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BMW 7-Series (E38)
BMW 7-Series E38
Production1994 - 2001
340,242 built [1] [2]
PredecessorBMW E32
SuccessorBMW E65/E66/E67/E68
Body style(s)4 door saloon
LayoutFR layout
Engine(s)2.8 L I6
3.0–4.4 L V8
5.4 L V12
2.5–2.9 L I6 Turbodiesel
3.9 L V8 Turbodiesel
Transmission(s)5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
Wheelbase2930 mm (115.4 in)−3070 mm (120.9 in)
Length4984 mm (196.2 in)−5124 mm (201.7 in)
Width1862 mm (73.3 in)
Height1425 mm (56.1 in)−1435 mm (56.5 in)
Curb weight1710 kg (3770 lb)−2185 kg (4817 lb)
ManualsService Manual

The BMW E38 automobile platform was the basis for the 1994 through 2001 BMW 7 Series automobiles. It replaced the BMW E32 in 1995 and itself was replaced by the BMW E65/E66 for the 2002 model year.

The E38 models were offered with either a five-speed automatic or manual transmission; 740i 740iL and 750i/iL had a 5-speed ZF automatic standard, while the 730d and 740d had a GM-sourced five-speed automatic.[1] The engine variants in Europe were 725tds, 728i, 730i, 730d, 735i, 740i (4.0 and 4.4 L), 740d and 750i (with a 5.4 L 322 bhp (240 kW) engine, as was used in the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph).

In the Americas, the models were sold as the 740i, 740iL and 750iL. The 740i and 740iL share the same 4.4 L V8 engine. The 740iL is essentially a long-wheelbase 740i (hence the "L" in the model name). The considerably rarer 5.4 L V12-powered 750iL was only available as a long-body. The 750iL was BMW's flagship sedan.

Features of the E38 7 Series included high-pressure headlight washers, auto-leveling xenon HID headlamps, power moonroof, a sound system with 14 speakers and four subwoofers as well as 6-disc CD changer, onboard satellite navigation 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) were also standard. The car featured an all-leather interior with burl walnut trim. The continuous-motion Active Comfort Seat technology was introduced in 1998 to improve comfort and reduce fatigue for the driver and front passenger.

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.

740iL and 750iL Protection Line light-armored vehicles were built from 2000-2001, and cost US$99,100 and US$124,400, respectively. These models included body armor, bullet-resistant glass and run-flat tires.

A rare European executive V12-powered stretch limousine was also produced, called the BMW L7.

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 production as people moved to buy the car before it was replaced. The E65's radical styling and iDrive was 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 and The Transporter. 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.

Models using the E38 platform

4.4L M62B44 V8 (US)

Models offered in Europe and elsewhere (non-USA)

Model Engine Power/Torque Years produced
725tds 2.5L M51D25 Diesel I6 105 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1995-2001
728i/728iL 2.8L M52B28 Petrol I6 142 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1996-2001
730i/730iL 3.0L M60B30 Petrol V8 160 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1994-1996
735i/735iL 3.5L M62B35 Petrol V8 173 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1994-1997
735i/735iL 3.5L M62TUB35 Petrol V8 174 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1998-2001
730d 2.9L M57D29 Diesel I6 142 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1998-2001
740d 3.9L M67D39 Diesel V8 180 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1998-2001

North American specific models

Model Engine Power/Torque Years produced
740i/740iL 4.0L M60B40 Petrol V8 210 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1995
740i/740iL 4.4L M62B44 Petrol V8 210 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1996-1998
740i/740iL 4.4L M62TUB44 Petrol V8 210 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1999-2001
750iL 5.4L M73B54 Petrol V12 240 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1995-1997
750iL 5.4L M73TUB54 Petrol V12 240 kW (Template:Convert/PS hp) / Template:Convert/Nm 1998-2001

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 Turbodiesel 3.0L or 4.0L M60 V8 or the 5.4L M73 V12 engine.
  • US Model Range includes the 740i, 740iL and 750iL.

1995 E38 used a block made of Nikasil, which is Aluminium impregnated with Nickel and Silicone. Apparently , sulfur reacts adversely with the Nickel , causing very slight blemishes in the top few millimeters of the cylinder bore. The cylinder bores are crosshatched, which is the name given to a pattern scratched into the surface of the cylinder wall. These scratches help seat and seal the piston rings, allowing good compression. More information on Nikasil engine BMW's can be found here



  • 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 front head airbags; automatic air-conditioning on 728i/735i; on-board computer on 728i; DSC III (Dynamic Stability Control) offered on 740i/740iL and 750i/750iL.
  • xenon headlamps were included on 750i/750iL.
  • 750iL in Tomorrow Never Dies.


  • 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
  • Parking sensors become available on 728i, 730i,735i and 740i
  • DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) now standard on all 7 series models
  • Satellite navigation system become standard on 750i and 750iL


The front side of 1999 E38 728i
The rear side of 1999 E38 728i
  • '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 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 310 to 324 lb·ft (439 N·m) Horsepower remains at 282 hp (210 kW).
  • 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.


  • 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.


2001 E38 740iL (Facelifted) (US)
  • Final year of E38 sales with production ending in July 2001.
  • Body-colored side skirts and bumper facias, which were previously flat black
  • Clear front and rear turn signal lights replace amber-colored lights.
  • 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-ROM 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.


Dinan-Modified BMW 750iL

The E38 has been successfully modified with a large number of after market performance tools, including free-flow exhaust and intake systems, suspension adjustment, and braking system performance upgrades.

Engine tuning companies such as Alpina, Dinan and Hartge have built both turbocharged and supercharged versions of the M73 V12 motor.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Kittler, Eberhard (1. Auflage 2001). Deutsche Autos seit 1990, Band 5. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02128-5. 
  2. Auto Katalog, 2003 edition, p. 312. Note: Figures include early E65 production.

External links