∙Classic BMW V12 with under 100k on the clock ∙Three owners from new ∙Full MoT and no corrosion advisories
The ‘E38’ generation of BMW 7-Series is, to this day, regarded as a high watermark for BMW. It was a car that was not only clinically styled and beautifully executed, but also technologically advanced.
It was also the first car in the world to get curtain airbags and the first to come with integrated sat nav and digital radio – commonplace today, but the absolute pinnacle of high tech back then.
Styling-wise, it was evolutionary. The looks weren’t that different to the E32 generation of 7-Series that it replaced, but under the skin it was a hugely advanced car, with innovative forged aluminium, double wishbone control arms and complex multi-link suspension, which gave it the handling characteristics of a much lighter and smaller car.
Add in 14-way adjustable seats that won comfort awards of their own, a spacious and beautifully engineered cabin, opulent furnishings and pure presence and it’s easy to see why the 7-Series came to be regarded as one of the best cars in the world – a fitting and deserved accolade.
This example is in many ways the ultimate E38 – a 750i with BMW’s wonderful 5.4-litre V12 under the bonnet. It’s also extremely rare, being a short-wheelbase V12 and not the longer iL model normally found in such a configuration.
Finished in Biaritz Blue, it is smartly presented and has just passed an MOT test.
This is a three-owner-from-new car that has covered under 98,000 miles in 23 years, averaging just over 4,000 miles per year. This is backed up by the online MoT history which shows a very limited but consistent pattern of use since 2005.
It was acquired by the present owner last year as he is working his way through a list of cars he wants to own and experience, and he has put it through a fresh MoT ready to sell.
Although it has had very limited ownership, there is no service history with the car as this was misplaced by the second owner. As such, the only paperwork supplied with it consists of a V5C in the current keeper’s name and the new MoT certificate issued by a garage in Cambridge.
The cabin of the E38 is a beautiful place to sit, with excellent ergonomics and hugely comfortable seats. In this case, the chairs are grey leather with matching carpets.
It’s mostly in good order, but there are one or two areas that may need minor improvement. The most noticeable is a stain on the back seat, though being leather this should be relatively easy to sort out. The seats are otherwise excellent, though, with no cracks or excessive areas of wear.
Other minor niggles include a jammed glove compartment handle and a missing adjustment switch for the electric mirrors, along with a small amount of LCD bleed on the instrument panel. There’s nothing drastic to sort, though, and overall it’s a very smart, comfortable and cosseting place to sit, driver or passenger.
In the boot, the original tool kit and warning triangle are present, while the CD-ROM operated sat nav and CD multichanger are also concealed behind a panel.
Finished in Biaritz Blue, the 750i is a really smart-looking car and the paintwork is mostly original, with no signs of rust or corrosion on top. It looks pretty solid underneath, too, and the MoT certificate should confirm that it’s in good order where it matters.
Obviously, being an original 23-year old car, the exterior finish isn’t perfect, but the only real area in need of attention is on the offside rear door where the car has had a previous paint repair and it has deteriorated with age. You have to look closely in order to see it, but it is there.
Otherwise, it’s in good order with very little in the way of lacquer damage, while both flanks of the car are straight and free of dents.
There’s a small scuff on the nearside front bumper and a crack in the black bumper finisher, which is a minor issue, while there are also small scratch marks around the door edges.
All four alloys are in good condition and the tyres are fairly recent with plenty of remaining tread.
The 5.4-litre V12 spins over and fires happily and sounds amazing, holding a steady idle and good oil pressure. It sounds healthy enough and the automatic transmission engages in forward and reverse gears.
We were able to conduct a short test drive on a private industrial estate and can confirm that there are no untoward clonks or rattles coming from the steering and suspension and that the brakes hold good pressure and appeal to work as they should. That also gave us the opportunity to sample the V12’s gorgeously smooth power delivery and exceptional refinement – and they’re what make the 750i special. Unfortunately, the bonnet latch was not working, so we could not take images of the engine. The seller has ordered a replacement though which should arrive and be fitted by the time the auction ends
The BMW E38 is a car that’s on the up-and-up as collectors catch on to its many charms – a luxurious barge, but with the dynamics and style of a smaller BMW saloon, it’s a car that holds masses of driver appeal.
And it’s the 750i – the V12 model – that’s the daddy of the bunch. It’s swift, but the 5.4-litre unit isn’t about power, it’s about smoothness. And this must be one of the nicest power plants ever created.
E38 V12s are getting very thin in the skin these days. This is a really smart and unrestored example that would benefit from a few very small areas of cosmetic improvement to make it spot-on.
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