BMW E23, the first 7 Series

BMW E23, the first 7 Series
For model year 1983, the E23 got, among other things, a new and more voluminous front

In May 1977, the E23 was introduced, better known as the first BMW 7 Series. BMW thus introduced a car that managed to live up to its high positioning in all respects.

The road to BMW's return to the Oberklasse had been paved in the previous nine years by the E3, the large sports sedan that managed to establish its own position within the exclusive class. Especially the extended variants of the E3 marked BMW's high-level ambition. It is not for nothing that Paul Bracq designed the BMW 7-series with the dimensions of the extended E3 as a starting point. The engines were also taken over from the predecessor. Yet the E23 became a different car in many ways. The body design was more voluptuous and voluminous, and a significant amount of comfort was added to the handling. Furthermore, the Sharknose was a clear design feature that gave the BMW 7-Series its own face. This also applied to the dashboard, which, as with the other XNUMXs newcomers from Bavaria, was functionally designed and tailored to the driver.

Carburation engines and 733i at debut

At the market introduction, the BMW 7-series was available as 728 and 730 (both with M30 carburetor) and the 733i, which took over the power source from the 3.3L and was fitted with an L-Jetronic injection system. The 728 managed without transistor ignition in the first few years. The 730 and 733i did have these. Also revolutionary was the check panel with many control functions, which found its way to the 730 and 733i. After the introduction - regardless of the version - the press was deeply impressed by the E23, which was initially supplied with a four-speed gearbox in all configurations as standard. A ZF automatic transmission was optionally available on the three debutants.

Modifications, new types

In 1979 it became possible to equip the E23 with ABS. And in September of that year, the 728i appeared. He succeeded the 728 and 730. The 733i was also thanked for services rendered. It was replaced by the 732i with Bosch Motronic injection system. The BMW 735i (including with five-speed gearbox and 3430 cc) and a saving version, the 725i, which was built for German government agencies and for export purposes.


In 1980, the first turbocharged E23 was shown to the public. The 745i had the 3210 cc engine with Turbocharger and was considered the absolute top model of BMW at that time. In addition, the Bavarians also toyed with the idea of ​​developing a V12 engine for the E23 in those years, but due to the second oil crisis, among other things, that idea never made it to the E23 in concrete form. Furthermore, BMW never placed an eight-cylinder in the large engine compartment of the first-generation BMW 7-Series.

Facelift and further modernization

The E1983 received some modifications for model year 23. In terms of cosmetics, BMW stripped the 7 series of a clear style characteristic. The finely stylized shark nose made way for the robust and straight-lined new nose. All versions now have a five-bin standard. Little changed in motor terms, except that the blown 745i was now based on the 3430 cc power source from the 735i. Furthermore, BMW mounted a catalytic converter from 1984 – on the 735i. In the beginning only in combination with an automatic gearbox, later also with a manual gearbox.

BMW top position anchored

In 1986 the E23 disappeared to make way for the new E32. But the first BMW 7-Series had turned predecessor E3's pioneering work on BMW's return to the Upper Class into a permanent residence within the Upper Class. It was an extraordinarily well-constructed car. He managed to translate the balance between volume, driving dynamics and comfort at a high level into a desirable status. Even today, the 7-Series – as we experienced for a week a while ago – is still a truly sublime driving car, which was built a total of 333.093 times. The 725i was the least produced with 923 units. The 728i was the most sought-after version with 62.908 units sold, closely followed by the 735i, which was ordered 60.746 times.

In Auto Motor Klassiek from June 2017 is the report we made with the BMW 728 from 1979.

Read also:
- Subscribe to AMK now and pay €27 less
- Driving the BMW 728 (E23). An impressive experience.
- Cars that turn 40 years old in 2017. A selection.
- BMW 518 E28. Modest and very beautiful Fünfer
- BMW 2800 CS. From four to six cylinders


Give a reaction
  1. Worked in '87 at a BMW dealer, and 1 customer with a 745i(turbo) wanted to know if the new 750i(V12) was faster. For him then reason to… Unfortunately for my boss: the V12 was limited and the old turbo accelerated with nose length faster and at the top the V12 was missing.

  2. Still a nice car.

    Dutch government officials also drove the 725. The drivers were not happy with it, much too slow. Around 1985 I was working at a Renault dealer, a few of those drivers came to test drive the then new 25 Turbo; they were right about. Not their bosses, thought the 25 too frivolous.

  3. At the slightest scratch, dent or whatever on those large flat sides, it was said here
    “It aged like milk”. Some cars can get dirty without immediately looking shabby, the first 7 is such a car. The car drove fine, but was like all BMWs except the E28,
    “Maintenance sensitive”. You had to be really good in your slack laundry to keep this moving..
    You never see them again. The E32 in the later versions are still common on the road here.
    The E32 has had so many recalls from the factory that the space on the doorposts is completely plastered
    were with the recall stickers. They were well protected against rust, we never had any problems with that. imho the last real beautiful and very well built BMW is the E46 Cabriolet. Hassle free, all E-46`s from day one.

  4. Then civilized beaver teeth.
    These BMWs were the most beautiful period in terms of design. Still timeless and modern in lines.

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