E32 Seven Series


The E32 was the successor to the aging E23 series and was thus the second version of the seven series. It used the traditional semi trailing arm suspension and the same basic engine and transmission design as the older model. The main differences from the older model were a stiffer chassis, extra gadgets and more modern styling. The E32 looks quite like the E34 five series, both are great cars which make good value used buys today.


The E32 was born in late 1987 with a 730i and 735i using the well proven M30 six cylinder engine. Buyers with deeper wallets could opt for BMW's first ever V12 with a 5.0 litre capacity.

In 1993 BMW introduced the new all alloy V8 M60 to the E32 in 4.0 litre and 3.0 litre form. Long wheel base models with more rear cabin space were designated L, i.e. 735iL.

Almost all E32s were automatics but manual 735i's do show up in adverts now and again. In europe it was possible to get a basic E32 without leather seats and many other features which were standard on US models.

BMW E32 750iL

US model 750iL with BBS cross spoke alloys.

BMW E32 735i

David Caruana's 735i from Malta.

BMW E32 750i

Black always suits a BMW! Note the 750i alloys.

BMW E32 long wheelbase

An iL, long wheel base means longer rear doors.


The early six cylinder 735i was probably the single BMWs most affected by US anti-pollution legislation. The euro 735i has 218bhp vs 182 for the US model, this was mainly due to a 9.0:1 compression ratio on the US engine vs 10.5:1 on the euro equivalent. When you also add the extra weight of the federalised model the power to weight difference is huge.

The newer all alloy V8s were a big performance step forward for US customers but early engines suffered from sulphur corrosion problems. BMW replaced a lot of engines under warranty due to cylinder wall damage, later engines had cylinder liners of a more robust material. BMW issued a chip to make the engines run hotter and this helped but also reduced performance. Early sulphur symptoms are a rough idle and lack of power, a compression test gives the final answer.

The V12 is a great engine but is very complex. It can run in "limp home" mode with only six of its twelve cylinders if there is a fault. Proper maintenance is vital on all of these engines, especially frequent oil changes.

The M30 engine is the most mechanically simple engine, probably the most durable and its parts are cheap.

Model Body styles Engine Weight
Power / Weight
(bhp / 1000kg)
Final drive ratio
(manual / auto)
730i six Saloon M30 1600 123 3.64 Disc/Disc ABS
730i V8 Saloon M60 1680? 129? ? Disc/Disc ABS
730iL V8 Saloon M60 1740? 125? ? Disc/Disc ABS
735i Saloon M30 1630 135 3.45 (4.27 US) Disc/Disc ABS
735iL Saloon M30 1710? 127? 3.45 Disc/Disc ABS
740i Saloon M60 1690? 169? ? Disc/Disc ABS
740iL Saloon M60 1750? 163? ? Disc/Disc ABS
750i Saloon M70 1782 168 3.15 Disc/Disc ABS
750iL Saloon M70 1900 158 3.15 Disc/Disc ABS


See the engine details page for power figures. US power figures for this car were quite a bit lower than euro figures and the cars were a little heavier. The 730i was never available in the US in either six or eight cylinder form.

Known Problems

For the early 730i and the 735i see M30 engine problems.

For the late 730i and 740i see M60 engine problems.

For the 750i see M70 engine problems.

Many of the E32s had TRX alloy wheels. These use a special size of tyre (220/55VR390) which is difficult to get and expensive. They can be replaced by suitable 15" or 16" wheels and modern tyres.

Many E32s had self levelling rear suspension but this is often deleted if it fails due to high repair costs. I'd prefer a car without it.

Electric seats can fail, especially headrests.

Rear suspension work on iL models is very expensive.

Early ZF 4HP 22 automatic transmissions can fail if revved strongly whilst in neutral or park.

The check control module on the rear lights has a reputation for failing.

Flashing ABS warning light often means that wheel sensors are rusting badly.

Heating can stick fully on or off due to faulty heater control valve, not that expensive to fix.

Check all the electrical goodies work, bits for these ain't cheap but they are generally reliable.

Pre-90 cars are reputed to have electrical problems but many will have been sorted under warranty by now.

A 735i will be a cheaper to maintain than other 7's and would be my choice.

As with other BMWs of this period the rear subframe rubber bushings perish. Watch for a shuggle from the rear end when changing lanes.

Watch for a shimmy when breaking hard from speed. Can be due to warped brake discs, worn tie rods or worn suspension bushings. Not expensive to solve.