The current sixth-generation 7 Series packs all sorts of mind-blowing technology and is regarded as one of the leading premium models in the luxury saloon segment, and rightly so. But, fortifying its flagship with all manner of tech isn’t anything new for BMW, it’s been doing this since 1977 — the year the E23 made its debut.
Service interval indicators, a ‘check control’ to alert drivers to various system faults, anti-lock brakes, an in-car cellular telephone and rear-armrest radio controls were just some of the wizbangery the 7 Series had on-board. This was all as eye-widening as gesture control is today. It didn’t just rival the space shuttle in terms of tech, it also felt as lavish as a five-star hotel thanks to a variety of options, including leather upholstery, several types of wood trim, power seats, seat heaters, and power windows and mirrors.
Designed by former Mercedes man Paul Bracq, the E23 was much bigger than the E3, the car it replaced as BMW’s full-size saloon. It was more aerodynamic, featured a pointier nose and better integrated bumpers along with a redesigned bonnet boot lid. Its larger front turn signals sat next to the headlights inside the grille but Bracq retained as much chrome trim from the E3 as possible. The brightwork was present from the front fascia to the side mirrors and window trim and gave the 7 Series a touch of class.
During its ten-year production run, it was powered by the 12-valve M30 six-cylinder, which it inherited from its predecessor, including 2.5-, 2.8-, 3.0-, 3.2- and 3.4-litre units. Power varied from 148 and 215 horses but a turbocharged version, the 745i was also made available. The 3.4-litre produced 248 horses. Transmissions included four- and five-speed manuals and automatics. It was a seriously impressive vehicle but still ended up playing second fiddle in terms of sales to the W126-generation S-Class.
285,000 E23s were built and it’s proving harder and harder to come across a well-maintained example — but they can be had for the bargain sum of Dh70,000.