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The BMW 7-Series has long been the flagship of the BMW lineup when it comes to luxury. It could throw hands with the likes of Mercedes easily. In addition, though, the 7-series lineup of luxury features often crossed paths with the likes of Bentley and Rolls Royce (the latter, of course, having a lot to do with the fact that BMW has owned Rolls Royce since 2003). With all of that said, you don’t expect to see many budget cuts for the sake of a base-model BMW 7-Series. That’s why this E38 730i is a bit surprising.

Cloth seats and a manual transmission in a 7-Series seems illegal

1994 BMW 730i E38 7 series Base Model interior showing manual transmission shift knob, base model stereo, and steering wheel with gray cloth seats
730i Interior | Cars and Bids

In a recent episode of The Smoking Tire Podcast with Matt Farah, Doug DeMuro brought this hilariously counterintuitive E38 7-Series to light. It sold on his auction website, Cars and Bids.

If you’re familiar with the E38 BMW 7-Series, you are likely only familiar with the 740i and 750i/iL models we have here in the States. However, in Europe, there was a lowly base model known as the 730i. This particular 1994 model made its way to the U.S. from Spain and features something many E38 enthusiasts in the U.S. can only dream of having: a manual transmission. Better still is the fact that it’s mated to a V8 engine. Unlike the 740i that we have here in the U.S., though, it’s a punitive little 3.0-liter lump that makes 215 horsepower.

1994 BMW 730i E38 7 series Base Model 3.0-liter V8 engine
BMW 3.0L V8 | Cars and Bids

We’ve discussed the flagship E38 750il and how much of a dog even the V12 powerplant is on our YouTube channel in the past. So, we can only imagine how slow this monstrosity is without that extra 110 horsepower. Still, perhaps the wildest part of this particular example is the fact that it’s equipped with cloth seats.

Interior fit for a king of a very small country you’ve never heard of

Of course, car enthusiasts like you and me see that manual transmission as a perk. However, it’s really there because this is a base model. Let us not forget that manual transmission is often referred to as a “standard” transmission for a reason. Having an automatic was, at one point, a paid-for privilege for some reason.

Looking at the rest of the interior is the remaining giveaway that, it’s the bottom-of-the-barrel E38 option. The remarkably bland gray cloth seats are highlighted by equally bland gray carpets, droopy carpeted door panels, and a remarkably basic stereo and climate stack in the center of the dash. It truly looks more like a ‘90s Ford Taurus in there than it looks like a BMW.

1994 BMW 730i E38 7 series Base Model photographed on top of a parking garage in downtown Chicago Illinois
1993 BMW 730i | Cars and Bids

All of this goofiness and uniqueness came in at a final price of $10,069. In my opinion, that seems a little up there, considering it’s got 133,400 miles on it. Then again, I’m not exactly interested in buying a car like this for the quirkiness of it.

The 725tds, the turbodiesel variant of the E38 7-Series with a manual transmission, though, I could easily see justifying that price. At the end of the day, this is all just further proof that the U.S. missed out on all the fun and goofy models since all we want is displacement. It’s a crying shame, really.


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