Pres­tige bar­gain

1995-2002 BMW 7 SE­RIES

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

WHEN it comes to lux­ury cars, Mercedes-Benz rules the roost. Its S-Class has been the bench­mark for all com­ers, in­clud­ing BMW’s 7 Se­ries, for years.

Benz has moved down the classes over time, but it is still de­fined by the cars at the pin­na­cle of its range.

BMW, on the other hand, be­gan with small and mid-sized pres­tige cars. It is still best known for its 3 and 5 Se­ries, but the 7 Se­ries fights for a place on the lux­ury podium.

BMW has built some of the best-looking cars to grace our roads in the past 30 years.

The 5 Se­ries, in par­tic­u­lar, has per­fect pro­por­tions and seam­less lines. The E38 7 Se­ries was a grown-up ver­sion of the won­der­ful mid-sized model.

Un­der­neath, the big BMW had a strut sus­pen­sion at the front and mul­ti­link in­de­pen­dent at the rear.

It han­dled well, but it wasn’t as sporty as the rest of the range. That’s not sur­pris­ing given its role was to pro­vide smooth-rid­ing com­fort, which it did.

En­gines were 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5-litre V8s and a 5.4-litre V12. The V8s ranged in out­put from the 160kW and 290Nm of the 3.0-litre V8 to 210kW and 400Nm in the 4.5-litre V8. The V12 pro­duced 240kW at 5000 revs and 490Nm at 3900 revs. All were linked to five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sions. As ex­pected of a car cost­ing $200,000, a new 7 Se­ries came with ev­ery­thing that opened and shut. Al­loy wheels, au­to­matic air­con­di­tion­ing, cruise con­trol, 10-speaker CD sound, leather and wood trim were in­cluded.

Sun­roofs, power seats with mem­ory set­tings, nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems and a power rear blind were some of the things added in mod­els up the peck­ing or­der.

Af­ter the GFC shock, buy­ers turned away from big cars such as the 7 Se­ries and as a re­sult they are go­ing rel­a­tively cheaply.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

As in all BMWs, the ra­di­a­tors are a prob­lem. The plas­tics used in the tanks de­te­ri­o­rate and even­tu­ally fall apart.

Electrics can be a prob­lem, and the 7 Se­ries is packed with them. Check all the car’s sys­tems, in­clud­ing win­dows, which com­monly cause trou­ble.

LCD in­stru­ment read-outs fade and even­tu­ally fail al­to­gether.

Find a ser­vice spe­cial­ist to look af­ter your car, oth­er­wise you will be pay­ing plenty to a fac­tory dealer. Spe­cial­ists usu­ally can find less ex­pen­sive parts.

En­gines, gear­boxes, driv­e­lines and sus­pen­sion are all ro­bust and give lit­tle trou­ble.

The 7 Se­ries was packed with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy, such as anti-skid brakes, trac­tion con­trol and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol. It also had front, side and cur­tain airbags.

Add its mass and the 7 Se­ries had al­most ev­ery­thing go­ing for it.

At al­most two tonnes and with its power pro­vided by a V8 or a V12, a 7 Se­ries was no fuel miser. Ex­pect 15 to 16 litres/100km from a V8 and even higher from a V12.

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