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    Sounds a little strange, doesn't it? Not the #BMW-745i-E23 part, which was re-introduced in 2002, but it written beside E23 model designation. This unicorn model, first-generation #BMW-7-Series was designed as a super luxury bahn-stormer from 1979, and with 252 ponies in the stall, it didn't disappoint.

    / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-E23 / #BMW-E23 / #BMW / #M102

    These cars were loaded with options from new, ranging from remotely controlled auxiliary heating, rear-armrest radio controls and water buffalo hides. An intention of producing the worlds best luxury car was most certainly in BMW's sights.

    The first 745i 23's used a specially developed #BMW-M102 3.0-litre engine, which was a strengthened #M30B30 / #BMW-M30 , with a #K27 turbocharger bolted to the side. In 1982 the engine grew from 3.0 to 3.4-litres, which required less boost pressure to produce the same horse-power. The same turbocharger gave the increase from 188 to 252bhp on both engine sizes, but the size of it next to the steering linkage fixed the car in left-hand-drive, removing it from the UK market. Damn and Blast.

    The UK market however, didn't miss the 745i and were amply satisfied with the 732i and 735i models to give adequate performance. Compared to similar vehicles from Jaguar and Mercedes, the 7 gave great economy, too. South Africa, you ask? Nope. Not even close. South African driver's, like in the UK, use right hand drive cars which the turbocharger setup didn't permit. BMW's first official subsidiary, needed a solution quickly. Enter the M88/3; The legendary 24 valve engine from the M1, rated at 290 horse power. There were just 209 of these goliath's built, and just 17/209 were specified with a 5-speed manual gearbox, making it one of the most limited production models in the company's history. Never officially badged, but known as the “M745i” gave the 7 Series it's only official BMW motorsport outing, in Class A of South African Modified Saloon Championship. Tony Viana won the class against Sierra XR8's and the nimble Alfa Romeo's of the time, but not without some incredibly hard work wrestling the comparably enormous chassis. The Winfield Racer pictured, is the actual car that won the championship and is still regularly used at period events and track meetings.

    The Blue & Grey pictured cars, are owned by Mohamed Baalbaki, and his friend in Dubai. The cars are european Turbocharged examples, which were imported to Japan when new, and then to UAE in the last 5 years. They have both had extensive maintenance and mechanical overhauls and have had awesome, newer BMW wheels fitted. Keep up the work guys!
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    A Highland Fling / 7 SERIES DRIVE / #BMW-7-Series-G12 / #BMW-740Ld-xDrive-M-Sport-G12 / #BMW-740Ld-G12 / #BMW-G12 / #BMW-740Ld-xDrive-G12 / #BMW / #2017

    A trip through Scotland in the latest #BMW-7-Series to visit the historic Machrihanish Airbase.

    David Finlay takes the latest 740Ld #xDrive for a nostalgic drive through Scotland to visit the site of an unlikely 7 Series-based record attempt in the 1980s. Words and photography: David Finlay.

    In a straight line, Machrihanish is 65 miles from the centre of Glasgow, or ‘just round the corner’ as those of us who live in the west of Scotland would say, but if you think this means you can get from one to the other by car in an hour or so you can forget it. The most efficient route involves travelling through Argyll, which has so many lochs that its coastline is longer than that of France. Not one of them has a bridge over it so, unless you’re prepared to wait for ferries the best option is to drive round them all, racking up over 140 miles in the process.

    It’s worth the trouble. Within half an hour of leaving the city you’re driving up the west bank of Loch Lomond where, even on a dull day, the scenery is such as to render non-locals slack-jawed. At Tarbet, where the A82 becomes the A83, you veer away towards the Rest And Be Thankful, bypassing a narrow track which was once a venue for a round of the British Hillclimb Championship, later a rally stage, and still used even now by rally drivers wanting to brush up on their Tarmac technique in the occasional Test On The Rest events. More prosaically, it also serves as a relief road when the A83 is blocked by increasingly frequent landslides.

    Feel free at this point to stop in the car park, gaze back down the glen and grab some refreshments at the burger van, but don’t get too excited about stories that the latter is operated by Dario Franchitti’s uncle. It used to be but it was taken over a few years ago by a chap called John Mather, who is splendid company and has an admirable policy about how much bacon there should be in a bacon roll.

    You’ll spend a long time after this swooping through bends on the banks of Loch Fyne until you reach Tarbert. (Yes, I know – lots of places in Scotland have names like this). The road then goes briefly cross-country across the top of the Kintyre peninsula before reaching the Atlantic coast. The scenery here is arguably the best yet, depending on your personal preference, and certainly the broadest.

    To your right are the distant islands of Jura and Islay (pronounced eye-lah) and the much closer Gigha (pronounced gee-ah). As sea views go, this one is quite splendid, but it stands in contrast to the fact that you’re now in rich farming country. It rains a lot round here, so the grass is very lush, contributing to the area’s deservedly high reputation for dairy produce.

    If you like, you can dart off to the left every so often and explore charming little lanes, though you’ll have to be prepared to reverse for long distances back to the nearest passing place so you can make room for farm traffic. You may prefer to keep the flow going as the A83 swoops southwards through tiny villages with varying levels of pronunciation difficulty such as Tayinloan, Glenbarr, Muasdale and Bellochantuy.

