- Exterior: Biarritz Blue
- Interior: Oyster Leather with Dark Blue Carpets and Dash
- Engine: 4.4 liter V-8
- Trans: 5-speed automatic
- Mileage: 92,500 miles
2001 BMW 740i Sport
This is a well-maintained last year E38 740i Sport in a great color combination. It has been enthusiastically owned and is complete with books, tools, and service records for over $5000 in work in the last 6500 miles. It is largely stock but has a few subtle upgrades.
This car is currently in Marina del Rey, CA.
The E38 generation is a special car in my eyes. The 7 series has always had a certain level of prestige associated with it, and to me, the E38 is still one of the most attractive BMWs built. It has a dignified elegance that is missing from the more controversial somewhat bloated and overstyled E65 generation cars. Those cars have their own appeal certainly, but there’s something nice about the way the E38 looks and feels that I really enjoy. It’s still a car in which electronics do not fundamentally define the car’s identity or user interactions, they simply enhance the standard user interface of a regular old car.
The 2001 is the last year of production and is certainly the best of the generation. They incorporate many small aesthetic and functional improvements, such as the color-coded rockers and lower panels, clear indicator lenses, the 1999 facelift refinements, illuminated exterior door handles, and 4.4 liter VANOS engine, which is considerably more torquey than the earlier 4.0 liter engines, which also suffered from Nikasil block problems. The sport package was introduced for the 1999 model year and featured the gorgeous staggered 18-inch M parallel alloy wheels (still some of the most attractive BMW alloys ever, in my opinion), M-Technik suspension (stiffer shocks, stiffer springs which are lower in the front giving the car a great rake), shadowline trim, color-coded trim, three-spoke M steering wheel, sport seats, higher stall speed torque converter, and shorter 3.15 differential ratio. This fully featured sport package was available only on the short wheelbase car, and in the eyes of most enthusiasts, the 2001 “shorty sporty” is the pick of the bunch.
I still vividly remember the first time I saw an E38 with the sport package. It was August of 1998, and I was an 11 year old kid standing on a street corner in Kittery, Maine, when an ocean blue 740i Sport pulled up to a stop sign and then did a bit of a mild burnout as it pulled away, thanks no doubt to the shorter rear end ratio and DSC defeat switch. I’ve always liked blue cars and so when I decided to start looking for an E38, I knew I wanted a blue (or Imola Red) 2001 740i Sport. Most E38s are black or silver, and most blue E38s have the sand interior with the brown dashboard, or perhaps the grey interior, but a few have the oyster interior, which is set off by dark blue carpets, dashboard, upper door panels and parcel shelf, which is stunning in my opinion. There were two shades of blue offered, the darker Orient blue, or the more vibrant Biarritz blue that this car wears. I prefer this brighter shade, and looked forever to find a car that ticked all of these boxes.
I had always wanted an E38 SWB with sport package and began looking I eventually found this example in Arizona after looking for many months, with a relatively low 86,000 miles on the clock. I had an inspection performed, which revealed no major issues, so I bought the car sight unseen in August of 2010. I flew down from Northern California and drove it back. I must admit that I was disappointed with the car’s condition when I saw it in person the first time. The paint had a lot of swirl marks, the wheels were scuzzy, the wood wasn’t in very good shape, and there were some unfortunate used car freshening tricks performed inside. I have corrected most of the issues while I have owned the car, and it is considerably nicer than when I got it. See below for more details about the condition.
I drove the car back to San Francisco and it performed faultlessly, and set about making improvements and getting the car up to date on service. The car is primarily stock with a few modifications including:
- Refinished wheels with Nogaro silver centers, polished lips, all new hubcaps, and new tires. The car had Goodyear Eagle F1 tires on it when I bought it, and it needed rear ones, so I tracked some down with difficulty since they’re no longer in production. The fronts were okay so I was going to leave them on, but when the old wheels were dismounted, one of the front tires was damaged so I bought new Michelin PS2s for the front. The tires probably have 2000 miles on them at most. The refinishing work was done by Rite Way wheel in Walnut Creek, which is famous for their work on all varieties of special interest cars, from modern BBS alloys to Porsche Fuchs to their most unique specialty, wire wheels. ($1295.29 for all of this)
- Black front grilles. These don’t fit as well as I wish, but look way better than stock, imo.
- New rear lamps with smoked instead of clear top segments of the lenses
- New smoked Depo side repeater lights (the old ones were yellowed)
- Clearbra on headlamps and foglamps
- Tinted windows
Work performed in the last 6500 miles:
- Inspection II
- New alternator
- New glovebox latch
- New transmission filter and fluid change. Though the gearbox is “sealed for life”, I thought this was prudent. To change the fluid requires several flushes and the fluid is quite expensive, this job required several hundred dollars of fluid alone.
- Oil filter and change
- New spark plugs
- New fuel filter and pump
- New battery (OEM BMW, over $250 just for the battery)
- New heater control valve (aka auxiliary water pump)
- New gearbox to cooler power steering hose
- New rear brake lines
- Installed used vavona wood from another car E38 Sport that was in better shape
No expectation to get this money out, but I paid $12,500 for the car and spent over $5000 on maintenance and improvements since purchasing it.
The car makes a strong impression, but close inspection reveals some signs of wear and aging. I had the exterior of the car comprehensively polished and detailed and the paint was transformed. It now shows very well, although it does have wear on the front bumper and hood from normal road use. The car has no major dents, but does have a handful of scratches and chips. There is one place where the paint is cracked on the rear bumper. The windscreen was replaced before I got the car and is in great shape, as is the rest of the glass and the lights. The trim is all present and in good shape. Some of the photos show the front bumper trim as cracked, but this has been replaced since those photos were taken. The left headlight washer nozzle is missing and the windscreen washer system doesn’t work, which hasn’t really bothered me since the car has always been garaged and kept quite clean while I’ve owned it. The only other exterior thing that doesn’t work is the right power folding mirror. The wheels and tires are excellent and like new.
The interior condition varies. The carpets, dashboard, headliner, and back seats are excellent. The wood is in very good shape, though there is one hairline crack on the center console, some on the shift knob, and one on the trim in front of the passenger. The rest of the wood is excellent. The front seats are showing some wear, particularly the driver’s seat. They were both redyed but not to the best standards and are showing cracks. The passenger's seat is okay, but the driver's is tired. The instrument cluster is works properly and there are no lights on. There are no dropped pixels in the display, a common problem with BMWs of this era. The front cupholder, storage compartment, and ashtrays work properly as well, and the HVAC system works faultlessly, with cold AC and no gremlins (I had an M3 whose fan would turn on full blast whenever it wanted). The rear cupholder and ashtrays are inoperative. For some reason, the passenger B post trim is attached with screws, which is too bad. The rear electric sunshade works properly, as do the ones in the rear doors, other than the one in the quarter window on the left side, which no longer retracts on its own. There is a DIY fix for this on E38.org. All windows work properly, with no failed regulators, another common problem in these cars. The nav, trip computer, CD changer, and radio all work properly, but the tape player does not.
The engine compartment and trunk are both clean and show as they should. The tool kit is present and complete, as is the matching full-size M parallel spare. The car runs and shifts properly with no smoke, good power, handling, brakes etc.
This is a great opportunity to acquire a clean well-maintained 2001 SWB E38 740i Sport. It presents and works very nicely and is in a unique (and in my opinion stunning) color combination. It has been enthusiastically owned and is complete with tools, full manual set, and records from my ownership period.