ⓘ BMW 7 Series (E32)
The BMW E32 is the second generation of the BMW 7 Series luxury cars and was produced from 1986 to 1994. It replaced the E23 and was initially available with straight-six or V12 powerplants. In 1992, V8 engines became available. From its inception, the E32 was widely considered the most technologically advanced series of cars in its day and set the standard for performance luxury cars well into the 1990s.
The E32 introduced several features for the first time in a BMW: Electronic Damper Control,; Traction Control System; standard and long wheelbase length i and iL; and dual-zone climate control. The E32 750i was the first car adhering to "gentlemens agreement" amongst the German manufacturers limiting maximum speed to 250 km/h 155 mph.
Additionally, some of worlds first automotive features for passenger vehicles were introduced in E32: projector lens headlamps 1986; double glazing windows 1991, beating Mercedes-Benz by a few months; HID Xenon headlamps 1991;
E32 also introduced BMWs first V8 engine since BMW 501/502, last produced in 1962, and V12 engine, which was also Germanys first post-war V12 engine for passenger vehicle. The surprise news of BMWs V12 also caused Mercedes-Benz to delay the introduction of W140 by two years from 1989 to 1991.
In 1994, the E32 was replaced by the E38; an evolutionary design that built upon the E32s driver-centric design.
1. Development and production
The styling is credited to then-chief stylist Ercole Spada and Hans Kerschbaum working under the guidance of then-chief designer Claus Luthe. Design work began in late 1979. By 1983, 1:1 scale models were presented and frozen in October 1984 for production which was scheduled in June 1986.
Production of the E32 7 series started with the 735i in June 1986 and the 730i in December 1986, concluding in April 1994 with a total of 311.068 units built.
Some luxury options featured on the E32 include integrated telephone and fax machines, a wine cooler, electronically adjustable rear seats and radio controls for rear passengers exclusive to the 750iL.
In 1991, world first series production low beam Xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps Litronic, only low beam were introduced on the 750iL. Other safety features include a system that automatically increased spring pressure on the windscreen wipers to keep them firmly pressed on the glass at Motorway speeds.
The E32 was the first BMW to be available with traction control called Automatic Stability Control at the time, however ASC is not considered as stability control by modern definitions. Initial versions ASC reduced wheelspin by reducing engine power, while later versions ASC+T also applied the rear brakes.
The car was also available in a long-wheelbase version indicated by an L from German Lang, after the model number. These models have an extra 11.4 cm 4.5 in of leg room for the rear passengers, by stretching the rear doors and body at this point.
Over its lifespan, the E32 7 Series was produced with straight-six, V8 and V12 gasoline engines.
The launch models consisted of the 730i/iL and 735i/iL, which were powered by the M30 straight-6 engine. Also available at the E32 launch was the 750i/iL, which was the first BMW ever sold with a V12 engine. The rated power output of the 5.0 L 305 cu in M70 V12 is 220 kW 295 hp.
In 1991, BMW began production of its first V8 engine since 1962 with end of BMW 501/502 production. This M60 V8 was introduced in the E32, along with the E34 5 Series. The 4.0 litre version powered the new 740i/iL models, and the 3.0 litre version was sold in parallel with the M30 straight-six in the 730i/iL models. The top speed of the 740i was electronically limited to 240 km/h 149 mph. Both V8 engines were coupled to a new, 5-speed automatic transmission made by ZF. The Nikasil bore lining used in the M60 engine was prone to damage when used with high-sulfur fuels.
The E32 was the first BMW to use L-shaped tail-lights, which were designed with safety of following traffic in mind. Other styling features include BMWs traditional Hoffmeister kink in the rear window line and circular headlights.
Externally, the BMW kidney grille indicated which engine was present under the hood: all 6-cylinder models have a narrow grille, and a wider grille was standard for the V8 and V12 models. The narrow grille was available as an option on the 8- and 12-cylinder E32 models.
5.1. Special models 750iL Highline
The BMW 750iL Highline was the top-of-the-line model of the E32, with lots of added luxury for the rear passengers like full leather seats, dual radio controls, dual climate control with coolbox mounted in the center console, electrically heated and adjustable rear seats, walnut veneer folding tables, two crystal glasses neatly placed in the coolbox, legrests, and sun shade all around the rear/side windows. Complete with independent heating and ventilation, it also added a second battery in the trunk and a second alternator to provide power for all these luxuries. The Highline option package cost more than 20.000 DM, and was only available on the 750iL, bringing the total price to well over twice that of a base model 730i.
5.2. Special models Goldfisch prototype
The Goldfisch, also called the 767 or the "Secret Seven" internally, is a concept full size luxury car based on the E32 750i. Conceived by Dr. Karlhienz Lange in the late 1980s, it was meant to be the top-of-the line variant of the 7 Series also designed to compete with offerings from rival Mercedes-Benz. Dr. Lange also involved two other employees in the project, namely Adolf Fischer and Hanns-Peter Weisbarth both being senior employees. The concept car was completed in just six months. The main notable feature is the V16 engine designed by Adolf Fischer, which is essentially a modified M70 V12 enlarged to have four extra cylinders, capacity enlarged to 6.7-litres, etched iron pistons, nine-bearing crankshaft and having silicone-aluminium casting. The engine was fitted with Bosch DME 3.3 engine management system for better performance. Desired level of performance was achieved when the system treated the engine as two inline-8 engines bolted together. The resulting engine had a power output of 414 PS 304 kW; 408 hp and 625 N⋅m 461 lb⋅ft of torque. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission shared with the E31 8 Series. The car had the engine cooling system located in the boot along with fabricated fibre glass gills and air scoops at the rear to aid in cooling as there was no space to accommodate them at the front as the resulting engine was 305 mm 12 in longer than the V12 engine. Air was expelled through a custom made valence panel at the rear of the car which led to the use of small tail lights with no fog and reverse lights. Despite the usage of a large V16 engine, the car was only 60 kg 132 lb heavier than the 750i. The Goldfisch could accelerate to 100 km/h 62 mph in a claimed 6 seconds and could attain a top speed of 282 km/h 175 mph. The car remained a technology demonstrator only and was never put into production due to the V16 engine being incompliant to the environmental regulations.
6. Related cars
The E34 5 Series, introduced in 1988, has design cues similar to the E32. It also uses the same M30 straight-6 and M60 V8 engines, and several other parts.
The E31 8 Series, introduced in 1989, uses the same M60 V8 and M70 V12 engines as the E32.