Test Drive: 1997 BMW 750il (E38)

On November 23, 2011, I test drove a 1997 BMW 750il at Weir Canyon Honda in Anaheim, California. The car was in Arctic Silver and had a grey leather interior. It had 89,000 miles and the asking price was $9,900. The 750il has a 5.4 liter V12 engine that produces 326 horsepower @ 5000 rpm, and 361 lb-ft of torque @ 3900 rpm. The engine’s code name is M73B54. It was used in all E38 750’s and in the E31 8 series (850i and 850Ci). The transmission used in the 750il is a 5 speed automatic. What caught my eye about this 750il is that it’s almost an exact replica of the BMW 750il in the 1997 James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies.” The only differences between the car I drove and the one in the movie was that it had a grey interior, not a black one, and of course, it didn’t have the weapons and gadgets. The 750il in the 007 film had a variety of features such as a missile launcher that pops out of the sunroof, a steel wire cutter that pops out of the BMW hood ornament, spikes that drop from the rear bumper to flatten tires, reinflating tires, and a remote control to operate the car from a distance. You can watch the chase scene from the movie at the bottom of this article if you’d like. Now back to the test drive. I made an appointment ahead of time to take a look at the BMW. It was in the back of the dealership lot, so he went back to get the car. When it was brought out I thought that there was just one fishy thing about the car. It said on the windshield $6900. I found that hard to believe at first because it was in excellent condition except for some minor scuffs and the mileage was so low. I asked the salesman if the price was lowered. He said it was likely a mistake. I started the car, and I loved the start up sound of the 12 cylinder engine. I looked around the interior, and I noticed the car’s phone that was built in and on the center console. Whether it worked or not I didn’t know. It was cool but useless because most people would use a cell phone to make calls or texts, and it’s illegal for drivers to do so while operating a motor vehicle in California. I put the car in drive, and the only issue that’s not a big deal was that the parking brake didn’t disable itself all the way. I had to pull the pedal back a tiny bit to turn off the parking brake light. I let my foot off the brake pedal and it made a loud grunting noise. I thought it was the parking brake, but It wasn’t. I just realized that the brakes on the car were very strong, and they certainly were while driving it. This car has power, no doubt. I wouldn’t be surprised if it could do 0-60 mph in 5 seconds flat. I have never driven anything with a V12 engine in my life. It is most definitely a car that you would drive and not realize that you’re speeding in it if you are. You could easily do 60 mph in a 40 or 45 mph zone. I have previously driven a 1998 BMW 740il which had a 4.4 liter V8 a few months prior, and that car was excellent with handling. The 750il’s handing was also excellent and had a good turning radius. The V12 was very quiet, and the car was very smooth. I wanted to take it on the nearby 91 freeway; however, there was too much traffic to really get a good feel of the car. I was very happy with the test drive. When I got back to the dealer, I looked at the 750il more thoroughly. The silver paint was in excellent shape, with some minor scuffs here and there. I admired the sporty looking wheels on the car, which were 18 inch BMW M Parallel chrome wheels. These are the best looking wheels on any E38 BMW or any 90’s BMW for that matter. The tires on the wheels still had plenty of tread. The interior was in excellent shape. The backseats were comfortable and roomy. They can recline, and there was more than enough legroom for me. The trunk was massive, and had plenty of cargo space. I popped open the hood to take a look at the engine, or the heart of the beast. It was a little dirty, but it was beautiful. The engine could be steam cleaned for a nicer appearance. After “kicking the tires”, the salesman spoke to someone else at the dealer about the price. Supposedly, the car’s price was lowered from $9,900 to $6,900. At that price it would be a steal. The asking price for the 1998 BMW 740il that I test drove was just under $6,000 with less than 162,000 miles. This is so far the best car I have ever driven in my life. I would buy this car on the spot if I had the money without hesitation. If I bought it however, the results would be that my insurance rates would skyrocket, the maintenance costs would drain my wallet, and it would consume a lot of fuel. Remember, this is a $100,000+ car that we’re talking about here. Even though I love this car, I just don’t think it’s the right one for me. Maybe in the future if I have the money to buy one, but it’s a lot of car for a young person to have. The salesman told me that people have looked at the car that knew absolutely nothing about it. They only look at it because of the price. Many of them have said that it’s just too much car for them. If you’re not a car enthusiast, this is definitely not for you. If you are seriously looking into buying a car with a V12 engine, but not a highly expensive one to buy, then this car is perfect for you! If you’re a James bond fanatic, then you’d love this car also. This 750il is almost identical to the one in the movie. Perhaps in about 10 or 20 years, these cars will be classics! Do your own research before you buy, and I hope this article has been a good source for you if you’re looking to buy this “Ultimate Driving Machine!”

Photos taken by Weir Canyon Honda/Acura


2 Responses to “Test Drive: 1997 BMW 750il (E38)”

  1. 7:37 am on December 10 2011, Sporty Cars said:

    Thanks god Chris Bangle and it’s “creativity” is gone…I love the way new BMW 5-series and all models across the range look. and don’t start me talking about the new F10 M5 :)

  2. 7:37 am on December 10 2011, Steve said:

    I’ve owned 3 versions of the E38 750il. I still have two of them. The first is my 1996 750il V-12 with 239,000miles and the second is the 2001 E38 750il Sport Package with 89,000miles on it. They are both amazing cars and I’ve never really had any maintenence issues with either one. My first 750 was a 1989 which we gave to my nephew when he turned 16. He loved the car but was hit by another driver and it was totaled. I don’t have to tell you that he walked away completely unscathed.

    These cars are an amazing buy right now and if you can get an 01 with the sport package, even better. As the author mentioned, once you drive it, you are hooked. They feel faster than they are but for a Titanic Size Car (Limo Size) it is fast. I am 6’3″ tall and the legroom in the rear is better than the front which is also huge. I’ve been asked to drive brides to their reception in these cars because the room in the rear is cavernous.

    They are an “Orgy of Leather and Wood” and I have nothing but praise for the cars. Turn on the seat massage and head out across the USA. The highway mileage is always about 20 and you simply won’t find a better riding car. I’m just getting ready to sell the older 750 and will be sad to part with it.

    Maintenence at a dealer will be expensive but there are a ton of Bimmer Shops or Merc Shops that work on the car at reasonable prices. Other than self inflicted damage, we’ve really never had issues with the v 12 BMW’s. They are just great cars and once you drive one, everything else will be compared to the 750il.

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