E38 Seven Series


The E38 was introduced to the UK in August 1994 replacing the excellent E32 seven series. The older seven was a hard act to follow but the E38 was up to the job. It's looks were even more aggressive than the old model and had been modernised with taste. The car looked lower and wider.

The update had seen the E38 put on roughly an extra 100kg and with the same engines in the early years the car was a touch slower. In 1996 the V8s were bored out to 3.5 and 4.4 litres to give extra torque but the same peak power, admittedly lower down in the rev range.


The 750iL is the top of the range and makes a fine flagship. BMW spotters can tell this one by the small silver V12 badge at the base of the C pillar. It's actually a 5.4 and delivers 10% more power and torque than the older 5.0.

The V8s make up the bulk of E38 sales. Early models were 3.0 (europe only) and 4.0 litre. In 1996 these became 3.5 (again europe only) and 4.4. Although the 4.4 delivers the same power as the 4.0 it has slightly more torque and greater flexibility throughout the rev range. The newer V8s feature more advanced electronics as well. US owners can buy the 740i with a sport pack. In europe the cars tend to have a choice of two suspension settings as factory options.

The entry level 728i is a wonderful car. A popular UK car magazine had one on long term test and loved it. They really enjoyed the superb suspension and were astounded by the low fuel consumption for such a large car.

Almost all sevens are automatic and use the five speed adaptive transmission which learns your driving style and changes gear accordingly.

The Long wheel base iL models have an extra 140mm of wheel base, most of this translates to more rear leg room. I'm fairly sure the the short wheel base 750i wasn't available outside europe.

BMW E38 740i

Late model US specification 740i.

BMW E38 735iL

735iL, long wheel base model.

BMW E38 AC Schnitzer

AC Schnitzer's idea of the perfect E38.

BMW E38 740i sport

US 740i Sport.


The 2.8 six cylinder M52 is the same as that used in the E36 328i and E39 528i. It's small for a car of this size but gives surprisingly good performance. It was replaced in 2000 by the 3.0 M54, a more highly tuned engine with much better high end power.

In 1999 the 3.0 M57 and 4.0 V8 M67 diesel engines were introduced (but not in the UK). The 4.0 produces a huge 413 lb/ft of torque at only 1750rpm yet still returns almost 30 imperial mpg! These diesels have two electrically adjustable turbos, a first for BMW. Fuel is delivered at a pressure of 1350 bar (almost 20,000 PSI) using a common rail system.

The 730d uses the same engine as the 530d, it was shown to press and public in europe in early '99. It may have been replaced by the 740d shortly afterwards. These models aren't available in the USA or UK.You can buy the engine though, only problem is that it's inside the a Range Rover.

The most popular E38s were the V8s. These were initially 3.0 or 4.0 M60s but were upgrade to 3.5 and 4.4 (still called 740i confusingly) M62s in 1996 and the more advance but same capacity M62TU in 1998. We musn't forget the big V12 750i with it's 5.4 litre M73, amazingly cheap these days for what was an eye wateringly expesive car new.

Model Body styles Engine Weight
Power / Weight
(bhp / 1000kg)
Final drive ratio
(manual / auto)
728i Saloon M52 1805 109 3.23 Disc/Disc ABS
730i/iL early, V8 Saloon M60 1819 120 ? Disc/Disc ABS
730i late, six Saloon M54 1810 128 ? Disc/Disc ABS
730d Saloon M57 1905 97 ? Disc/Disc ABS
735i Saloon M62 1885 126 3.15 Disc/Disc ABS
740i/iL early Saloon M60 1790 160 ? Disc/Disc ABS
740i/iL late, 4.4 Saloon M62 1925 / 1965 149 2.71 Disc/Disc ABS
740d Saloon M67 2035 120 2.65 Disc/Disc ABS
750i/iL, 5.4 Saloon M70 2055 / 2110 157 2.81 Disc/Disc ABS


See the engine details page for power figures. I've not been able to confirm the weights for i and iL models as yet.I believe the 1790kg weight for the 740i/M60 is for an early basic version with few extras, it seems low.

Known Problems

For the 728i see M52 engine problems.

For the V8 see M60 / M62 engine problems.

For the 750i see M73 engine problems.

For the diesels see M57 / M67 engine problems.

I've heard that HID light control modules are starting to fail early, may be heat related.