    This is probably the better option if, as I am, you’re driving a #BMW-740Ld-xDrive-M-Sport Nearly as wide as some of the smaller lanes, it’s much more suitable for the main road itself, progressing elegantly through the hundreds of sweeping curves and not feeling out of place on any of the much rarer tight ones even though it’s more than 17 feet long.

    My favourite of the three driving modes is Eco Pro. It gives you various fuel-saving possibilities (contributing to fuel economy of well over 40mpg on this run) and forces you into the Comfort setting for engine and gearbox response, which is my favourite anyway because I think Sport is a little too excitable. Within Eco Pro, however, you can select Sport for the steering and damping, and that’s what I do. For me, this setting suits Kintyre better.

    The ‘capital’ of Kintyre is Campbeltown, the fourth largest town in Argyll with a population of 4852 (according to the most recent census taken in 2011). A century ago, it had one of the highest per capita incomes in the whole of the UK, thanks to the success of its farming, fishing, shipbuilding and whisky industries, and while it no longer thrives to anything like this extent you can still see signs of the glory days, particularly in the design of some of the more spectacular houses.

    The former mining village of Machrihanish, a short drive to the west over mostly straight roads, isn’t short of architectural splendour either, particularly on the outskirts across the road from the internationally famous golf course. On his first visit here in the late 1870s, Scottish golfer Old Tom Morris exclaimed, ‘The Almighty had golf in his eye when he made this place,’ and since he had already won the Open Championship four times before he arrived I think we can safely take his word for it. The first hole is regarded in some circles as being one of the most difficult anywhere in the world because a careless tee shot can send your ball flying into the Atlantic, never to be seen again. I don’t know much about golf, but I’m pretty sure this is not a cause for celebration.

    This is by no means the only claim to fame Machrihanish can boast of. In 1906 a local transmitting station was at one end of the first successful two-way transatlantic radio broadcast, exchanging Morse code signals with an identical one in Massachusetts, though the mast collapsed later that year before the service became commercially useful.

    Then there’s the airfield. Formerly known as RAF Machrihanish, it was used for military purposes on and off from the First World War onwards and was still under Ministry of Defence responsibility until 2012, when it was sold to the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC).

    Part of the 10,003ft main runway is still used for small planes taking passengers to and from Glasgow, but the rest of the site now has many other purposes including a business park, a conference centre and it’s home to a very popular single-venue Tarmac rally.

    Furthermore, in recent years there have been sturdy efforts to have it named as the UK’s first spaceport. If this happens, Machrihanish airfield will suddenly become far better known than it has ever been before. Even now, it’s more famous than you probably realise. You may be aware of a successful 1985 Hollywood film called White Nights, which had a formidable cast including Gregory Hines, Helen Mirren, Isabella Rossellini, future Bond Girl Maryam d’Abo and ballet dancer turned actor Mikhail Baryshnikov. (Further unnecessary detail: Lionel Ritchie’s song Say You, Say Me was written specifically for it, and went on to become a US number one hit.) Early in the film, Baryshnikov’s character is unfortunate enough to be in a Boeing 747 when it crash lands in Siberia. It would be quite common, and indeed understandable, for this scene to be faked, but it wasn’t, except for the fact that the studio saved money by buying an older Boeing and converting it to look like a 747. According to Malcolm McMillan, MACC’s Business Development Manager, the crash itself was genuine, and performed at Machrihanish by an Irish stunt pilot who cheerfully stepped unharmed out of the wreckage to collect his no doubt considerable fee. Malcolm tells me about this during a pleasant chat after I arrive unannounced at his office and tell him the real reason I’ve brought the 740Ld here. This, you see, is more than just an enjoyable run to a gorgeous part of the world in a lovely car. It’s also, in a sense, a pilgrimage.

    I first visited Machrihanish in December 1988 to report on, of all things, an attempt on the UK rooftop ski speed record. The car used was a #BMW-745i-E23 , a turbocharged version of the recently discontinued 732i. The 745i of this era wasn’t sold in the UK because the turbo required engine bay space already taken up by the steering column on right-hand drive models, but a Glasgow-based company called AVA Turbos imported one and prepared it for circuit racing in the hands of the very experienced Iain Gardner. AVA was co-owned by Alan Clark, whose brother Norman was a successful downhill speed skier. It seemed perfectly reasonable for the 745i to be given a roof rack and a set of skis and taken to Machrinhanish, where Norman would climb aboard and hang on while Alan drove it flat-out down the main runway.

    Norman seemed quite placid about the whole thing, but there were risks. In particular, it was vitally important for him to maintain the tuck position. If he didn’t, one arm would fly backwards in the wind, followed almost immediately by the other arm and then the rest of him. The first Alan thing knew about it would be the sound of his brother’s crash helmet shattering the rear window. Rather him than me…

    On its first and only run the BMW went hurtling through the speed trap at 141.5mph, comfortably beating the existing record. The Clarks were happy, but knew they could go quicker. The speed trap had been set up very conservatively; it could be moved many yards further down the runway and still leave room for Alan to brake the car gently to a standstill.

    The car’s sponsor, who owned a building company in Glasgow, was more cautious. The team, he said, had achieved its goal. Rather than put Norman in any more danger, he suggested packing up right then and treating everyone present to lunch in Campbeltown.

    No one had any objection to this, not least because by this time our bodies were starting to protest at being subjected to midwinter Kintyre weather. We weren’t quite finished, though. Since it was impractical to have another car running alongside the 745i during the record run, it had not been possible to take decent pictures, so we had to mock them up.

    Alan and Norman went down the runway twice more at a modest 60mph, accompanied by me driving my parents’ Peugeot 309 with a couple of photographers hanging out of the passenger side windows. For Norman, this was no fun at all. He was in much less danger, but holding the tuck position for more than twice as long while experiencing a wind chill factor of ‘get me out of here’ was extremely uncomfortable. The 141.5mph run, he told us later, was the easy bit.

    Malcolm McMillan kindly allows me to take the 740Ld on to the main runway for a nostalgic photo shoot. The eastern section is now blocked off for commercial flights but I park on a section where the 745i had started to build up speed on its way to making history and gaze down towards where there was once, for a couple of hours, a carefully set up speed trap. This is the view the Clark brothers had on that perishingly cold day nearly 28 years ago. I envy them both to some extent, but I envy Alan far more than I do Norman.

    Satisfied with the experience, and grateful to Malcolm for his help, I fire up the 740Ld again and head back to a more densely populated area of Scotland. The drive home is every bit as delightful as the drive here was.

    It seemed perfectly reasonable for the 745i to be given a roof rack and a set of skis and taken to Machrinhanish where Norman would climb aboard and hang on.

    The road then goes cross-country across the top of the Kintyre peninsula before reaching the Atlantic coast. The scenery here is arguably the best yet.
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    Super Seven. The ultimate original #BMW-7-Series was this stunning M-powered 745i. / #BMW / #BMW-M7-E23 /

    Fairy Tale. The ultimate E23 Seven was the M-power 745i and we discover one man’s dream of owning one.

    An epic journey over four continents! From riches to rags and back again! Sounds like some kind of Hollywood blockbuster, right? Nope, this is the tale of Josh Barlowe’s 745i – a model with a unique story before it even left the factory! Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.

    The E23 745i was the only version of the 7 Series that sported a genuine M engine, in this case the 24-valve M88 ’six as used in the contemporary E28 M5 and E24 M635CSi.

    South African 745is generally had very high-spec interiors with every surface seemingly swathed in leather.

    “I said I’d take it off his hands for $13,000, to which he said yes!”

    Built in South Africa from 1984 to 1987, the M-powered 745i was a response to Johannesburg’s complaints that the German-built 745i that was available in Europe was not available in right-hand drive due to the turbo’s location. Munich’s solution? Swap in the M1’s M88/3 ‘six and send complete knock down (CKD) kits to Rosslyn, South Africa for assembly. The result was a luxury saloon, complete with memory seats, trip computer, climate control and, amazingly, pop-up cassette tape holders in the driver’s door, but with a supercar heart…

    …And a supercar price. Costing more than a Ferrari 308 GTB, the sticker may have been one reason why only 192 were built in automatic, with a further 17 in manual. One of those manuals actually raced in the South African Modified Saloon Car Championship, becoming the only 7 Series ever officially used in motorsport, while one of those 192 autos – the car you can see here – ended up in Josh Barlowe’s hands in Melbourne, Australia, albeit via a trip to Nottingham and Hong Kong.

    Barlowe says that after starting life in South Africa, the car apparently made its way to the UK; a sticker suggested someone bought it from Siddons of Nottingham. Then, as 745i owners tended to be quite wealthy, it was presumably shipped with the owners to Hong Kong. Sadly, at some point the love affair soured, as it was discovered decades later in a junkyard. Barlowe says the merchants who found both his and another 745i in the same yard purchased them for HK$400 a pop (£35 in today’s money!) and sent Barlowe’s to Australia, where it found its way into the hands of its previous owner: a mechanical engineer from Cooma, New South Wales who coaxed it back to life.

    It’s here that Barlowe’s role in the story begins. In late 1999, he was flicking through his E23 735i owner’s manual when he saw references to the turbocharged 745i. Sadly, after consulting his friends at Brighton BMW, he learned its left-hand drive spec meant almost zero chance of getting one in Australia. However, one of the parts managers then mentioned the M-Power 745i and directed Barlowe to Peninsula BM, the owner of which was into 7 Series.

    “The conversation I had with the owner there revealed he knew someone with an M745i in the LaTrobe Valley,” says Barlowe. Having introduced himself to the elderly owners, Norm and Faye, and spoken of his interest in it, the pair kindly invited Barlowe to lunch and, later, Barlowe got to experience the car’s prowess. “Norm took me for a spin on the back roads and let it open,” he continues. “We got in excess of 240km/h. I said, ‘where do you get one of these things?!’ Luckily, Norm happened to know of one in Cooma and said he and his wife could go and check it out, seeing as they were headed up that way anyway.” They reported it wasn’t in great condition but given its rarity and desirability, Barlowe decided to press on anyway. Initially, though, things didn’t go well. The owner wasn’t sure about Barlowe and wanted $30,000. Then the promised photos didn’t turn up.

    However, a few months later, Barlowe’s luck changed. “I remember it quite clearly, he says. “On March 24, 2000, I had an accident in my existing E23 735i and the car got written off. Strangely enough, the following Monday, I got a call from the 745i’s owner asking if I was still interested in his car!”

