- 1 BMW E38 7 Series – Pinnacle of 1990s Luxury Performance
BMW E38 7 Series – Pinnacle of 1990s Luxury Performance
Produced from 1994-2001, the BMW E38 generation 7 Series luxury sedans pushed new standards for comfort, dynamics, and technology. As BMW’s flagship, the E38 incorporated multiple innovations that spread across BMW’s lineup and influenced the automotive industry.
New Design Language for the 1990s BMW E38
The E38 introduced a sleek, more aerodynamic shape replacing the boxy styling of the previous E32 generation. Design cues like quadruple headlights and a more aggressive front end marked a fresh identity for BMW. The overall silhouette communicated athleticism despite the car’s size. BMW’s controversial digital dashboard debuted here first before other models
BMW E38 Chassis Dynamics Benchmark
All E38s came equipped with traction control, stability control, and adaptive damping suspension. Combined with optimized chassis rigidity and revised multilink rear suspension, the E38 delivered nimble handling that belied its proportions. The steering and suspension tuning provided exceptional feedback and control for such a large luxury sedan at speed or around curves.
Range of Smooth Powerplants
A smooth 4.0L V8 was standard for most markets, later enlarged to 4.4L in the 740i. Top-end 740iL models gained BMW’s triple-cam 5.4L V12 producing 322 hp for tremendous refined power. Even base 728i models with inline-6 engines delivered brisk acceleration thanks to weight saving measures. Transmissions included a 5-speed automatic with Steptronic manual shifting.
BMW E38 Pioneering Safety Technology
The E38 introduced new passenger safety systems to the market like side impact airbags and stability control years before rivals. It also marked wider adoption of core technologies as airbags and ABS brakes became standard across the range. This focus on safety aligned with BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” ethos emphasizing control.
New Heights of Luxury and Technology
Inside the E38 coddled occupants with power rear seats, dual-zone climate controls, and premium sound systems. The wide cabin provided a limousine-rivaling room. New options included a TV tuner and integrated phone system controlled by iDrive predecessor technology. Heated seats, sunshades, and air suspension offered first-class levels of pampering.
Critical Acclaim and Success
Critics praised the E38’s combination of luxury and engaging performance. It elevated BMW’s reputation in the high-end sedan market and won numerous awards including Wheels Magazine’s Car of the Year for 1995. Strong sales validated the car’s appeal, and the E38 became the best-selling 7 Series generation to date, selling over 500,000 units worldwide.
BMW Motorsport leveraged the chassis and powertrains of the E38 7 Series into successful racing sedans. The McLaren F1 GTR that dominated the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans was powered by the E38’s V12 engine. BMW won multiple touring car championships with the racetrack-honed E38 in the late 1990s.
The E38 7 Series stands as one of BMW’s greatest achievements by blending luxury, safety, Prestige and performance so skillfully. Its templates still influence BMW models today. For drivers, the E38 represents the ultimate balanced luxury sedan.