BMW 7 Series (E23)

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BMW 7-Series (E23)
Bmw e23 Park.jpg
Manufacturer BMW
Production 1977–1987
285,029 built[1]
Designer Paul Bracq
Manfred Rennen (1974)
Body and chassis
Class Full-size luxury car (F)
Body style 4-door sedan/saloon
Layout FR layout
Engine 2.5 - 3.2 L M30 6-cyl
3.5 L M90 6-cyl
3.5 L M88/3 6-cyl
3.2 L M102 6-cyl turbo
3.4 L M106 6-cyl turbo
Transmission 4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,795 mm (110.0 in)[2]
Length 4,860 mm (191.3 in)[2]
5,014 mm (197 in) (US bumpers)
Width 1,800 mm (70.9 in)[2]
Height 1,430 mm (56.3 in)[2]
Curb weight 1,470–1,629 kg (3,241–3,591 lb)
Predecessor BMW E3
Successor BMW E32

The BMW E23 is the first generation of the BMW 7 Series luxury cars, and was produced from 1977 to 1987. It was built in a 4-door sedan body style with 6-cylinder engines, to replacing the BMW E3 sedans. From 1983 to 1986, a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine was available.

In 1986, the E23 was replaced by the E32 7 Series, however the E23 models (called L7) remained on sale in the USA until 1987.

The E23 introduced many electronic features for the first time in a BMW, including an on-board computer, service interval indicator, a "check control panel" (warning lights to indicate system faults to the driver), a dictaphone and complex climate control systems.[3][4] It was also the first BMW to offer an anti-lock braking system (ABS),[5][6] a driver's airbag[7][8] and a new design of front suspension.[9]


All models were powered by a straight-six petrol engine, with the majority of cars using the M30 engine. Most E23 engines were fuel-injected, however the 728 and 730 models of 1978-1979 used a Solex four-barrel carburetor. The fuel-injected models initially used the Bosch L-Jectronic system, until the 1979 732i, which was the first BMW to use the Bosch Motronic fuel-injection system.[10]

Interior features[edit]

Options included leather upholstery, wood trim, power seats, seat heaters, reclining rear seats, power windows, power mirrors, an in-car cellular telephone and rear-armrest radio controls.[8][7]

Running changes[edit]

The 1983 model year facelift (produced from September 1982) included styling changes to the front of the car: the 'kidney' grilles, valance/spoiler, bumper bars, etc. Inside the car, the dashboard and instrument panels were also updated. The rear suspension was updated and the 735i engine changed from the M90 to the M30B34.

In the US, 1984 saw the arrival of the optional 4-speed automatic transmission (replacing the 3-speed unit previously offered), wood trim replacing the plastic above the glove compartment and on the ashtray and electrically adjustable power seats. Michelin TRX tyres (requiring special metric wheels) became available as an option on the 5-speed manual models.

Notable versions[edit]

Turbocharged 745i[edit]

745i rear

The 745i was a high-performance model sold in left-hand-drive European markets from 1979-1986. It was initially powered by the M102 engine, which is a turbocharged 3.2 L version of the M30 straight-six engine, producing 188 kW (252 hp) at 9 PSI of boost.[11] In 1982, the engine was upgraded to the M106, which increased the capacity to 3.4 litres and the fuel injection system changed from Jetronic to Motronic. Boost pressure was reduced to 6 PSI,[12] however power output was unchanged.

All cars were built with a 3-speed ZF 3HP22 automatic transmission.[12][13] Options included heated front and rear power reclining seats, gasoline fired heater, leather covered cellular telephone, rear-armrest radio control, water buffalo hide upholstery, and burl wood trim.

The name 745i comes from the theoretical assumption that turbocharged engine have approximately 1.4 times more power than naturally aspirated engines. By this assumption, a 3.2 litre (3205cc) turbocharged engine would have similar power to a 4.5 litre (4487cc) naturally aspirated engine.

South African 745i[edit]

The South African 745i model was powered by the naturally aspirated M88/3 engine, instead of the turbocharged M102/M106 engines of the European 745i. A right-hand-drive version of the turbocharged model was not possible due to the turbocharger being located in the right-hand side of engine bay. Instead, the 745i was fitted with the 213 kW (286 hp) M88/3 engine, as used in the E24 M635i and E28 M5. The engine uses a 24-valve DOHC valvetrain and the fuel injection system is Bosch ML-Jetronic.