    With serendipity having smiled upon him once, Barlowe received another pleasant surprise when he found out the owner was selling it cheap due to a divorce: “We talked figures around $22,000 which I thought quite reasonable.” However, Barlowe could only afford $18,000 and after a couple of months of negotiations he eventually got his way, flying up to nearby Canberra after settling on $18,000 and encouraged by the pictures (which finally arrived) that suggested everything was actually okay.

    Of course, reality is often different to photos, and upon arrival, Barlowe found the car had been seriously neglected: “There were little dents in the back, the materials looked quite tired and there was some paint peeling off it so I said I’d take it off his hands for $13,000, to which he said yes!”

    After his purchase, Barlowe drove the car back to Melbourne and straight into the Brighton BMW garages, whereupon the manager, Rob Chester, took one look, shook his head and said, “what have you done?”. Barlowe had been talking to Chester in the lead-up to the purchase, and Chester kept advising him not to do it. However, Barlowe claims he “had to have it” and the timing did rather suggest “it was almost meant to be”.

    Sadly, though, even when fate is seemingly on your side, things can sometimes come back to bite you, and Chester ended up being proved right: “They had the car for a day to look over it and Chester called me back in the afternoon, sat me down at his desk and said, ‘would you like a whisky? I think you’re going to need one’.” Barlowe was then handed a five-page report of things that needed fixing. The estimate? $13,000 – the cost of the car.

    Not having the money back then, Barlowe and Chester agreed that doing the minimum to get it roadworthy and registered would be enough initially, with the rest best handled as a project. To keep himself on the road in the meantime, Barlowe purchased an E32 735i daily as well.

    As with many projects, things progressed slowly after that. It took two years before Barlowe could rebuild the suspension, for example, including the self-levelling mechanism on the rear, and fix up all the running gear. Next came the body, which was given a bare metal respray in its original Bronzit Metallic. Here Barlowe discovered some rust in the doors but, thankfully, apart from the tin worm and a little accident damage around the right-hand B-pillar, the rest of the body was pretty straight. At the same time as the respray, Barlowe sent the chrome trims to be refinished as well.

    At this stage, a few hiccups aside, things seemed to be progressing smoothly, but things soon changed. “I took it to a paintshop in Warragul on the recommendation of Norm and Faye,” Barlowe explains. “It committed to the job but then the owner decided to sell the business to her ex-husband so she then didn’t want to commit to the job. The paintshop, though, had already started stripping the car, so it ended up with me running around trying to find someone else to pick up the work.”

    Eventually, Barlowe found a shop called D-Line Smash Repairs in the same town who did “a beautiful job fixing it”, but even then the gods weren’t done playing with Barlowe. “As I was pulling out of Victoria Gardens shopping centre in Richmond, the boom gate came down on the car,” he relates. This, and another minor incident meant more touch-up work, this time at Superfinish in Moorabbin. Thankfully, insurance payouts covered everything and thanks to Superfinish’s skills, the paint on the roof and front end actually came out even better than the respray from D-Line. “It’s all ended up working in my favour, to be honest,” Barlowe laughs.

    A year later, Barlowe moved onto the interior, calling upon Unique Leather Restorations to refresh the car’s once-sumptuous Oyster Nappa leather interior. No small job, considering almost every surface inside the car, apart from the suede roof lining, is covered with dead cow. “We kept the original leather, bar one or two panels on the driver’s seat, and that was all stripped back and recoloured and reconditioned,” Barlowe says. Any mechanical and electrical work was handed to SouthernBM, a specialist shop whose M235i we also featured in the January 2016 issue. The car was actually back with them at time of writing getting an oil leak fixed, and was also awaiting its new bucket shims and final tune.

    Barlowe says the eventual goal with the car is a close to factory-fresh restoration, although he’s veered away from this slightly when it comes to the wheels and ECU. The late-model E24 M635CSi TRX alloys still look factory but a trained eye will spot they’re not. Just for a little extra impact, Barlowe is also going to get them polished like the ones on his E32. As for the ECU, it’s been upgraded with a Powerchip custom tune for a bit more grunt.

    That the car isn’t complete yet doesn’t stop Barlowe driving it as often as he can. Indeed, he even took it over to New Zealand in 2012 (hence the NZ ‘Warrant of Fitness’ sticker) for the New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing, which celebrated 40 years of M. Admittedly he didn’t race it, but he did put in some hard driving during the parade sessions and pushed the car closer to its (very high) limits than he could on the road. “It was a fantastic experience,” he says.

    Even on public roads, though, it clearly drives brilliantly. On a post-shoot ride, while its 2.2-ton wet weight meant it wasn’t swift off the line, the M88 punched hard in roll-on acceleration, and though the car exhibited typical 1980s-style body roll, grip levels were impressive. Yes, modern iterations of the unique Michelin TRXs help, but it clung on admirably. Even the brakes, thanks to the four piston front and two piston rear callipers, were solid, although you definitely felt the inertia during hard stops.

    It’s the gearbox, though, that’s perhaps now the most amazing aspect of the car – at least in Sport mode. Left in auto, it’s just a regular slushbox but bespoke maps for this model mean that in Sport it locks up the torque converter in third and locks out fourth entirely. This results in manual-like downshifts and seamless upshifts. This isn’t hyperbole, either. There is literally no perceptible movement or loss of momentum when you upshift manually in Sport. It’s a miracle, and makes you wonder what we’ve lost in the last 30 years, because few gearboxes we’ve experienced since come close.

