BMW hasn't offered a manual in their U.S.-bound 7-series for years. That wasn't always the case, and in fact today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe 733i comes from an era when the big Bimmer still let you row your own. Will it's price however, make you reject it automatically?
Consider the luxury cars of yore. No, I don't means your gramps' Lincoln Town Car, I mean the rolling mansions from the teens and twenties of the last century. Those proved that elegance and ostentation could seamlessly go hand in hand.
One of the common elements of such cars was the separation - both implied and actual - between the owner/passengers and the driver. This was accomplished through the division of the driver's area, typically spare and open to the elements, and the passenger compartment which was usually enclosed and opulently furnished. So great was the desired class schism that frequently a tubular conduit or wired phone was required between them so that the driver might receive instruction from their betters in the most non-directly interactive method possible.
Today, the whole concept of luxury has changed and while there still exist chauffeured livery and private cars that separate the classes, that seems the exception for the hoity toity rather than the rule, and in fact the Maybach brand, specifically intended to capture that market, proved an unmitigated failure for Mercedes Benz.
In the present day, driving your own car is not seen as evidence of a plebeian existence, and in fact the most expensive cars today are those intended to be owner-enjoyed and piloted. Of course when it comes to the kinds of luxury cars that are intended to be engaging in both the front and back seats it seems that much of the sportiness gets washed away in the waves of rich Connolly hides, book-matched exotic woods, and seats that provide individual climate control to each cheek of your ass. Hell, in the U.S. it's hard to find a big luxury sedan these days that will even give you the satisfaction of rowing your own gears.
Perhaps that is what makes this 1984 BMW E23 733i so intriguing, as it has most all of the accouterments of traditional luxury checked off - power everything, leather and wood, traditional and timeless styling, and yet it also backs its 3,210-cc 181-horse M30 with a Getrag 5-speed.
The E23 was the first in BMW's line of range-topping four doors to be badged the 7 and while it did offer a compelling mix of luxury and, at least implied sportiness, it was at the time a cheaper, and poorer competitor to Mercedes Benz's W126 S Class. Alas, we come here not to bury this 733i in the morass of its supposedly more desirable Swabian counterpart, but to praise it for its current presence and bringing some manual action to those of us who appreciate such features in our big cars.
The Bimmer Forum posting offering the car notes that it has about 110,000 on the clock. That's an estimate as the odo apparently broke at 106, as such things always tend to do. The seller says that in addition to the, there are also a back window, temp gauge, Speedo (perhaps related to the dormant odo), spongebob square brakes, and some HVAC issues that will require attending. Oh, and he says that it presently lacks a muffler and so it sounds like a RACECAR. I would aver that it sounds like it needs a new muffler and probably your neighbors and the cops will agree.
What's really amazing about this old 7 isn't what's presently broken, but everything that still does work. The sunroof and remaining three windows apparently do their jobs, and the drivetrain is said to work without issue.
As far as appearance goes, this is one tidy ride. You'd expect far more wear and tear out of that interior owing to its age, but aside from a cup ring on the console and some cracks in the dash, it's all complete and very serviceable. Plus, there's that 5-speed stick that I know you're just itching to row. Oh, and no, I don't know where that knob in the hand brake well originated.
The outside is just as clean, showing just a few small boogers in the paint and some crazing in the bumper rubbers. According to the ad, it's now rolling on Bottle Caps as the fancy pants 17' alloys in most of the shots have already been sold. Something else that looks good on the car is its clean California title.
BMW's current Gran Coupe is literally a four-door version of the marque's 6-series. If you carefully consider the lines of the E23 you will see that it played the same roll to that generation's 6 coupe too. Despite that history, and this car's apparent decent condition, it seems that its owner is having a hard time moving this sweet old Bimmer. He has had to drop his asking a couple of times to where it now sits, which is at $2,300.
What is your take on this mad mix of luxury and engagement - a car that cossets and yet still lets you interact with it - for $2,300? Is that a killer deal, or will its price ensure that it remains with the haves, and not the have nots?
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