1999-2001 E38 BMW 740i M Sport: The ‘Sporty Shorty’ Still Turns Heads

E38 BMW 740i M Sport article highlights:

  • The 1999-2001 BMW 740i M Sport brings sportier suspension, final drive and transmission upgrades, and some subtle style changes to the E38 7 Series
  • Although the E38 is a fine near-classic luxury sports sedan, the ‘Sporty Shorty’ 740i M Sport is appreciably quicker and handles even better
  • You can buy one of these cars for $10,000-$20,000 today, but watch out for electrical gremlins and deferred maintenance

Today, luxury cars often prioritize technology as much as they do build quality and comfort. And the current BMW 7 Series is no exception. Sure, it has a fancy interior, but it also has a plethora of gadgets. But while it’s mostly escaped the brand’s recent styling, uh, choices, the 7 Series has also mostly abandoned its sportiness. Hence why a significant number of BMW fans cherish its predecessors so. And the model they hold in particularly high regard is the 1999-2001 E38 BMW 740i M Sport.

The 1999-2001 740i M Sport made the E38 BMW an even better luxury sports sedan

A gray 2000 E38 BMW 740i M Sport in a city parking garage
2000 E38 BMW 740i M Sport | Cars & Bids
1999-2001 E38 BMW 740i M Sport
Engine4.4-liter ‘M62TUB44’ V8
Horsepower282 hp
Torque324 lb-ft
TransmissionFive-speed automatic
Curb weight4255 lbs
0-60 mph time5.9 seconds

To this day, BMW has never made a full-on M version of the 7 Series. A few Alpina models, like the B7, have gotten close to that hypothetical level of performance. But because the 7 Series image doesn’t really vibe with the whole motorsport thing, a ‘real’ M7 would be oxymoronic. However, that hasn’t stopped BMW from offering some M Sport upgrades from time to time. And the 1999-2001 BMW 740i M Sport was the first 7 Series to get it.

The 1999-2001 740i M Sport, aka the 740i Sport, is just as powerful as the standard E38-gen 740i. However, its five-speed automatic has an upgraded torque converter and sequential-shift functionality, MotorTrend reports. In addition, the standard limited-slip differential has a lower axle ratio. Combined with the 4.4-liter M62 V8’s torque boost for 1999, the 740i M Sport hits 60 mph 2.1 seconds faster than the first-year 740i.

But BMW—or rather, M—didn’t stop there. The E38 BMW 740i M Sport has genuine M-touched suspension, with an 0.8” lower ride height, stiffer springs, firmer shocks, and a bigger rear anti-roll bar. Also, it rides on 18” ‘M Parallel Spoke’ wheels wrapped in grippier Michelin tires and has an M Sport steering wheel.

BMW didn’t forget the 7 Series’ luxury status when it designed the 740i M Sport, though. For example, the sedan might have front sports seats, but they’re also power-adjustable. In addition, besides extra blacked-out exterior trim, the 740i Sport has exclusive redwood interior trim. Plus, like any other E38, it was available with factory navigation, stability control, traction control, dual-zone automatic climate control, and even TVs for the rear passengers.

The ‘Sporty Shorty’ still exudes style, speed, comfort, and fun

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BMW offered the M Sport package on both short- and long-wheelbase E38 740i models. Enthusiasts, though, prefer the former, often dubbed the ‘Sporty Shorty.’ And driving it quickly demonstrates why these sedans are placed on high pillars today.

Although the 2022 BMW 7 Series is a solid luxury car, its driving experience is “underwhelming,” MT says. Simply put, it’s “not a sports sedan,” MT adds. And while its grille isn’t that gaping, its styling isn’t the subtlest on the market.

In comparison, BMW fans consider the E38 7 Series the apogee of the nameplate’s sportiness. This is a comfortable highway cruiser that’s small and agile enough to turn off the freeway to take care of some corner-carving business. With communicative and well-weighted hydraulic steering, that standard LSD, and supple but not sloppy suspension, all E38s are genuine sports cars. And both their exteriors and interiors are stylishly simple.

The 1999-2001 BMW 740i M Sport, though, is all that and more. Yes, the M Sport suspension tweaks give it a noticeably firmer ride, MT reports. But the tradeoff is handling that goes from ‘satisfying’ to ‘sensational.’ The 740i M Sport corners flatter, grips better, and accelerates harder than the regular 740i. And thanks to those comfortable, well-bolstered seats, you can push the sedan further without fear of sliding around.

It’s not quite the car James Bond drove in Tomorrow Never Dies, but the Sporty Shorty still feels debonair.

How much is a 1999-2001 E38 BMW 740i M Sport?

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In 2000, an E38 BMW 740i M Sport started at $64.2K, MT reports; that’s the modern equivalent of $107,800. That makes it more expensive, comparatively than a 2022 750i xDrive. Fortunately for cash-strapped shoppers, depreciation has made the Sporty Shorty significantly more affordable. You can usually find solid examples on sites like Cars & Bids in the $10,000-$20,000 range.

If you are interested in buying one, know that these are near-classic used BMWs. So, a pre-purchase inspection is strongly recommended, especially since E38 electronics don’t always age well. Also, poorly-maintained M62 V8s can have oil consumption problems, rough idling, and/or radiator issues. And they often develop valve cover gasket, VANOS, and timing chain guide issues as they age. However, these problems are fixable with modern replacement parts.

Regardless, if you want a truly sporty 7 Series, give the E38 740i M Sport a whirl—the Sporty Shorty still has some moves.

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