    It’s easy to see why, then, Barlowe has no interest in selling it. “I love it too much. You go and drive it and it’s so rewarding to drive,” he enthuses. “It gives you that true BMW experience.” A Hollywood-style happy ending, then. It really was meant to be.

    “It’s all ended up working in my favour, to be honest”

    The 1980s centre console was a riot of buttons – those heating and air con controls look complicated!

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E23 / #BMW-745i / #BMW-745i-E23 / #BMW-745i-SA /

    ENGINE: #M88/3 / #BMW-M88 / #M88 / 3453cc six-cylinder (93.4mm bore, 84mm stroke), 24-valve crossflow head, 264-degree camshafts, 10.5:1 compression ratio, #Bosch-ML-Jetronic fuel injection, #Bosch-Motronic engine management with custom #Powerchip tune

    GEARBOX: #ZF four-speed automatic transmission #ZF4HP / #ZF4HP22 , 3.73:1 final drive ratio, limited-slip differential

    MAX POWER: 290hp @ 6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 251lb ft @ 4400rpm
    CHASSIS: Pressed steel monocoque
    FRONT SUSPENSION: McPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
    REAR SUSPENSION: Semi-trailing arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar, self-levelling mechanism
    BRAKES: 300mm ventilated discs with four-piston calipers (front), 285mm solid discs with two-piston calipers (rear), ABS
    WHEELS: #Fuchs-TRX one-piece alloys from late model E24 M635CSi (415mm x 195mm ET20, 5x120 PCD)
    TYRES: 240/45 VR415
    • Seventh heaven. I’m planning to take the plunge and buy a first generation 7 Series in the next few weeks and just wanted to check if you have ever doSeventh heaven. I’m planning to take the plunge and buy a first generation 7 Series in the next few weeks and just wanted to check if you have ever done a Buying Guide for one of these fine cars?

      I plan to drive the E23 as a weekend car for a few years and then move onto an E32 Seven. The E32 is the car that got me into #BMW s, when I was about ten years old or so! I remember it vividly, seeing a black E32 with a wide grille and I’ve dreamed about the 7 Series ever since. I drove an E38 728i for eight years, an E65 750i for over a year, but have subsequently now downgraded to an E60 523i after my son was born. Funny, all my cars were bought second-hand in the UK (mainland or Northern Ireland) – UK cars are much better spec’d than those in Ireland due to nasty excise duty in the Republic (called Vehicle Registration Tax, ranging from 14 to 36 per cent – only Norwegians and Singaporeans have higher import taxes I’ve heard!).

      That’s why the E23 makes commercial sense as a backup car – motor tax is outrageously expensive in Ireland, unless you drive a modern diesel (CO² emissions-based since 2008, previously engine size). The 750i was €1800 per year, the 728i was €1300 and even the 523i is €1100 (by comparison a modern 520d can be as little as €200). For classic cars over 30 years old, motor tax is only €56, plus you get lower vintage insurance. Then there’s the unquantifiable joy of driving something unusual (there are very few E23s left, I plan to preserve one for posterity). I’m inspecting the E23 with my mechanic colleague in the UK in a few weeks time, quite excited about it.

      I’m reading every edition of BMW Car diligently. I enjoyed the feature about the South African #BMW-E23 / #BMW-745i-E23 – loved the leather-swathed interior. Thanks for bringing joy into lives of Blue Roundel enthusiasts!
        More ...
    • First off, our most recent Buying Guide to the E23 Seven was in the June 2011 issue, and it’s great to hear from someone who is actively searching forFirst off, our most recent Buying Guide to the E23 Seven was in the June 2011 issue, and it’s great to hear from someone who is actively searching for one of these brilliant cars. Those car tax figures are crazy, we can quite understand why you’re searching out an older model. Good luck with your search.   More ...
    • E23 745i M88 SA - is the best E23 7-series ever. I think it is the first M7 car, more cool than E32 750i V12 and many more bimmers made after. Rare, cE23 745i M88 SA - is the best E23 7-series ever. I think it is the first M7 car, more cool than E32 750i V12 and many more bimmers made after. Rare, clean and unique! Automatic ZF 4HP was never agregated before and after with M88 unit - and very cool for mid-80s BMW automatic gearbox selector with naturally skinned cover! Interior perfect. Look clean and stream.   More ...
    • Production Versions 6918: South African-spec (RHD) manual, 01/1984 through 01/1986 6928: South African-spec (RHD) automatic, 01/1984 through 04/1987 HProduction Versions
      6918: South African-spec (RHD) manual, 01/1984 through 01/1986
      6928: South African-spec (RHD) automatic, 01/1984 through 04/1987

      What makes the South African E23 745i unique?
      The South African E23 745i is unique in that it is the only 7 Series model that is powered by the BMW Motorsport-designed 24-valve M88 powerplant also used in the E24 M635CSi coupe and E28 M5 sedan. This effectively makes it an "M7" in all but name. E23 745i models sold in the rest of the world use a turbocharged version of the 12-valve M30 engine instead.

      Why was the M88-powered 7 Series not badged as an M7?
      It is not entirely clear why the M88-powered 7 Series was not badged as an M7. It may have been because of BMW AG's policy (which continues to this day) of not bestowing any 7 Series model with a proper M badge. It may also be because BMW AG did not wish to upstage the turbocharged 745i sold in Europe, which was ultimately less powerful than the 24-valve version.

