industriekultur, Nuremberg.

Contributing to the E38's continued popularity was its appearance in several films such as Tomorrow Never Dies (750iL), Bumer "Бумер" (750iL), Enemy of the State (740iL), Invictus (740iL), Bad Santa (740iL), Fun with Dick and Jane (740iL), Valley of the Wolves (TV series) (L7), Showtime (740i), The Transporter (735i) which was a one off manual 750i badged as a 735i, "Live Free or Die Hard" which was a 2000 740i, and The Game (740iL). Even though it was the only featured car in the series to be replaced the following year, the E38 featured in the BMW Film Ambush which was released in fall 2001.

In the 18th James Bond feature film Tomorrow Never Dies, the sixteen E38 cars used during production were modified so they could be driven from the backseat. The car type is actually a BMW 740iL but they were re-badged as the 750iL. One survives today and can be seen at exhibition “TOP SECRET” at Museum Industriekultur, Nuremberg. Besides the 7 Series saloons, BMW also supplied a $14,000 R1200C motorcycle. BMW received the rights to use movie clips from the film in its multimillion-dollar campaign, and during the 1997 holiday season they offered a special promotion that included the R1200C with the purchase of the 750iL.[14]


  1. ^ Kittler, Eberhard (2001). Deutsche Autos seit 1990, Band 5 (1. ed.). Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag.  
  2. ^ Auto Katalog, 2003 edition, p. 312. Note: Figures include early E65 production.
  3. ^ "Vehicle manufacturer profiles". Automotive World. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "MKIV". Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  6. ^ "Koala Motorsport - tech-home". Archived from the original on 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  7. ^ Inflatable Tubular Structure (ITS)
  8. ^ BMW of North America (30 October 1997). "BMW Head Protection System Sets New Standard in Side-Impact Protection in Latest IIHS Crash Test" (Press release). Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  9. ^ BMW Group Press Club of South Africa (17 July 2013). "30 years BMW diesel engines, BMW 740d, V8 diesel engine (1998)" (Press release). BMW Group Press Club of South Africa. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  10. ^ Edgar, Julian (5 October 1999). "Goodbye 12 volts... hello 42 volts!". Autospeed. Retrieved 2 January 2012. The current model BMW 750iL has a maximum electrical load of a staggering 428 amps (5.9 kW)! In this car, over half of the maximum power load is from the short-term electrical heating of the catalytic converters, with the heating used so that they come up to operating temp quickly 
  11. ^ "Milestones". Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  12. ^ "BMW Bus System" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  13. ^ "Bimmernav". Bimmernav. Archived from the original on 16 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-06. 
  14. ^ "BOND OF GOLD | Tomorrow Never Dies | Movie News | Movies | Entertainment Weekly | 2". 1997-11-28. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 

External links

  • BMW 7 Series at DMOZ
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