A Whole Lot Of Car: 96k-mile 1994 BMW 740i

This is a lot of car for not a lot of money.

The E32 was BMW's flagship sedan from 1987-1994. These are beautifully crafted cars, inside and out.

Styling is courtesy of Ercole Spada working closely under Claus Luthe. Together, they created a modern classic that finally brought BMW up to the level of Mercedes, at least in the eyes of critics and car enthusiasts alike. The car was meant to take on the legendary but aging W126, and if it didn't match that car's reliability, it certainly did match or even surpass in performance, handling, style and comfort.

The price of taking of Mercedes was that the 7-series would never again be like the smaller, lighter, and less complex E23 that came before this model. But for a moment, at least with the E32, it was worth it in an overall better car.

They were initially powered by either a six cylinder engine or the notorious V12. Then, in 1993 the 740i/iL 8-cylinder appeared and the 735i/iL 6-cylinder was dropped. The V8 provided similar performance to the V12 without the maintenance headaches (although the Nikasil engines proved problematic after all). E32 production ceased in 1994.

Even sweeter was the short-wheelbase 740i, forsaking the longer wheelbase variant's complex air suspension and lengthy body.

The 4.0-litre V8 pumped out 282 horsepower, healthy for the time and still respectable today, although we have six cylinders producing that much now.

Used BMW cars in the USA run quite the gamut in condition. "Everybody" wants a BMW, with the classy Claus Luthe-era styling, rear-wheel drive and powerful engines. Since they depreciate fairly normally, when prices drop they end up in a variety of different hands, some of whom don't have the means or dedication to maintain these properly. In short, finding clean, relatively low mileage examples like this is increasingly rare, especially for the E32, which have all but disappeared from US roads.

The seller says this car has under 96k miles and has had recent maintenance done. A Quick carfax check will flesh out the rest of the story and either make this the winner it looks like, or something to avoid.

But for only $3,800, this sure seems like a really slick, very comfortable and capable cruiser. Me want, very very badly.

Find it here on craigslist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


  1. Before hauling down to Philly to see this E32, I'd want to see a lot more detailed photos, and I'd want to know exactly what that CarFax report says. I'd also want to know more about it's ownership and service history. As noted, long-term costs on a poorly maintained example can be substantial.

    1. Yeah, and I find the whole Nikasil thing so ominous...how do you know which ones are time bombs, are which aren't?

    2. Honestly, I don't know enough about the Nikasil issues to even guess. If there was going to be a problem, would it have shown up by now (96K miles and 18 years)?