An Automobile for the Ages


From the April 1988 challenge of Automobile and Driver.

Why would anybody pay $70,000 for a se­dan? If you wish to entice the alternative intercourse, your cash could be higher spent on an unique sports activities automotive from northern Italy. If you wish to venture your wealth and im­portance to the populace at giant, a limou­sine is the best way to go. Even if you happen to can afford an unique, a limo, and another automotive you need, why spend the worth of a small home on a sedan? In any case, you should purchase any of a number of really great sedans for not more than 30 or 40 grand.

BMW offers the reply within the type of its new 750iL. Does extra prime finish than a Porsche 911 Turbo attraction to you? How about faster acceleration than a Mazda RX-7 Turbo? If velocity is not your prime prior­ity, possibly you may be impressed to study that the 750iL is without doubt one of the quietest automobiles we have ever examined. And its cabin affords lux­urious furnishings and limousine-like house in a package deal that’s ten inches shorter than a Mercedes-Benz 560SEL. Sure, BMW’s new flagship is dear, however that is one case the place you get what you pay for: a portfolio of strengths that no different sedan on the earth can match.

As its designation suggests, the 750iL is said to the second-generation 735i, in­troduced right here final 12 months. The 735, with an aerodynamically environment friendly new physique that appears concurrently elegant and muscu­lar, a spacious inside, solid-as-the-Alps building, and a very good mix of easy trip and agile dealing with, is a sedan that any carmaker could be proud to name its personal. The magicians of Munich, howev­er, had even greater aspirations for the 7-series. They needed a automotive that might declare the title of World’s Greatest Sedan.

The important ingredient of the potion that transforms 735i into 750iL is BMW’s new M70 V-12 engine. BMW’s engine wizards mixed a beneficiant displace­ment of 5.0 liters with the extravagance of twelve cylinders as a result of they needed an engine that not solely produced seemingly limitless energy however, equally vital, did so with out obvious effort. A twelve­-cylinder produces a smoother energy circulate than a six of the identical displacement be­trigger its cylinders fireplace twice as usually and with half as a lot depth. (A twelve just isn’t essentially higher balanced; a well-designed in-line six, such because the 735’s 3.5- liter, might be balanced simply as properly.) The in­herent smoothness of a twelve minimizes the noise and vibration transmitted by means of a automotive’s driveline; and in BMW’s view, this profit outshone the scale, weight, and value benefits of easier en­gine designs. The engineers additional enhanced the quietness of the 750’s drive­line by becoming rubber mounts to the M70’s two interwoven consumption manifolds, set up­ing an insulating cowl over its twelve clicking digital gas injectors, and match­ting hydraulic valve-lash adjusters to its single-overhead-cam valvetrain.

Twelve-cylinder engines not solely oper­ate easily but additionally generate energy ea­gerly. The reason being that they’ve so many valves. Even with solely two per cylin­der, the M70 has a complete of 24 valves—50 p.c greater than a traditional V-8, or as many as a four-valve-per-cylinder six. (The entire variety of valves is extra im­portant to an engine’s respiratory than their association.) As well as, twelves are unusually responsive: their flywheel mass is minimal, and their small, mild­weight reciprocating parts are fast to speed up.

To take advantage of these benefits, the BMW V-12 is regulated by two Bosch Motronic digital engine-control sys­tems—one for every financial institution of six cylinders. Becoming two methods to the M70 was largely a matter of expedience: Bosch doesn’t make a twelve-cylinder model of its Motronic system. The association does have one profit, nonetheless: As a result of every system operates independently of the oth­er, six cylinders will stay operational ought to one system fail.

One other uncommon digital characteristic of the M70 is its throttle linkage. Once you press the accelerator pedal, a transducer alerts the pedal place to a pc, which in flip controls electrical motors that open the throttle butterflies the suitable quantity. The system in­teracts with the engine-control computer systems to synchronize the opening of the 2 throttles and supply a fair development of energy. It additionally controls the idle velocity.

The designers of the M70 did each­factor they may to reduce the burden and bulk disadvantages of the V-12 structure. Most importantly, they specified aluminum for all the engine’s main compo­nents, leading to a completely dressed weight of solely 529 kilos—lighter than the all­-aluminum Mercedes 5.6-liter and Porsche 5.0-liter V-8s. And although the brand new engine is wider than the 735i’s 3.5-liter six, it isn’t as lengthy and fills the 750’s engine com­partment properly.

BMW says that its V-12 produces 300 hp at 5200 rpm and 332 lb ft of torque at 4100 rpm. Nevertheless, it quotes the identical figures for the European 750. Since European energy figures are expressed in PS, or metric hp, as an alternative of in English horsepower, the European fig­ure needs to be 4 hp greater than the Ameri­can quantity.

Whether or not the M70 engine produces merely 296 or a pleasant, spherical 300 hp, it’s possible you’ll relaxation assured that there are sufficient horses below the hood to maneuver the 4247-pound 750iL at full gallop. With its ZF four-speed automated transmission set within the sport mode, which causes shifting to happen on the engine’s 5800-rpm redline, our 750iL check automotive accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in simply 6.5 seconds and hit 100 mph lower than ten seconds later. Within the course of it lined the quarter-mile in 14.8 sec­onds at 96 mph. Even at speeds properly above 100 mph, the 750 by no means appears to run into the heavier air that finally thwarts most automobiles’ acceleration. This BMW does not cease accelerating till its velocity­ometer needle reaches the 164 mark, which interprets into a real 158 mph.

Much more spectacular than the V-12’s absolute energy is its reserve of energy at any rpm. Cruise down the freeway at 65 mph, with a relaxed 2000 rpm exhibiting on the tach, and a slight squeeze of the throt­tle is all that is wanted to supply a swell of acceleration. In the event you press laborious sufficient to induce a downshift, the automated professional­vides a swift, seamless transition from gear to gear.

Such silky, broad-range energy makes for an amazingly quiet trip. At a gradual 70 mph, the inside sound stage within the 750iL is a mere 67 dBA. The 750 can also be comment­ably quiet when working laborious. Pay attention carefully, although, and you may detect the sounds of finely honed equipment that we have at all times cherished in BMWs.

Such quiet requires an environment-­isolating suspension in addition to a easy engine. The 750’s underpinnings are similar to the 735’s: struts within the entrance, semi-trailing arms within the rear, and anti-roll bars at each ends. The shock and spring calibrations have been revised to deal with the 750’s heavier weight, and hydrau­lic load leveling has been added to the rear suspension, however the 735’s wonderful ride-and-handling compromise survives intact. The suspension clearly communi­cates the situation of the highway floor to the driving force, nevertheless it transmits solely informa­tion, filtering out the punishment. Even severely frost-heaved roads trigger solely a delicate jostling. And regardless of this isolation, the suspension retains the 750’s physique mo­tions below tight management. This automotive would not float if you happen to took a fallacious flip onto a curler coaster.

The 750 additionally stays firmly planted when the highway twists and turns. With 0.78 g of grip at its disposal and admirably impartial dealing with, the massive Bimmer is remarkably agile. At its restrict, the 750 stays simply on the understeer facet of impartial; nonetheless, a slight elevate of the accelerator or a twist of the steering wheel could make the tail step out in exact increments. And when you end up coming into a flip too quick, the 750’s thicker brake rotors and normal anti­lock management are prepared to clean off velocity immediately. Irrespective of the way you drive this automotive, you by no means really feel as if you happen to’re piloting a two-ton quasi-limousine.

The one weak hyperlink within the 750’s dynamic controls is its ZF Servotronic variable-­help energy steering, which it shares with the 735. The system is decidedly useless on middle, which prevents an inadvertent twitch of the wheel from turning right into a 150-mph mistake; name it autobahn sneeze safety. The unlucky facet impact of this prescription is that the 750 is unre­sponsive to the tiny, unconscious steer­ing corrections {that a} delicate driver makes always; in consequence, compensat­ing for wind gusts requires extra consideration than it ought to. As well as, the ZF system’s resistance will increase with velocity too obvi­ously, and the steering really feel tightens up un­naturally in high-speed bends. The con­ventional power-steering methods in different BMWs work significantly better.

1988 bmw 750il

Dick Kelley|Automobile and Driver

One other shortcoming of the 750 is its climate-control system. Though BMW payments it as an automated system, the fan velocity should be set manually. Extra impor­tant, the blower is loud even at its low settings. Our check automotive additionally suffered from an incessantly whirring servomotor. BMW says it has solved the latter drawback, however the complete system may use extra work.

Some may additionally discover fault with the 750’s resemblance to the 735—although most of us had been proud of its styling. The 750’s solely exterior distinctions are a wider model of the BMW dual-kidney grille, a hood recontoured to match, aluminum wheels of various design, sq. exhaust pipes, and a 4.5-inch extension spliced into the rear-seat space—which accounts for the automotive’s “L” suffix. The extra size offers the 750 sufficient legroom for 4 NBA All-Stars.

The 750 enjoys a number of different inside upgrades over the already lavish 735i. Leather-based upholstery covers not solely its seats however a lot of the sprint and the door panels. The entrance seats are heated, and the break up rear seat has particular person fore-and-aft changes, which additionally fluctuate the seatback angles. The surface rear positions have motorized headrests that routinely rise from their retracted positions when the corresponding seatbelts are fixed.

The result’s a comfortable and practical driv­ing setting. It is simple to get consolation­in a position within the extremely adjustable and well-­formed entrance seats. The instrument and management layouts are wonderful, and the stitches within the leather-based upholstery are aligned with army precision. The stan­dard-equipment mobile phone—if you happen to can afford this automotive, you most likely name your dealer continuously—is designed for hands-free operation.

Whether or not all of those attributes make the 750iL value its $67,000 base worth de­pends very a lot on one’s web value. Most individuals cannot think about spending a lot cash on a automotive. The 750, nonetheless, is much from being the most costly automotive in its class: the Mercedes 560SEL prices 70 grand, and the Bentley Eight prices virtually 100. And at present alternate charges, the massive BMW is definitely cheaper right here than it’s in Germany. In the event you can afford the 750iL and like what it might do, you would possibly even think about it a cut price.

We like what it might do. The 750iL could not flip heads like a Lambo or a limo, however its mixture of velocity, agility, consolation, and luxurious beats its sedan competitors by an enormous margin. If cash had been no prob­lem, that is the automotive that almost all of our employees members would choose over another sedan, at any worth.


A surprising variety of us who’ve pushed this automotive have been lowered to a state of helpless adoration akin to that of Emil Jannings within the film The Blue Angel. Jannings, it’s possible you’ll recall, performed the outdated professor who wound up doing rooster imitations on the cabaret simply so Marlene Dietrich would proceed converse­ing to him.

With its 750iL, BMW has hatched one thing to crow about, a cruiser so good that even vital Volk at Mercedes-Benz agree that it is a high quality automotive. In a rustic the place bragging rights to the very best massive sedan are so vital, that is going someplace. Which is precisely what the 750iL does—in a high quality, silent type made up of equal elements hypnotism and seduction. The automotive does all the pieces that cause can demand from a European lengthy runner.

At practically $70,000, it ought to do this, after all, however I—for one—simply did not ex­pect it to do it so properly. The ability’s there, the dealing with’s there, the state­ment’s there. No different giant sedan in current reminiscence has provided a lot in such a easily achieved package deal.

Cock-a-doodle-doo. —William Jeanes

After driving the BMW 750iL for barely half an hour, I discovered I had engaged my­self in debate. Seventy thousand {dollars} is a hell of some huge cash, I argued. However, I countered, the 750iL is a hell of lots of automotive. Not all of its virtues are instantly obvious. Solely quite a lot of roads will carry out the total vary of its abilities. And people virtues and abilities mix to kind a complete that’s a lot larger than the sum of its elements. However, I received­dered, is it actually value $70,000?

The talk undecided, I set out on a quest. I needed to see if I may discover a highway that the 750 could not deal with, a highway that may exhibit the bounds of its refinement, a highway that may in­troduce a single doubt into the pleasure I used to be deriving from it. I failed. Whether or not accelerating laborious out of 100-mph sweepers or threading by means of tight country-road turns, the 750 by no means fal­tered. It remained unbelievably quiet and composed, and its splendidly easy and elastic engine by no means hinted at straining.

Possibly $70,000 is not a lot cash in spite of everything. —Nicholas Bissoon-Dath

I maintain listening to the music sung by West Virginian Kathy Mattea—”You are the Energy”—who may very well be singing to this West German tremendous­sedan:

Like a blaze of gold
On the break of daybreak
You are the facility that heals
My soul
When the wind grows chilly
And I am midway gone
You are the facility that retains
Me entire…

Driving the 750iL is therapeutic, but it soothes your psyche with out requiring you to take something mendacity down. Put apart your annoyance at its worth. Sus­pend, for the second, any perception that the usA. can construct automobiles in addition to any­physique. The 750 has its small faults, however its abilities overwhelm its idiosyncrasies. Regardless of its capacities for passengers and efficiency, the 750 gracefully goes, handles, and stops with out effort, as if it had been half its dimension. You are feeling its fluidity in its each transfer.

The 750iL is a manifestation of the human drive to do the by-God finest we are able to. It’s an car for the ages. —Larry Griffin

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1988 BMW 750iL
Automobile Sort: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan


Base/As Examined: $67,540/$69,780
Choices: limited-slip differential, $390; gas-guzzler tax, $1850.

SOHC V-12, aluminum block and heads, port gas injection

Displacement: 304 in3, 4988 cm3

Energy: 300 hp @ 5200 rpm

Torque: 332 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm 

4-speed automated


Suspension, F/R: struts/trailing arms

Brakes, F/R: 11.7-in vented disc/11.8-in vented disc

Tires: Pirelli P600B


Wheelbase: 116.0 in

Size: 197.8 in

Width: 72.6 in
Peak: 55.1 in

Passenger Quantity, F/R: 54/51 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 13 ft3
Curb Weight: 4247 lb

30 mph: 2.5 sec
60 mph: 6.5 sec

1/4-Mile: 14.8 sec @ 96 mph

Prime Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.0 sec

Prime Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.4 sec

Prime Velocity: 158 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 182 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.78 g

Noticed: 14 mpg

Metropolis/Freeway: 12/17 mpg 


Headshot of Csaba Csere

Contributing Editor

Csaba Csere joined Automobile and Driver in 1980 and by no means actually left. After serving as Technical Editor and Director, he was Editor-in-Chief from 1993 till his retirement from lively responsibility in 2008. He continues to dabble in automotive journalism and LeMons racing, in addition to ministering to his 1965 Jaguar E-type, 2017 Porsche 911, and trio of bikes—when not snowboarding or mountain climbing close to his residence in Colorado. 


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