When “Large and Luxurious” Just Isn’t Large Enough or Luxurious Enough

The E38 was BMW’s range topping luxury saloon from its introduction in 1995, when it took over from the E32. It continued until 2001 when, slap bang in the middle of the Bangle era, it was replaced by the E65.

As the top of BMW’s range, it was always a large, luxury saloon and was only available as a four door saloon. No factory 7 series Touring has ever existed.

Its specification, in contrast to other models in the BMW range which were known for their miserly standard specification – in UK market models at any rate – was always generous. Towards the end of production, the standard spec included:-

Electric memory seats;

Wood trim, leather;




Cruise Control;

Park Distance Control;

IIluminated interior and exterior door handles;

Soft close boot;

Remote central locking; and, much more.

It’s always amusing to see basic “taxi spec” models advertised as, “fully loaded” or “high specification”, while the truth is that while they are highly specified in comparison with normal models, they are just not highly specified for an E38.

Take front seats as an example.

The standard electric leather seats with three driver’s memory positions could be upgraded to :-

Sports seats – with the extendable thigh bolster;

Comfort seats with the adjustable backrest and four way lumbar support;

Comfort Sports – so called “Contour”  – seats with both adjustable thigh bolster and comfort options;

These possibilities ignore Individual trim and leather options and  heated and massage options.

Even the rear seats were available heated and electrically adjustable.

We built the “council house” 728i into a pretty highly specced thing with Individual two tone contour seats, electric rears, electric rear blind, DSP, SatNav and loads of other good bits like the so called “porn lights”, inlaid trims, folding mirrors, reversing camera and WiFi router. It’s a fabulous daily drive, and we’ve got some other bits collected for it too – rear air-conditioning, hydraulic boot and leather grab handles are all sitting waiting to be fitted.  But even with all that stuff, it’s still a bit ……well……basic.

So, to keep it company, we recently picked up a pretty late 2001 X 740il.

It’s Cosmos Black and the “740” bit indicates a 4.4l V8; the “i” bit designates fuel injection and the “l” translates into four inches longer. All of that four inches is in the rear passenger compartment.

But this one isn’t just longer. It has:-

Hydraulic soft close boot

picnic tables and vanity mirrors with rear blinds, electric sun blind, footstools, chromeline trim, double glazing, rear air-conditioning, Sat nav, electrically adjustable steering column, folding dipping mirrors, PDC, Self Levelling Suspension,  DSP, comfort seats, comfort climate heated front windscreen with top tint and  a rain sensor, electric rear seats, multifunction rear armrest,  sunroof, and loads more that I can’t think of

When it arrived, I started to sort out its little foibles when I had some spare time and a week on and the non working sunroof had been fixed; a window regulator had been replaced (and another has since been done); a (double glazed) quarter glass fitted; the hydraulic soft close boot fixed; the pre facelift bonnet jettisoned; the slam panel that had been butchered to fit the pre facelift bonnet swapped for the correct one; the bonnet cables and catches replaced/adjusted/lubricated; a broken air intake replaced; one PDC sensor housing replaced; front bumper replaced: headlight washers repaired and swapped into the other bumper; cluster whipped out and pixels repaired; rear bumper replaced ; a set of M Parallels sent for polishing , and, all the external trim removed and the car was prepared for paint.

In the process of being painted.

And now back from paint with its wheels fitted, we need to get the interior completed to turn it into a pretty special, very late, very highly specified E38 which I’m really looking forward to driving.

Now all we need to do is find a 750ixl – and unusually for BMW, the “x” here has nothing to do with all wheel drive, oh, and a rear mounted fridge, bullet proof glass, fax machine and a drinks cabinet.

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