When I purchased this car in November 2004, I already owned two other 1994 model year cars, and I was certainly not intending to purchase yet another decade-old car. I was seduced by this particular car, though, because a friend mentioned to me before I ever looked seriously at the car, that it had had its engine replaced with a BMW factory new engine at 113,000 miles -- less than five thousand miles from its mileage when I found it on a used car lot!
After I started looking seriously at this car, which was largely because I was being seduced by its new $10,0000 engine, I did some quick research to make sure this was the best BMW 7-series choice for my needs and budget. It quickly became apparent that the big choice to be made when shopping for well-used 7-series models, is whether to purchase a V12-powered 750iL, versus the V8-powered 740iL. My research concluded that the V12 can be a much higher maintenance engine with two of everything in it that can break or wear out, since that engine is essentially two inline 6-cylinder engines tethered together. The 750iL had a four speed automatic in 1994, was rated at 12 and 18 mpg, and had 296 horsepower. The 740iL had a **five speed** automatic -- a real rarity back then, was rated at 17 and 22 mpg, and developed 282 horsepower. So while my decision was largely influenced by the fact that a virtually new V8 fell into my path, I was ultimately very happy purchasing the 740iL versus a 750iL. (Coincidentally, a 750iL of the same generation and same color happened to be sitting on another used car lot in the same small town.)
The car has a very pleasant amount of power. There is not enough low end torque to give you or your passengers whiplash. Instead, the more exciting sensations arrive at higher RPM, where the engine sounds and performance are delightful. The car is spectacular for passing and for high-speed cruising. When not engaging in spirited driving, the five-speed automatic's highest gear keeps the engine running at barely more than an idle at any speed legal on public roads in my part of the world. At 120 mph, for those interested in blatantly illegal speeds, it remains smooth as silk, fully composed, and has plenty of power left in reserve. I have not been any faster than 120 mph, so I cannot personally vouch for the 145 mph top speed claimed in its original specifications.
The suspension is comfortably plush, but still sufficiently tight to make the big car enjoyable to drive. Its biggest limitation in handling -- and in appearance -- is its OEM 15" wheels with 225/60/15 all season touring radials. Some quick research at www.TireRack.com revealed that the car could handle 245 tires in front, and as wide as 265 on the rear. My desire is to improve the appearance and handling of the car without looking as though I have recently had my ride "pimped." Sometime in the next couple of months, I will purchase a set of 18" wheels, which at 245 width on the tires, should look aggressive and attractive, but not fully pimped. This should update the appearance considerably.
Braking is impressive -- really impressive. Safety features also include very effective traction control, anti-lock brakes, and a switchable winter transmission mode (which I think starts from a stop in 2nd gear to make spin-outs much less likely).
Cabin space is fantastic! I sell real estate for a living, so my everyday car needs to be something that will comfortably carry at least two or three passengers. The rear legroom in the extended wheelbase "iL" model is fantastic for backseat passengers. Six-footers have plenty of room to stretch out. The climate control system offers two temperature controls for driver and front passenger. The fan is potent, and the car has a huge dash vent that, when open, directs a substantial amount of air up high and straight back between the front seats. There are also two adjustable vents for back seat passengers at the rear of the center console. Finally, there are floor vents under both front seats for backseat passengers.
Every part of the car feels substantial. Doors close with a serious "kur-thump" and seal tightly, making for a quiet ride. The trunk, while not great in terms of vertical clearance, is very deep and wide. And the height is presumably sacrificed by the presence of a full-sized spare alloy wheel and tire.
OEM audio system is nothing exciting (another project for this year). The car was designed with only an integrated antenna in the rear window glass, which makes FM radio reception less than stellar, but acceptable. My car had both an OEM cellular phone and a CD changer mounted in the trunk just below the rear sill behind the back seats. These further compromised vertical clearance, and I yanked both out of the car in short order. The CD changer did not work properly, and the cellular phone was an antique. I will replace the head unit with a MP3/WMA capable CD player, which will eliminate any need for a CD changer in the future.
The overall appearance of the car is striking. Except for serious European car aficionados, nobody realizes they're looking at a 12-year-old car when I pull up. Several have commented that they must have chosen the wrong profession, since they assume I must be dripping with money to be driving such a gorgeous Autobahn cruiser from Bavaria. And I bought this car for $8,300!