1988 BMW 750iL

“Enter into a new world.”

After a year in production with just the straight 6, the second generation of BMW’s top of the line 7-series sedan got a V12 option in 1988. This engine, BMW’s first production V12, made a fairly effortless 296 bhp from its 5.0 liters and was designated M70.

BMW’s M70 V12, courtesy of Sv650k4 from the Wikimedia Commons.

This was, of course, back when BMW number and letter designations still meant something, so the breakout of the 7-series with the V12 was this:

7 – series

50 – 5.0 liters

i – fuel injected

L – long wheelbase

Of course, at the eye-popping base price of $69,000 (a little over $140,000 in 2013 dollars) the purchaser also got almost every piece of equipment BMW could put in the car. Anti-lock brakes, ZF’s Servotronic power steering, driver’s side airbag, trip computer, and a leather interior were all standard.

Beyond this, there were a few options available such as a limited slip differential. In addition, the buyer of a 750iL was paying the dreaded $1,850 gas guzzler tax—the original EPA estimate was 12 city/17 highway (the modern equivalent would be 11 city/16 highway).

I remember being in one of these cars when it was new and I felt it accelerated like a LearJet: weighing in at about 4,250 pounds, it still could do 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds and hit 155 mph—respectable sports car numbers in the late 1980s. At the time Car and Driver called it “the sedan of choice when money is no object”.

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