Here’s every generation of the BMW 7 Series | Top Gear
Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear

Subscribe to BBC Top Gear Magazine

Save 50% on a year - just £32.99
subscribe
Tuesday 6th December
Top Gear Advice

Here’s every generation of the BMW 7 Series

TG cannot be held responsible for any subsequent timewasting on classifieds, FYI

BMW 7 SERIES HISTORY
  • BMW 7 Series (E23)

    BMW 7 Series (E23)

    What is it?

    The original Big BMW saloon. Launched in 1977, this car took over from the ‘New Six’ era of Bimmers, based around a timeless design by Paul Bracq. Evidence of BMW’s ‘shark nose’ era on display here. BMW said this car showed “incomparable refinement and performance at every power stage”. Of course it did.

    Funny to think this big luxury saloon was only a fraction longer than the current generation 3 Series.

    What engines did it have?

    Straight-sixes ahoy, ranging from 2.5 to 3.5-litre units, the latter a range-topping 745i. That monster arrived in 1980 and could hit 141mph.

    How many did BMW build?

    Over 270,000 throughout its nine-year lifespan.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • BMW 7 Series (E32)

    BMW 7 Series (E32)

    What is it?

    BMW hitting its stride. We might jest about the ever expanding kidney grilles plastered over modern BMWs but the metamorphosis began back in the Eighties. 1986’s 7er featured wider grilles, those classic twin round headlights, and a more upright stance than Bracq’s design.

    What engines did it have?

    A pair of straight-sixes, a pair of V8s (later on in its life) and a 5.0-litre V12; “the first of its kind to be used in German automobile manufacturing since 1945”. That’s the range-topping 750i: a 300bhp luxury saloon capable of 155mph.

    How many did BMW build?

    From 1986 to 1994, BMW shifted around 310,000 of these E32s. Which, if you’ve just read the slide above, is more than… the car in the slide above.

  • BMW 7 Series (E38)

    BMW 7 Series (E38)

    What is it?

    The car you’re most likely to go and hunt for on your preferred classified provider. This is a stone cold BMW classic. BMW notes lots of technical highlights onboard the E38, but it’s the exterior that is so correct. (Also interesting to note the kidney grilles were wider than the E32.)

    What engines did it have?

    Many. It’s the first 7 Series to get a diesel unit – a straight-six of course, followed later by a V8 – while petrols took the shape of six-, eight- and 12-cylinder units. The 750i returned for this generation with more power of course, while BMW also trialled a hydrogen version dubbed 750hL.

    How many did BMW build?

    Between 1994 and 2001, around 327,000 E38s found very lucky homes. No, you’re running off to find an old 740i. BRB.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • BMW 7 Series (E65)

    BMW 7 Series (E65)

    What is it?

    The 7 designed under direction from former design boss Chris Bangle. You may have heard of him. Designed to break with previous BMWs and usher in The Future, this was about as revolutionary as a big German saloon got. New headlights. Offset bootlid. Wider kidneys (sensing a theme here?). A sloping, almost fastback rear. Looked wild back then, and still does now.

    First BMW to get iDrive too, which covered some 700 functions via the rotary controller. This one came in LWB form (codenamed E66) and even a ‘high-security version’ (E67).

    What engines did it have?

    Standard six-, eight- and 12-cylinder units, the highlight being the monster 760i which somehow shoehorned in a 6.0-litre V12 up front kicking out 440-odd horsepower.

    How many did BMW build?

    Around 343,000 of these E65s were built between 2001 and 2008.

  • BMW 7 Series (F01)

    BMW 7 Series (F01)

    What is it?

    Slightly tamer than the one that came before it, at least in the big markers of the more ‘conventional’ headlights and rear treatment applied by former BMW designer Karim Habib. Saw active service between 2008 and 2015.

    What engines did it have?

    Regular line-up, comprising all the cylinders in all the favoured layouts, but the F01 marked the first time a 7er came with a hybrid powertrain. It started off with a V8 + electric motor, later downsized to the turbo straight-six + beefier electric motor. Elsewhere you got six-, eight- and 12-cylinder cars of course, the range-topper a whopping 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12. That one packed 540-odd horsepower.

  • BMW 7 Series (G11)

    BMW 7 Series (G11)

    What is it?

    The one with the really massive grille, though that was only grafted to its nose in 2019. The outgoing G11 7er started out in 2015 with something a little more conservative, based around a composite body made of CFRP, aluminium and steel. Hits first seen in BMW’s revolutionary ‘i’ cars.

    What engines did it have?

    Petrol and diesel ones, as well as a 745e hybrid that paired a 3.0-litre turbo six to an e-motor. The 750i however, got a then all-new V8 – that’s right, BMW engineered a brand new eight-cylinder in 2019 – with 520bhp.

    Oh yeah, 2019. That year’s facelift brought with it the grille from the X7. The rest, as they say…

  • BMW 7 Series (2022-)

    BMW 7 Series (2022-)

    What is it?

    It’s the brand new i7. There Will Be Opinions.

    What engines does it have?

    Electric and hybrid only,  and you can read all about it here.

    Advertisement - Page continues below

More from Top Gear

Loading
See more on Top Gear Advice

Promoted Content

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Subscribe to BBC Top Gear Magazine

Save 50% on a year - just £32.99
subscribe