Remember back when the big BMWs didn't look like something Chris Bangle shat out? Well, not only is today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 740i not a bowl circler, it's also not an automatic. But does its price mean you don't give a crap?
Despite a proclivity for spontaneous combustion that implied a sense of rebellious danger, only 20% of you warmed to yesterday's 1987 Nissan Van, the rest condemning it to the Crack Pipe scrap heap. Perhaps it was the thought of having to dress in Nomex undies every time you took it out that was the deciding factor.
That van was as sedentary as a corpse, and it would take a lot of work to get it rolling again. In contrast, today's 2001 BMW 740i requires only that its new owner be its right-hand man as it's ready to rock, but is also, uniquely, a stick shift.
With the exception of girls, pretty much everything is made better by having a stick, and while these big four-doors never officially arrived here in the U.S. as row yer' own, the enterprising owner of this particular 145,000-mile E38 realized that could be easily rectified with a few turns of a wrench and probably a whole lot of cash.
He says the gearbox is out of an E39 M5, which would make it a Getrag Type D 6-speed, a transmission already set to bolt up to the M62 V8, as that's what's used in the smaller Bahn-stormer. Here, it's accompanying the 740's 282-bhp M62TUB44, which while not as potent as the M5's mill, still enjoys VANOS valve timing on the intakes, and drive by wire throttle for eking tout he most from its 4.4 litres. These engines also are the later Alusil blocks, rather than the earlier Nikasil which proved so problematic.
Sporting silver paint over a black leather interior, this E38 carries its size well. It is the shorter - if you can call 115 inches short - wheelbase, which still provides plenty of interior space if not the room for a full Bacchanalia that the iL affords. The seller says it has always been garaged, and to back up that claim, the shots for the ad were taken indoors. Talk about commitment! Making sure you'd get full enjoyment out of that stick shift conversion, it also rides on the sport suspension and spidery 18" Parallels, while inside there's sport seats, and a gearshift topped with an M-emblazoned knob.
Despite the sport, the E38 is a total Q ship, its sedate and classic styling, along with that Jason Bourne-worthy silver paint, makes sure it blends in in traffic pretty much anywhere outside of where they sell non-running Nissan Vans. Inside, it displays equal Teutonic restraint, instead of the more modern 7-series' swoops, humps and general WTF? nature.
The ad also makes the claim that the car has never been smoked in, not even fine sin semilla. It comes with new tires and current tags and there's no notation of the gearbox switcheroo doing anything funky to the OBDII.
Usually the unexpected discovery of a tranny with a stick can be a life-scaring incident, especially if it occurs the morning after. However, in the case of this big Bimmer it's a delightful surprise. And it makes for one uunique ride that's going to give your right hand something other to do than just change the radio stations and frequently scratch your flaming nuts after that earlier tranny incident. However, this 740is condition and that sweet six speed have emboldened the seller to up the ante on the asking price over what most E38s of similar vintage are bringing. That price is $6,999, and while you could potentially replicate this stick shift sedan for that, why would you when this one's already to rock your world?
So, what do you think about $6,999 for a six-speed 740i? Is that an amount that would work for you? Or, is it too much to pay for manual labor?
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