We started what is now known as TestDrive in November 2015 by filming videos of our 2001 BMW 740iL, covering what we call a Full Tour & Review, and what has now evolved into TestDrive Spotlight, on cars like this. We found an underwhelming number of videos showing off older luxury cars like the E38 7 Series, most being in a foreign language or shaky cellphone footage of dark burnouts.
TestDrive is really pleased to have the chance to finally drive the V12 750iL, and it was one of my goals both professionally and personally. It had always been my hope to buy the 750iL as the V12 was the ultimate version of an already excellent car. Yes, Alpinas exist but are next to impossible to find in Canada and cost more than most new BMWs, so the V12 was always an attainable goal. Since we settled for the V8 we wanted to make sure we featured this car to see what made it special over it's little brother.
Our Spotlight is on this 2000 BMW 750iL. It's an LCI (facelift) model which means the front headlights updated from rectangular blocks to the scalloped design we see. The rest of the exterior remained essentially the same, painting the lower valences and side skits to match the body trim, but still leaving the door guard trim flat black. As this is a 2000 model year the signal indicators are amber instead of clear, but given the outstanding physical condition this car is in, the amber lights don't date it as it would on other models.
Inside we find one of the most exclusive leather options and trims available for non-Individual vehicles. BMW offered this tobacco full leather in all markets except the United States, and only producing 24 750iLs with it. The comfort seats are in excellent shape given the age of the car and truly look amazing in person. The owner of this car has upgraded the steering wheel with the E39 M5 leather wrapped and stitched version, as well as upgraded the navigation unit to the late 2001 MY widescreen edition. Aside from that the interior is completely original, including the Motorola cellphone in the centre console.
With the V12s BMW added extended leather throughout the car. The dashboard, centre console, and door cards all get leather treatment over the plastic composite found on other models. Additional wood was added as well, including wood along the front map lights, rear of the front seats, the B-Pillars, and upgraded wood mood lighting along the C-Pillars. The only thing to note about this car was an anomaly with the chrome line interior package. The grab handles above were regular plastic to match the headliner, whereas a wood/chrome accent piece should have been installed. We're not sure if the inlaid wood played a part in this or if the original owner asked BMW not to install them originally.
Speaking of that inlaid wood, it's a subtle upgrade over typical wood that makes this car feel more luxurious than it's stablemates. This is easily one of the most sought after trim kits available, with enthusiasts searching far and wide for full sets of wood for their own cars. If you aren't paying attention you might miss them though, as it's an unexpected upgrade over what's traditionally found in vehicles today.
Since we're looking at the long wheelbase version of this car, we should focus on the rear seating space. The door cards are wrapped in leather will fully functional side window shades, chrome line speaker grille, and wood ash tray. The airbag covers are finished in tobacco leather while the rest of the card is soft black leather, even at the bottom where the map pocket is. The backs of the front seats are also leather, so grabbing a newspaper or magazine from the pocket is soft for rear passengers. They also have the ability to adjust the rear seat backs, head rests, and lumbar support from controls found at the bottom of the seats. Heated controls are located under the centre console HVAC vents.
There are plenty of options that make the 750iL stand out when compared with the 740iL, such as the dual-pane laminated glass. All the windows are upgraded with this extra thick sound-insulating glass that truly keeps the sounds of the outside world out of this luxurious cabin. During our road test we found the interior noise level to be one of the quietest we've ever driven, mixed with the smooth and silent V12 up front this car ends up being one of the most comfortable and silent cars money can buy.
And on the topic of the ride, the V12 doesn't disappoint. It's not fast like today's full-size flagship German cars, but the 750iL definitely packs a punch over the V8s. Power delivery is instant with only slight transmission lag. It's quiet and smooth, so much so that when we'd stop at a traffic light we'd think we're driving a newer auto-start/stop BMW with how little we felt that engine idle. The one thing to note with these cars is the heat that V12 generates. When filming some of the engine work our crew experienced extreme heat on start up, so it's strongly recommended to keep an eye on the coolant system with these cars, and never work on them when the engine is hot.
We've covered what to look for with the E38 in our Buyers Guide video published earlier this year. The V12s are often considered to be more reliable engine-wise than the V8s, however the added complexity and part count makes the V12 as expensive to maintain, if not more considering how much additional technology and components make this heavy car operate. We invite you to watch our Spotlight on the 2000 BMW 750iL and check out the other videos we've published on the E38 BMW 7 Series.