      Why was the M88-powered E23 745i developed for South Africa?
      After experimenting with various new V8 and V12 engines, BMW AG decided to use a turbocharged version of the existing SOHC M30 inline-six in its flagship E23 7 Series model. However, because of packaging restrictions caused by the addition of the turbocharger, this engine could not be fitted to right-hand drive cars.

      Not content with selling a left-hand drive version of the 745i in a right-hand drive market, BMW of South Africa decided to instead to create a unique E23 variation powered by the 24-valve M88 engine already developed by BMW Motorsport for the E24 6 Series and E28 5 Series. Assembled in South Africa from Complete Knock-Down (CKD) kits, this special right-hand drive model was sold exclusively in the domestic market, though at least one example was subsequently exported to Europe.

      Why is the M88-powered 745i unique to South Africa?
      BMW has never officially stated why the German-built 745i models did not receive the M88 engine. The most likely explanation is that the M88 powerplant, developed originally for the M1 sports car, is a fairly noisy unit that develops its peak power at a relatively high engine speed. This was perhaps at odds with the role of the 7 Series as a refined luxury sedan, thus the smoother turbocharged unit was deemed more appropriate for use in 745i models sold in all other markets. In addition, it is unlikely that BMW could have produced enough M88 engines to satisfy demand, had the M motor been used in the German-built 745i.

      Where was the South African E23 745i built?
      Like all E23 7 Series sold in South Africa, the 745i was assembled in small numbers at BMW's Rosslyn, South Africa factory from Complete Knock-Down (CKD) kits supplied from Germany.

      Production Data

      How many versions of the M88-powered E23 745i were developed?
      Just one version of the M88-powered 745i was developed, exclusively in right-hand drive for the South African market.

      How many examples of the M88-powered E23 745i were prodcued?
      209 examples of the M88-powered 745i sedan were produced by BMW South Africa from January 1984 through April 1987. Of these, approximately 17 were equipped with a Getrag 5-speed manual transmission (model 6918) and the remainder were fitted with a ZF four-speed automatic (model 6928).

      What changes were made to the South African E23 745i during its producton?
      With the exception of minor equipment alterations common to the entire E23 7 Series range such as an updated steering wheel design and improved on-board computer, there were no major changes to the South African 745i during the two and a half years that it was produced.


      What makes the M88 powerplant unique?
      The M88 engine in the South African 745i is an evolution of the 24-valve inline-six developed for the mid-engine M1 supercar and is identical to the unit used in the non-catalyst versions of the E24 M635CSi and E28 M5. Like the 12-valve M30 engine upon which it is based, the M88 has a displacement of 3,453cc via a bore of 93.4mm and a stroke of 84mm. Unique to the M88 is the four-valve crossflow cylinder head (with 37mm inlet valves and 32mm exhaust valves) designed for better breathing at high rpm and a pair of 264-degree camshafts. With Bosch Motronic engine management and a lack of smog controls, the M88 produces 286 hp (DIN) at 6,500 rpm and 251 lb/ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

      It is worth noting that the M88 engines fitted to early examples of the South African 745i are simply inscribed "BMW" on their cam cover in place of the later "M Power" designation shared with the E24 M635CSi and E28 M5.

      What kind of gearboxes were offered on the South African-spec 745i?
      Most examples of the South African-spec 745i were equipped with a computer-controlled ZF four-speed automatic transmission with Sport, Economy and Manual shift point modes mated to a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio and limited slip differential. Unlike the German-built 745i, the South African version was also offered with a Getrag five-speed manual gearbox with a "dogleg" shift pattern and the following ratios: 3.72 (1), 2.40 (2), 1.77 (3), 1.24 (4), 1.00 (5). These were equipped with a 3.45:1 rear end with limited slip.


      How is the South African-spec 745i's suspension different from that of the German-built version?
      The suspension of the South African-spec 745i is slightly firmer than that of the European-spec model and a load-leveling rear axle is standard.

      What size brakes does the South African-spec 745i have?
      The South African-spec 745i is equipped with the same brakes as the E24 M635CSi and E28 M5: 11.8-inch (300mm) vented discs in front and 11.2-inch (285mm) solid discs in the rear with standard ABS.

      What size wheels and tires does the South African-spec 745i have?
      The South African-spec 745i is fitted with BBS Mahle cross-spoke alloy wheels featuring special center caps bearing the BMW Motorsport colors. These measure 7x16-inch in front and 8x16-inch in rear and are fitted with staggered 205/55VR16 (front) and 225/50VR16 (rear) tires.


      How does the exterior of the South African-spec 745i differ from that of the German-built model?
      The exterior of the M88-powered 745i is distinguished from other 7 Series models only by its 16-inch BBS Mahle alloy wheels. There are no M badges or any other special trim items on the exterior of the car.

      How is the interior of the South African-spec 745i different from that of the German-built model?
      Unlike the exterior, the interior of the M88-powered 745i contains many special features. The entire cabin including the dashboard, center console, door panels and headliner is covered in ultra-soft Nappa leather (later known as the "Highline" interior, this extensive leather option was not offered on German-built E23s until the final 1986 model year). The center console itself is shaped slightly differently than in other E23 models, with the power window switches located around the shifter instead of around the parking brake handle and the ashtray located behind the shifter instead of below the radio. On cars with an automatic transmission, the shift lever lacks the usual "PRND321" markings and is surrounded by a leather boot. Also unique to the South African-spec 745i is a special instrument cluster with the M logo on both the speedometer and tachometer faces though it appears that the M logo was removed from the speedometer face early into production. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is a three-spoke (non-M) design.

