Tradition 30 years of BMW twelve-cylinder (BMW 750i) - a monument of new power

BMW 750iL: The long version with twelve-cylinder generation E32

Since the summer of 1986, Munich has been floating in the seven sky, overtaking the second generation of the BMW 7er (E32) almost all competitors. "Top class from Bavaria" and "The best car in the world", the headlines of the media rolled over in praise for the six-cylinder 730i and 733i. BMW still had the real gem up its sleeve: a twelve-cylinder sedan like it hadn't been in Germany for half a century. In February 1987 the time had come, the BMW 750i and the long version 750iL with the newly developed 220 kW / 300 PS strong 5,0 liter V12 brought movement into the luxury class and triggered an unprecedented arms race in the worldwide luxury league.

BMW 750iL: The long version with twelve-cylinder generation E32

"BMW overtakes everyone" was the title of the trade press after the first test drives, referring not only to the Vmax of 250 km / h. Without speed reduction, even 270 km / h would have been possible, but there was a lack of adequate tires. Above all in terms of comfort and equipment, the monumental twelve-cylinder engine set new standards. At 160 km / h and just above 2.000 tours, almost no engine noise was audible according to media opinion. Even more important was the prestige factor of the V12, which euphorized the well-off clientele. Even before the premiere, BMW counted blind orders for the flagship 3.000, which for the first time displaced the Mercedes S-Class from board parking spaces.

BMW 750iL: The long version with twelve-cylinder generation E32

However, the BMW 750i and 750iL were not only aimed at buyers of the Mercedes S-Class, the first twelve-cylinder with catalytic converter also countered the English V12 luxury liners from Jaguar and Daimler. In North America, the world's most important luxury market, the 5,02 meter long 750iL was even considered an alternative to Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit and Bentley Mulsanne. Rolls-Royce emphasized which class the German high-end engine had eleven years later, because from then on the Silver Seraph was actually equipped with the BMW V12 engine. But even in terms of comfort, the BMW 750iL could already offer 1987 with exceptional features. This included the multi-zone automatic climate control for front and rear passengers with pre-programmable parking ventilation.

Interior of the BMW 750iL of the E32 generation

The character of the chauffeur-driven limousine was emphasized by new rear headrests that automatically extend when the seat cushion is under load, as well as electrically adjustable rear seat cushions and backrests. If these amenities were not enough for you, bodies like Hamco provided the V12 with an additional 28 centimeter wheelbase, bar furnishings and all modern office communication tools as well as armor. The already proud price of the BMW 750i rose from 102.000 to 450.000 Mark for the all-inclusive V12. The latter, by the way, cost 50 percent more than a Rolls-Royce Silver Spur, making it the most expensive sedan in Germany. In comparison, the performance-enhanced 257iL from Alpina to 350 kW / 750 PS looked like a special offer: 208.000 marks were due for the Alpina B12 5.0 L, which was the fastest series sedan in the world at 275 km / h.

BMW 750iL of the E32 generation in the armored version

The "cheapest" BMW 750i already set standards in driving comfort, because the new electronic "Damper Control" was standard. For this, BMW used two-stage switchable shock absorbers, each with two valve systems working independently in double pistons. At the push of a button, the driver was able to choose between a comfort-oriented and a sporty, tight suspension setup. The latter contributed to the fact that the press cheered: "straight ahead, even at top speed." Anyone who fully enjoyed the 220 kW / 300 PS and the sensational 450 Nm torque at the time had to put up with 20 to 23 liters of consumption. The standard consumption of 10,5 liters at 90 km / h was only of a theoretical nature; after all, the Munich twelve-cylinder was more economical than the new V205 in the 297 SEL, which releases 8 kW / 560 PS, and with which Mercedes quickly upgraded. A V8 that did not change the fact that the Bavarian thick ship with optional double glazing sat at least temporarily in front of the eternal top-class bestseller with a star in the German registration statistics.

BMW 750iL of the E32 generation in the armored version

Today, 220 kW / 300 PS look modest for a luxury sedan, as even the smallest BMW as the M140i offers significantly more power. However, 30 years ago the BMW 750i reached a sound barrier that not even Jaguar Sovereign V12 and Maserati Quattroporte / Royale V8 had broken. Two sedans that were formerly the fastest four-door vehicles in the world and were dethroned by a V12 with exemplary engine smoothness. This was made clear at the public premiere by coins placed upright on the engine block, which did not fall over while the machine was running. The control of the light metal unit, which weighs only 240 kilograms, was also trend-setting. Two completely separate electronic systems took over the control of fuel injection and ignition for each six-cylinder bank, which were at an angle of 60 degrees to each other.

BMW 750iL: The long version with twelve-cylinder generation E32

However, it also took 15 years of preparatory work and two predecessor V12 before the BMW technicians presented their series engine made of light metal. A first 5,0-liter V12 from 1974 was too difficult and two smaller 3,6-liter and 4,5-liter V12 from 1977 failed under the aftermath of the first energy crises. Five years later, the discussions about energy shortages were temporarily over and BMW ventured into a completely new development, which was successfully put to the test after just ten months. How brave the 1982 renewed commitment to the V12 was, is also shown by the comparison with Jaguar, where the 1986 series XJ40 was initially not designed for V12. Mercedes was even able to restore 1991 with the S-Class of the W140 series with an even larger 6,0-liter V12 to the balance of power they were used to.

This twelve-star with a star outclassed the timelessly elegant BMW 7er of the E32 series by Claus Luthe: on the one hand, the Mercedes 600 SE developed as many kW as the BMW had in terms of horsepower. On the other hand, the Big Benz appeared so stately that the BMW 750i looked like a dainty mid-range sedan in comparison.

BMW 750iL: The long version with twelve-cylinder generation E32

Where there is light, there are also shadows. So the 7ers of the E32 series could not yet reach the quality level of the mature S-Class W126, as especially buyers knew who drove both models. The V12 was initially not as robust as the legendary BMW six-cylinder and the 1992 introduced in the 7er V8. Problems that BMW solved, at the latest with the 1994 launched third generation 7er.

BMW 730i of the E32 generation: the six-cylinder model had a significantly smaller grille than the 750i

Nevertheless, the second BMW 7er did not succeed precisely because of the V12, which its predecessor, the baroque BMW V8 from the 1950 years, the models 2500 to 3,3 liters and the first 7er (E23) did not achieve: It shot BMW into the sphere of the global automotive noble class , And with a respectable total sales of over 310.000 units. (Tungsten nickel / SP-X)

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