Was The E38 The Peak 7 Series?

BMW E38

The E38 7 Series is widely regarded as one of the best BMW models of all time, and many enthusiasts consider it to be the high point for the automaker’s luxury flagship model. Although long since surpassed in terms of performance and technology, a clean E38 7 Series has retained its value far better than generations before and after, and it’s easy to see why. In 2001, BMW was doing nearly everything right, and models like the E46 M3 and E39 M5, along with others like the Z8, Z3 M, and E53 X5, stand as indisputable evidence. The E38 is part of that list, because it combines the quintessential BMW qualities of an exceptional driving experience with a perfectly subtle and understated form.

We’re now three generations of Seven removed from the E38, but with one look at the collector market, and it’s clear which period stands out. Today, enthusiasts and collectors alike are willing to pay good money for a sorted E38, more specifically a cream-of-the-crop 2001 740i M Sport example. The late-model 740i has all of the right equipment, and perfectly brings to life BMW’s concept of their luxury cars being akin to an athlete in a business suit.

While some are willing to put good money toward an E38 that’s already sorted, others can also make the case for spending serious money to make an already clean example ready to last another twenty or more years. YouTuber Tyler Hoover of Hoovies Garage is a perfect example of the latter, as after messing with multiple E65 7 Series—perhaps just to prove a point—he’s finally ponied up for a clean E38. It’s not just any E38, though, as Hoover sought out a well-kept late-model 740i with M Sport package.

Hoover’s new-to-him 7 Series is a striking example. Finished in signature Titanium Silver, M Parallel wheels round things out, while an odometer reading of approximately 81,000 miles means it’s been used sparingly over its 19 years of existence. Of course, after a full mechanical inspection by a qualified professional, an estimate with a total close to the purchase price listed a number of what are now expected E38 and M62 issues as being present.

We’ll spare you the details and let you watch the videos for yourself, as they’re rather entertaining. Hoover ends up commissioning a full mechanical reconditioning of the 2001 740i, which included dropping the transmission, and refreshing the timing mechanism of the M62 V8 (hopefully for good), among plenty of other things.

With nearly everything addressed and buttoned-up, Hoover totaled up the costs, which more than doubled his initial investment (the purchase price) in the car. Of course, what he spent only equates to a relatively small down payment on a new 7 Series, which brings us back to the purpose of this piece. Was the E38 peak 7 Series? Massive grilles aside—just look at the thumbnail above—if the E38 isn’t the best 7 Series, then why are collectors and enthusiasts like Hoover willing to spend serious money on them? Why do they demand valuations higher than any other generation of 7 Series, outside of a few select examples like turbocharged Alpina models?

The E38 7 Series is from a different era of BMW, when the brand initially attracted drivers en masse with their simple formula of performance and functionality in a sharp, fun to drive package. The world, both in automotive terms and in general, has moved on since the days of the E38, but here we are, still talking about it. Given the opportunity, would you spend good money on a clean example of a model from BMW’s golden age?—Alex Tock

[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG, Hoovies Garage on YouTube.]

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