BMW 735i (1987) – a manual gearbox fits perfectly with this limo

Second 7 series: E32

BMW 735i (E32) 1987

When the second generation BMW 7-series (E32) was introduced in 1986, the 735i was the top version. The 750i with its impressive twelve-cylinder came almost a year later. A majestic engine, but with the 3.5-liter six-cylinder you are very well served.

From 1992 this is a V8 (730i, 218 hp) with slightly less torque at a higher speed. In any case, we are allowed to drive a manual 735i and that is the happy medium, if only because a BMW six-cylinder in-line engine is one of the most desirable in the industry. In addition, the almost five meter long Zeven weighs just under 1,500 kg. Driving is indeed a pleasure and that is largely due to the power source. The sound, the flexibility and the complete absence of vibrations are astonishing. We merge onto the A28 near Harderwijk, the BMW picks up a fast pace and the tranquility of the interior makes this a perfect limousine for a trip to the Alps or further. A speed of 100 km/h feels like walking pace. Fortunately, there is cruise control, which prevents you from going too fast unnoticed.

BMW 735i (E32) 1987

The five-speed gearbox shifts exemplary and at 100 km/h the tachometer needle is just at 2,000. Perhaps you would be more inclined towards an automatic in a car of this caliber, but the somewhat sporty character of the 7 goes well with a manual gearbox. Moreover, it is easy to drive thanks to more than sufficient pulling power at low speeds. In short, a jewel of a drivetrain, as is soon clear.

BMW 735i (E32) 1987

With the inline 6 you already have such a wonderful 7-series, this generation is also supplied with V8 and V12.

Formidable chassis

The chassis and steering also deserve praise. The power steering is speed-dependent and therefore provides sufficient feeling and weight. The BMW feels less large than it is, although it is of course not as light-footed as a 3-series. We take a back road with more bends and less smooth asphalt. The chassis handles the worse road surface well, without losing grip. Anyone who stepped from a Mercedes S-class into an E32 at the time could not help but be impressed. Okay, the way the extremely comfortable suspension of the S smooths out a bumpy cobblestone road is unparalleled, but that comes at the expense of driving pleasure. In that area, BMW scores points and the brand is obliged to do so. What is also noticeable in a positive way on those bad roads: the absence of rattles, squeaks and creaks.

BMW 735i (E32) 1987

It is not difficult to guess that you will enjoy sitting on the electrically adjustable seat. The steering wheel is adjustable in depth and behind it we see the classic, green illuminated instruments. It provides all the information you need, nothing else. In addition to the original radio with cassette player, we see an on-board computer with many small buttons. This indicates, among other things, the outside temperature and consumption and by entering the distance to your destination, you know how far you have to go and approximately what time you will arrive. Something special at the time, just like the separate electronic temperature control. Air conditioning was apparently too much for the first owner, because it is missing.BMW 735i (E32) 1987

Ingenious gadgets for that time

Externally, the second Seven is a logical evolution of the first: the striking front with the double round headlights, large orange indicators on the corners and the traditional kidney grille in the middle. New are the Hella Ellipsoid headlights (with washers). This technology debuted on the E32. Not visible, but also present, is a collision sensor, which ensures that the hazard lights and interior lighting come on after an accident. Another safety system is ASC (Automatic Stability Control), a predecessor of ESP and actually traction control. It prevents the rear end from breaking away if you accelerate too enthusiastically in a corner. Naturally, ABS is also standard. At a time when there was no rain sensor yet, BMW came up with a different system. The interval mode is speed dependent, so the faster you drive, the shorter the intervals. In profile it is also a BMW through and through, with of course the characteristic bend in the third side window. We see that with many brands, so it is not unique.

BMW 735i (E32) 1987

A nice detail is the subtle rear spoiler, which forms one whole with the trunk lid and contributes to the relatively low Cd value of 0.32. As options we note a sliding roof and seat heating and there is a removable tow bar in the trunk. The counter is just over two tons, which is no name for a well-maintained and carefully driven car. Moreover, you hardly notice it.

This copy with an odometer reading of 221,245 was for sale in 2023 for €9,900.

BMW 735i (E32) 1987

No type indication on this copy. You can see that this is not a 750i from the round double exhaust, the V12 has angular exhaust pipes.

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