I bought my 740i with 64k original miles, perfect service record, one owner, original documentation including the window sticker, and an untouched tool kit and first aid bag. The only flaws visible on the car are minor paint chipping and several small scratches on the driver's door panel. The passenger and rear seats look like they have never been sat in. Based on the age and mileage I am guessing my E38 was a weekend car for the previous owner. I preface my review with these details because obviously they have had a major impact on my experience with the vehicle. I purchased my 740i in the Seattle area and the same week I drove it about 3k miles down to Scottsdale, AZ then Edmond, OK without a single problem. So far I have purchased an oil change, added a little bit of coolant, and replaced a brake light that went out twice ($5 fix.) The driving experience in an E38 is heavenly. Inside the cabin it is almost totally silent and you glide above the road undeterred by bumps and potholes. The suspension is oh-so-comfortable without being dangerously loose and the steering is precise. Acceleration in Drive is unimpressive in the lower gears - the torque is a little bit lacking. Shift the automatic transmission into "4" though, and a small "S" will illuminate in your dash. This sport mode shifts the automatic transmission like it's a manual and gives you much more power and speed in your lower gears. Be careful, though - driving aggressively in sport mode will drag you gas mileage down significantly. Of course you can always shift the transmission to manual mode with the push of a button. The comfort seat upgrade makes in an incredible difference for the driver and front passenger. 18 way seats adjust to the curvature of your back and offer variable shoulder support and plush power headrests in addition to the 4-way lumbar support and usual seat adjustments. The back seats are incredibly spacious and are so luxurious that most celebrities would not probably not object to being chauffeured about town in one of these. Of course the priorities of the Nineties stand out - the car has two cigarette lighters and three ashtrays. The technology offered on this car, for it's time, was impressive. Even today it has some features you won't find on new luxury cars. Overall the E38 is like George Clooney - it shows it's age, but it's far from outdated. In my personal opinion, the 740i (and the 2001 M-Sport model in particular) is the best-looking 7 series ever created and far outshines the monstrosity that Chris Bangle created. If you can find a lightly used E38 with service documentation, I would strongly encourage you to buy it. It's the most car for the money you'll find on today's market, and even though it's 20 years old you will still feel superior to vast majority of new cars on the road. It's a car that you can be proud of and will do well by you if you take care of it.
I've owned my 1995 BMW 740i for approximately five years or so. I am an enthusiast, and possess expert level knowledge. CONS: When considering purchase, these factors apply to most regarding suitability- Accurate service history is a must, unless one is well versed, and an expert as well. All repairs on a vehicle this age are expensive. Are you a hands on "DIY" individual? Not all shops are reputable, & are sometimes not capable of making repairs to this car, regardless of their general knowledge. Given the overall depressed used auto market, one is hard pressed to find a better value than one of these. This car is loaded with greatness.
PRO: A stunning, very safe, fun to drive vehicle-- even at 15 years old now- still a heck-of-a-lot better car than many new ones. Do your research on options, models, years to make an informed purchase. A favorite BMW I've owned- and I've driven them for 20+ years.
Key considerations would be display pixel longevity, inferior design window regulators. Worth mentioning, the Nikasil block compound is a non-issue with the 4.0 engine at this point, if the vehicle runs smooth. These blocks are longer lasting, (used in racing) if not affected by the old fuel.
Do not buy this car unless you have about $1000 to spend per month in maintenance. You can lease a brand new car and have it covered under a warranty. I bought this car about 18 months ago from a guy that took very good car of the car, the oil was changed and the car very rarely left the driveway. In the last 12 months I have spent over $5000 on repairs that include new brake pads and rotors, new ac blower and condenser, new front suspension, new belts and pulleys, new water pump, new thermostat, new alternator and the radio still does not work. This car is great to drive and handles great on the highway but sucks down gas in the city and will only take 93 octane fuel. Do not buy this car!
Comfortable Car, great on the highway
cheaper maintenance. Going broke trying to keep my car running.
Bought used, told it was fine. 137,000 miles, I knew I would have to do some maintenance. Well it needed water pump, radiator, belt, head gasket power steering hoses. Asked my local repair guy to do it all and I was out the door at $700. What can you say those are normal, even on a Honda with that many miles, and the Honda does not drive like this, nor does it have the room. This is my first 7 and it won't be my last, nothing like this
that everyone had a mechanic that would not rip them off
The drip down problem with the Japan- made engine and the other problems you can expect between 70-120K miles are well documented on the internet. This is no joke, and you need to buy a used one that has had the maintenance or plan on some serious repair bills. Once you pass the hurtle, the car is trouble free - but it helps if you mechanically inclined enough to solve small problems without running to the shop. All that said, it is a wonderfully reliable car for those who stay on top of their car's condition.
Nothing I've found with the same ride, look or features. Gas mileage is simply excellent if you are light on the pedal (26+ mpg), but if you drive it like a sports car then you will pay the price for accelerating that weight. Fantastic engineering and build quality.