      What features are included in the South African-spec 745i's interior?
      The interior of every South African-spec 745i is equipped with essentially all available E23 features including power windows, power mirrors, power front seats, power rear seats, power glass moonroof (deletable upon request), automatic climate control, cruise control, check control, on-board computer, radio/cassette audio system and rear window sunshade.

      Special Versions


      Color and Upholstery Selections

      The E23 745i M88 was offered in the same exterior paint colors that were available on all South African-built E23s produced during the same production period. However, its unique complete Nappa leather interior was offered only in Oyster and Indigo.
        More ...

    • Matt Petrie COOL INFO! Thanks!
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    Now imported into Britain the Bavarian #Alpina-B9 -3.5 is a blisteringly fast version of BMW's Five Series #E28 saloon. In its performance the car simply has no peers.

    The world's fastest production saloon comes from Bavaria. At a glance, the four-door powerhouse looks very much like a humble 118mph #BMW-518i-E28 . but when the throttle is opened, this inconspicuous metamorphosis of a Five Series BMW will instantly blow off any five seater rival - from Munich's own #BMW-745i-E23 , through the #Mercedes 500SE #W126 to Jaguar's XJ 5.3 HE. On an empty stretch of road, preferably dry, the car will top an honest 153mph (that's it, one hundred fifty-three) with the tachometer needie nudging the redline at 6100rpm. The lair of the performance giant is in the picturesque village of Buchloe halfway between Munich and the Tyrolean border, where a performance car addict called Burkard Bovensiepen has devoted himself to the production of very special motor cars named Alpina. But now, there’s a brand new British connection. BMW (GB) have just begun importing Alpina converted cars, plus Alpina parts and accessories, and Sytners, the Nottingham dealers, are to build and retail the cars. This first model, the B9, costs £22,894, and will be sold here at a rate of about 40 a year, something which will ensure the B9’s exclusivity.

    Alpina’s latest creation wears the full model designation B9-3.5. Burkard Bovensiepen explains: ‘We used "A” to cover our development of BMW's small fours, and B labels the modified sixes. The figure ‘‘9" denotes the ninth improvement we made to this unit, and 3.5 of course, indicates the engine capacity.'

    The #Alpina-E28 B9-3.5 is based on a BMW 528i #M30B28 fitted with a revised big-bore 3.4-litre slant-six #M30B34 BMW engine that is also used in the #735i #E23 saloon and in the #635CSi #E24 coupe. In true #Alpina tradition, the standard BMW engine undergoes thorough modifications, in the course of which the power output is increased from 218bhp to a very effective 245bhp at 5700rpm. ‘Top priority is more torque, better acceleration and a significantly higher top speed', marketing manager Gunter Schuster explains, ‘but the one thing we did not want to end up with was some nervous, pseudo racing car powerplant that would inevitably be hit by reliability problems and excessive thirst, would be difficult to service and too fragile for everyday use’.

    Bovensiepen, who hates being called a mere car tuner, and engine specialist Wolfgang Siebert together set out to breathe new life into the engine without affecting its longevity and serviceability, but with the ambitious aim of at the same time increasing the power output and improving the fuel economy. The engines getredesigned camshafts, the compression ratio is raised from 9.3 to 10.2 to one, their special, balanced pistons have a quench zone for superior thermodynamic efficiency, and the cylinder head with its hemispherical combustion chambers, like the inlet manifold, are shaped and polished to make the gases flow more freely. Other modifications include revised fuel injection settings and minor changes made to the #Bosch #Bosch-Motronic engine computer that monitors fuel feed, ignition and exhaust emission.

    ‘While many so-called tuning firms often just attend to the engine without touching the rest of the car, we don’t do anything by halves,' Bovensiepen claims.

    ‘Like all our products, B9-3.5 has uprated suspension and a redesigned interior.’ To teach the basic #BMW-528i better road manners and to attune the chassis to the extra potential of 61bhp more than standard, suspension expert Alois Wiesinger fits progressive-rate coil springs, specially developed adjustable #Bilstein gas-pressure shock absorbers and 16in alloy wheels, shod with fat 205/55VR #Pirelli P7 tyres at the front and with even wider 225/50VR rubber behind. To improve wet road traction, a limited-slip differential with a 25percent locking ratio is installed. The long-legged Getrag five-speed gearbox is taken unchanged from the standard production model: a three-speed automatic is optional.

    Although the 'basic' B9-3.5 is a vastly understated car that can only be distinguished from its mass-market brothers by its wider wheels and tyres, most buyers opt for the full Alpina trim pack which includes a prominent front spoiler, a black rubber lip on the bootlid and several feet of contrasting stripework stuck on the flanks, which gives the car rather boy- racer looks. According to Alpina, the aerodynamic aids are ‘an absolute necessity’, which help redTjce the aerodynamic drag factor by 9.0 percent, increase the top speed by 6.0 mph, cut front axle lift by 57 percent and rear axle lift by 4.0 percent. The spoilers are also claimed to have a positive effect on the car’s exceptional high-speed fuel economy. The Alpina B9-3.5 returns 37.7mpg at a steady 56mph and 30.9mpg at a constant 75mph, but even with the speedo indicating 125mph-plus wherever possible, the 245bhp Bavarian bullet will better 20mpg. Our hard- driven test car averaged an astonishing 24.1mpg over several hundred miles.

