The BMW E38 was an automotive platform produced between 1994 and 2001 by BMW in Dingolfing, Germany and is the basis for its 7 Series line of cars. Car buyers and critics saw it as a major upgrade over the earlier E32. Its popularity held until BMW discontinued the E38 in 2001 in favour of newer platforms.
The E38 was used as a basis for several models. These cars were four-door sedans using a front engine/rear-wheel drive layout. In North America, they were known as the 740i, 740iL and 750iL. European variants were named 725tds, 728i, 728iL, 735i, 735iL and two diesel versions--the 730d and 740d. As was true before and after the E38, the 7 Series represented BMW's top-line luxury offering and was priced accordingly. Retail prices for some 2001 E38 models topped £59,800.
BMW built the first E38 platforms in 1994 for its 1995 model year cars. The original E38s were fitted with one of four engines: a 2.5 litre Turbodiesel inline-6 cylinder, a 3.0 litre V8, a 4.0 litre V8, or a 5.4 litre V12. In the first few years of production, BMW added several notable features to the E38-based cars. These included anti-lock brakes, a Steptronic transmission with automatic and manual modes and built-in GPS.
By 1999 the E38 was no longer considered new, and BMW designers refreshed the cars appearance while keeping most of its mechanics intact. New fenders and headlamps gave the E38 a more modern look. BMW offered the 740i with a Sport Package that included 18-inch alloy wheels, redwood interior trim, black exterior trim and a sport suspension.
Production of the E38 stopped in the summer of 2001. With the announcement that the E38 would be phased out in favour of a new platform, car buyers were quick to snatch up the last of the E38 models. In the years that followed, prices for late model E38s actually rose due to their limited availability.
All E38 cars shared many of BMW's premium options. Luxury features such as xenon headlights, a power moon roof, water-sensing windshield wipers and a premium CD sound system helped cement the car's status as BMW's top offering. Leather interior seating was standard, as was a dual-zone climate control system. Other interior refinements included a digital memory system for automatic seating positions. In 1998, BMW introduced its new Active Comfort Seat package in which automatic adjustments were meant to keep riders comfortable on longer drives. Some of the features first introduced on the E38 trickled down to other BMW models, but many were exclusive to the prestigious 7 Series.
During its production, BMW offered the E38 as a number of special models.
Armoured versions were available for upwards of £65,000 and included bullet proof glass and reinforced body panels. Two limousine models with stretched wheelbases, known as the BMW L7, were built based on the 740iL and the 750iL.
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