For BMW, the 7 Series represents their flagship luxury sedan. The 2020 BMW 7 Series just made its debut, so we wanted to take a look back at all the previous generations of the BMW 7 Series to see how the car has evolved over the years.
The first generation of the BMW 7 Series was introduced back in 1977. Back then, BMW did not offer so many large cars as they do now. The 7 Series was by far their biggest here in the US. It featured a plethora of different BMW inline six-cylinder engines. The range went from a smaller 2.5-liter I-6 up to the famous 3.5-liter M88 I-6. The 7 Series, being a rival to the ever-advanced Mercedes S-Class, had to bring some impressive tech to the table. One such technology included ABS brakes, which eventually became standard equipment on the E23.
With the second generation came more technology, and more cylinders, plus slightly updated styling and multiple wheelbases. The base engine remained a straight-6. However, BMW also offered the E32 7 Series with a 3.0-liter and 4.0-liter V8 and a 5.0-liter V12. That V12 was only available with the long wheel base version of the 7 Series. Though, the V8s could be had in both short and long wheel base versions. Max power output rose to 300 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque with the V12 engine.
Upgraded tech offerings now included traction and stability control. Not crazy high-tech by today’s standards. But, for 1987? Pretty futuristic. Oh, and you still got an in-car cell phone.
This generation is, for many (including our own Nathan Adlen), the pinnacle of the 7 Series. BMW updated the styling once again, but kept a lot of the things that we loved about the old one. You still had the choice of a V8 or V12. You still had short and long wheel bases. However, the looks got even more refined. Plus there was something called the L7, which was essentially a limousine with an even longer wheelbase. Though estimates say roughly 800 of those made it to the US.
All of the above would result in this becoming the best-selling 7 Series thus far. Even though it had to compete with the recently released Lexus ES and the Audi A8.
This is where things started to get, well, a little round. BMW updated the 7 Series with the ‘flame surfacing’ design language, much like the 5 Series. Though, we did get a 4.4L V8 and a 6.0L V12. That 6.0L V12 was the first of its kind to use direct-injection, by the way. Power topped out at 439 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. Or, if you bought the Alpina B7 (which was sold through BMW dealerships) that 4.4L V8 got a supercharger and made 500 horsepower.
F01 (2008 – 2015)
BMW toned down the ‘flame surfacing’ with this generation. Though, the overall design is still rather curvaceous. This generation made notable use of turbocharging throughout much of the range. A turbo I6, turbo V8, turbo V12 and turbo 4-cylinder hybrid were all available here in the US. Heck, we even got a turbo diesel for the first time in the US in the 7 Series. Oh, and x-Drive finally found its way to the BMW 7 Series with this generation.
The sixth generation 7 Series was the first to be built on BMW’s modular platform architecture, OKL (Oberklasse, German for Luxury Class). Again, some slight styling updates gave the 7 Series a new face. However, powertrains remained fairly similar. Again, you have a 6-cylinder turbo, twin-turbo V8, twin-turbo V12 and a 4-cylinder turbo hybrid. However, the hybrid was made available in both wheelbase configurations.
2020 BMW 7 Series
The BMW 7 Series has had quite the lifespan here in the US. From its 6-cylinder beginnings all the way up to the turbocharged V12 technological monster it is today. We really want to know which 7 Series was your favorite! Drop us a comment down below and tell us which one you like best and why it is your favorite BMW 7 Series. If it were my choice, the E38 had the perfect combination of looks, power, and tech.
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While you contemplate your answer, you can also check out our video on the latest BMW 7 Series below: