2000 BMW 740i Sport review

BMW loves to advertise themselves as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”. Many times, they’re right. For a lot of years, they’ve managed to make their vehicles of all sizes perform admirably. This generation of 7 Series (chassis code E38 for the obsessive crowd) was one of the best road driving large sedans of its time. In 1999, BMW upped themselves by introducing a Sport version of the shorter wheelbase 740i model. It took a really good car and turned it into a great car.

The changes that the Sport package added to the 740i were subtle but significant. All the exterior chrome was blacked out - fancily called Shadowline trim. This gives the 740i an almost sinister look, especially in darker colors. This car definitely has road presence to spare. The final drive ratio was lowered to improve acceleration. A stiffer and lower suspension was fitted, and was complemented by awesome-looking 18” parallel spoke rims. The auto trans was fitted with Sportshift for manual gear control, and several interior changes were made as well. All of this added up to make a good driving car into a true sport sedan. But we’ll get to that in a second.

The 740i Sport still retained much of the luxury that normal 7 Series owners got as well. In true BMW fashion, more emphasis was placed on driving performance than coddling the driver with excess luxury items. Oh, you still get everything you would probably expect from a luxury ride – all the power toys, memory seats, moonroof, blah blah blah, but you won’t find eccentric items. Most of the interior items are upscale in look and feel, but again you will see better execution in its competition.

What you won’t find in its competition is a phenomenal enthusiast-oriented driving experience. Adding the Sport package to the 7 Series seems to make the car shrink in size on the road. It feels far smaller and more nimble than any sedan its size has a right to. Road feel is outstanding. Toss the Sport into the curves and you easily discover its limits are higher than you probably ever feel comfortable discovering on public roads. The power spec looks modest on paper, but you’ll quickly discover that the 740i has plenty to move it down the road in haste. Passing or merging is done effortlessly. The transmission is quite responsive as well. If your needs dictate a larger sedan but your tastes run more towards an M3, then here is your ideal ride. Yes the M3 will still embarrass it, but if you want to cut loose on the road then the 740i Sport is up for it. Try similar moves in an S-Class, LS, or an XJ of the same generation and you’ll only embarrass yourself.

Sounds like a slam-dunk recommendation doesn’t it? It is – with a few caveats. Price one these days and they’re in the teens, with reasonable mileage, all day long. Not bad for a car that was north of $70k new. As usual, though, there’s a reason. Finding one with a warranty is next to impossible, and that’s exactly what they’re such a good deal. Remember that these were top tier luxury sedans in their day. Repair prices reflect that fact. For example, if the transmission lets go, expect an $8000 repair. Or in other words, at least half of what you probably put in to buy it in the first place. Don’t buy one without verifying service records, hoping that you found one cared for by an anal-retentive owner. Otherwise you’re rolling expensive dice chancing high dollar repairs. Don’t necessarily let this scare you off, just understand exactly what this car is.

Still, for the cost of a Kia, you too can have a top level luxury ride that still looks current (and in many ways better than the current generation), has all the utility of a large car, and performs like a sports car. Give it proper care, feeding, and lots of open road, and you’ll have a car you can enjoy in any and all conditions for years to come.

Photo property of BMW

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