A production run of 209 South African 745i was built from 1983 to 1987, 192 of which were with an automatic gearbox and 17 with a 5-speed manual gearbox.[14]

BMW South Africa entered one of these 745i models in Class A of the South African Modified Saloon Car Championship,[citation needed] the only BMW-Sanctioned motor sport application in the history of BMW 7-series cars.

USA and Japanese market models[edit]

1984 BMW 733i with USA bumpers

Only the 733i, 735i, and L7 models were sold in the USA and Japan.[15] These markets also received only upscale versions, usually including leather upholstery, cruise control, wood trim, power windows, power sunroof, and other options as standard.

North American versions were fitted with larger bumpers (to comply with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards), smaller sealed beam headlights, and various forms of emissions equipment that were not found on European-market cars. The engines used in these markets had lower-compression pistons and thus were less powerful than European-market versions. Some features such as ABS were available in markets outside North America before they were fitted on American models.

The L7 was a more luxurious version of the 735i for the American market only.[16] It featured special leather upholstery with leather dashboard and door padding (rather than wood trim), a power glass Moonroof. and a variety of optional features as standard. All L7 models were built with automatic transmissions and a standard driver's air bag.

Special uses[edit]

In 1982, the American Robert Cumberford built the Cumberford Martinique, an open two-seater with engine and transmission from a BMW 733i, and steering and suspension from the Citroën CX.[17] Pricing was 60% higher than its closest competitor, from Clénet Coachworks, and only two cars were built.[18] Both still exist, one in France and one in San Diego.[19]


BMW 728i
1985 BMW 735i (Australia). Note the wider and more angular twin-port grille compared to the 1977–1983 cars.

The following models were produced in this series: [1][20][21]

Model Engine code Power Torque Years
PS kW hp at rpm N·m ft·lbf at rpm
725i‡ M30B25 150 110 148 5,800 208 153 4,000 1979–1986
728 M30B28 170 125 168 5,800 233 172 4,000 1977–1979
728i M30B28 184 135 181 5,800 235 173 4,200 1979−1986
730 M30B30 184 135 181 5,800 255 188 3,500 1977–1979
732i M30B32 196 144 193 5,500 279 206 4,500 1979–1986
733i M30B32 197 145 194 5,500 279 206 4,300 1977–1982
735i M90 218 160 215 5,200 304 224 4,000 1979–1982
735i M30B34 218 160 215 5,200 304 224 4,000 1982–1986
745i M102 252 185 249 5,200 374 276 2,600 1980–1982
745i M106 252 185 249 4,900 374 276 2,200 1983–1986
North America and Japan
733i M30B32 179 132 177 5,500 266 196 4,000 1978–1979
733i M30B32 176 129 174 5,200 255 188 4,200 1980–1981
733i M30B32 184 135 181 6,000 264 195 4,000 1982–1984
735i/L7 M30B34 185 136 182 5,400 290 210 4,000 1985–1987
1986–1987 (L7)
South Africa
745i M88/3 286 210 282 6,500 340 250 4,500 1984–1986

Note: ‡ For government agencies and on special order only[1]


  1. ^ a b c Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, Band 4 (1. ed.). Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02131-5. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Fahrbericht: BMW 728 / 730 / 733 i". Auto, Motor und Sport. Heft. 11 1977: Seite 34–42. 25 May 1977. 
  3. ^ "The BMW E23 7-Series". Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "BMW 7 Series (E23) - 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986". Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Denton, Tom. Automobile Electrical and Electronic Systems. p. 390. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  6. ^ "History of Brakes in Motor Cars / Automobiles". Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  7. ^ a b "BMW 7 Series - A Look Back". Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "The first BMW 7 Series - E23". 9 November 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  9. ^ Taylor, James. BMW M5: The Complete Story. Crowood. ISBN 9781785000461. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  10. ^ G.Burns, John. "BMW M30 and M102 Six Cylinder Engines". Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "The BMW Six Cylinder Guide". Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  12. ^ a b "BMW 745i E23 Turbo". Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "24001208983 Rmfd automatic transmission". Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  14. ^ "FAQ E23 745i SA (M88)". Archived from the original on 19 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "BMW 7'E23 model selection". Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "The Bavarian luxobarge: A look back at the BMW 7-series". Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946–2002. Krause Publications, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8, p. 149-155.
  21. ^ Automobil Revue, catalogue edition 1987, p. 196.

External links[edit]