    Inside, the Alpina B9-3.5 feels far sportier and more purposeful than a standard #BMW-528i-E28 . The well-contoured bucket seats and the rear bench are trimmed in the ‘house colours' - black, blue and green. The tacho and speedometer wear Alpina logos, the dished, rather big-diameter standard steering wheel is replaced by a four-spoke leather-rimmed device, and an anodised vehicle identification plate mounted on the dashboard identifies the test car as the 20th B9 to leave Alpina, ‘makers of exclusive automobiles’. Standard equipment also includes a sophisticated sound system, tinted glass, electric door mirrors and a rear axle oil cooler. Extra cash can buy any option listed in the official #BMW brochure; such goodies as ABS anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning or electrically operated windows.

    Without extras, a B9 sells in Britain at a premium of £7400 over the already-expensive #E28 #BMW-528i-SE . ‘I know that our cars are not exactly cheap,' Gunter Schuster concedes, 'but Alpina cars do offer a unique combination of performance, prestige and exclusivity. Our production capacity is limited to a mere 200 cars per year, and less than half of those will be sold abroad. At present, our export efforts concentrate on Switzerland, France, Japan and Britain. The UK will soon be number one export market for us.’

    When you first sit in the relatively confined cabin of the B9, the environment is not as familiar as expected. The firmly- padded seats have little in common with the soft velour- trimmed originals. Alpina's own buckets seem to wrap your torso in a cocoon, minutely adjustable in rake, reach and height. The heavily-modified engine under the short, square bonnet sounds alien, too - marginally less civilised than the #528i unit, it answers all throttle inputs during warm-up with a hoarse, growl, impatiently awaiting the departure from city limits. The quick steering is ideally weighted to cope with really fast motorway esses and zig-zagged country lanes. In town, however, it feels a bit slow and slightly heavy, and it takes a firm hand to keep the car on course when longitudinal ripples make the fat wheels tramline. The handling is tough and precise, not sharp or nervous. Quickly and willingly the Alpina turns exactly where it is pointed. Treated decisively but with due respect, the Alpina is close to the perfect partner - responsive, precise, fairly docile; never acting on its own initiative.

    This obedience makes the #Alpina-B9-3.5 reassuringly safe, even at very high speeds. Stability and imperturbability are perhaps the two qualities which impress most. Even at 140mph the big saloon will cut through motorway bends with surprising ease and unerring precision. Back off and brake to stay clear from an overtaking truck, and there will be no drama: the rear end may go a little light while the nose is pressing into the road, and you may have to reduce lock an inch to maintain your chosen line, but that is all the car will need. The body remains composed and stable, trusting the chassis to sort out the conflict of forces. The fact that bump steer is virtually absent and that the camber changes are minimal also pays off on really bad roads tackled at speed. Here the #B9 doesn't even pretend to be a comfortable car- what the suspension cannot absorb is transmitted faithfully to steering and seats - and occupants- butthe reactions and reflexes of the chassis make up for it, by tying the car firmly to the ground when others would have lifted wheels.

    Like the model it is based on, the Alpina oversteers at the roadholding limit. But compared to a standard Five Series BMW, the car from Buchloe has enough oomph to hang its tail with superb control where its tame brother rolls and lurches rather more.

    The B9 can be pushed sideways with power, even in third or fourth gears, and in the wet, any overdose of torque needs to be administered with extreme caution. I remember drawing enormous black marks on the road in second gear when a nudge of the throttle promptly kicked the back out in the middle of a tightish corner - exciting, spectacular, but expensive and, ultimately, slow. I tried the bend faster and in third and, voila, the car bounded through on the edge of a well-behaved four-wheel drift, smooth and faster. The rear wheels broke eventually, when I floored the accelerator, but the control was very satisfying. It takes some time to get attuned to the Alpina's behaviour at the limit, indeed to actually locate precisely where the limit lies. At that stage, the owner will admire and respect the car's abilities in full.
    Put your mind to it. and the big Alpina will rush from 0 to 60mph in 6.8sec and in under 18sec from standstill to 100mph. Floor the throttle when lazily strolling along in fifth at 40mph. and the car can be doing 75mph in 15sec. Rev the engine to 4500rpm in first and second, and the maximum torque of 231lb ft will spin the fat P7s with ease. The Alpina B9 is a high performance car, but it is neither a rowdy handful only macho men can tame, nor a perfectly neutral, totally domesticated tool for beginners. It is a blend of both characters - competent, fast, and a lot of fun. What irony that the most desirable BMW saloon was not conceived by the original manufacturers themselves.

    Alpina B9 buyers can have car in standard BMW trim or go the whole hog with spoilers and side stripes. Alpina say first are necessity.

    Cabin is distinguished by sporty trim on seats, #Alpina logos on dash and four-spoked steering wheel. Much modified version of BMW 3.4-litre six replaces standard 2.8-litre engine under bonnet, pumps out 245 bhp at 5700 rpm for genuine 153 mph top speed. 6.8 sec 0-60mph. Engine flexibility is excellent, economy remarkable.
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