The first-gen BMW 7-Series is still the benchmark

40 years old and going strong
by Vijay Pattni | Jul 27, 2017

At the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, BMW will unveil a special, ‘40 Jahre’ edition of its all-new 7-Series. It is intended to celebrate 40 years since the first, E23 BMW 7-Series arrived, and it puts us in a bit of a quandary.

Because while the new BMW 7-Series is a fine car—high-tech underpinnings, good engines (including the lightly nutty 6.6-liter blown V12 in the M760), and much connectivity—it’s frankly not as cool as the original one.

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Which BMW has very helpfully reminded us about. Just look at its sharp-nosed, angular magnificence. It marked something new for BMW—a new design language, and a new beginning, following BMW’s E3 ‘New Six’ line of luxury sedans (themselves a response to Mercedes-Benz).

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All cars came with a straight-six in many variants—ranging from 2.5 to 3.5-liters in size—all packaged up into that new silhouette. A stronger sloping design, shorter overhangs, that shark-nosed face. All excellent.

It was of course, packed to the rafters with tech of the day, as befits a luxury sedan. Air conditioning! Gauges! An on-board computer! In-car telephones! Leather! Power windows! And yes, the exclamation marks aren’t those of derision, but of delight—remember, this was 1977.

BMW also used the 7-Series to kick off a few firsts too, much like Mercedes does with the S-Class. So 1977's 7 got a check-control system, 1987’s 7 was the first post-war German car to feature a V12, integrated nav arrived in 1994, iDrive in 2001, and THE INTERNET in 2008.

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And it all kicked off with that little ol’ E23. So while the new 7 is fine, the old one is just better.

Tell us we’re wrong (even though we’re not).

NOTE: This article first appeared on Minor edits have been made. 

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