Past to Present: How the BMW 7 Series Has Evolved

Where has the 7 Series been in its 42-year lifespan?

For BMW, the 7 Series represents their flagship luxury sedan. The 2020 BMW 7 Series just made its debut, so we wanted to take a look back at all the previous generations of the BMW 7 Series to see how the car has evolved over the years.

E23 (1977-1987)

The first generation of the BMW 7 Series was introduced back in 1977. Back then, BMW did not offer so many large cars as they do now. The 7 Series was by far their biggest here in the US. It featured a plethora of different BMW inline six-cylinder engines. The range went from a smaller 2.5-liter I-6 up to the famous 3.5-liter M88 I-6. The 7 Series, being a rival to the ever-advanced Mercedes S-Class, had to bring some impressive tech to the table. One such technology included ABS brakes, which eventually became standard equipment on the E23.

E32 (1987-1995)

With the second generation came more technology, and more cylinders, plus slightly updated styling and multiple wheelbases. The base engine remained a straight-6. However, BMW also offered the E32 7 Series with a 3.0-liter and 4.0-liter V8 and a 5.0-liter V12. That V12 was only available with the long wheel base version of the 7 Series. Though, the V8s could be had in both short and long wheel base versions. Max power output rose to 300 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque with the V12 engine.

Upgraded tech offerings now included traction and stability control. Not crazy high-tech by today’s standards. But, for 1987? Pretty futuristic. Oh, and you still got an in-car cell phone.

E38 (1995-2001)

This generation is, for many (including our own Nathan Adlen), the pinnacle of the 7 Series. BMW updated the styling once again, but kept a lot of the things that we loved about the old one. You still had the choice of a V8 or V12. You still had short and long wheel bases. However, the looks got even more refined. Plus there was something called the L7, which was essentially a limousine with an even longer wheelbase. Though estimates say roughly 800 of those made it to the US.

All of the above would result in this becoming the best-selling 7 Series thus far. Even though it had to compete with the recently released Lexus ES and the Audi A8.

E65 (2001-2008)

This is where things started to get, well, a little round. BMW updated the 7 Series with the ‘flame surfacing’ design language, much like the 5 Series. Though, we did get a 4.4L V8 and a 6.0L V12. That 6.0L V12 was the first of its kind to use direct-injection, by the way. Power topped out at 439 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Or, if you bought the Alpina B7 (which was sold through BMW dealerships) that 4.4L V8 got a supercharger and made 500 horsepower.

F01 (2008 – 2015)

BMW toned down the ‘flame surfacing’ with this generation. Though, the overall design is still rather curvaceous. This generation made notable use of turbocharging throughout much of the range. A turbo I6, turbo V8, turbo V12 and turbo 4-cylinder hybrid were all available here in the US. Heck, we even got a turbo diesel for the first time in the US in the 7 Series. Oh, and x-Drive finally found its way to the BMW 7 Series with this generation.

G11 (2015-Present)

The sixth generation 7 Series was the first to be built on BMW’s modular platform architecture, OKL (Oberklasse, German for Luxury Class). Again, some slight styling updates gave the 7 Series a new face. However, powertrains remained fairly similar. Again, you have a 6-cylinder turbo, twin-turbo V8, twin-turbo V12 and a 4-cylinder turbo hybrid. However, the hybrid was made available in both wheelbase configurations.

2020 BMW 7 Series

2020 BMW 7 Series

And now we have the latest 7 Series. To read up on the latest generation, be sure to read the full post covering everything you need to know about the latest luxury sedan from BMW.

The BMW 7 Series has had quite the lifespan here in the US. From its 6-cylinder beginnings all the way up to the turbocharged V12 technological monster it is today. We really want to know which 7 Series was your favorite! Drop us a comment down below and tell us which one you like best and why it is your favorite BMW 7 Series. If it were my choice, the E38 had the perfect combination of looks, power, and tech.

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While you contemplate your answer, you can also check out our video on the latest BMW 7 Series below: