E38 Overview

Hopefully you enjoy our overview and conclude that we have a passion for, and a decent-enough understanding, of the E38 cars.

Models

If you own a US model E38 7-series, it’s one of the three below.

– 740i
– 740iL
– 750iL

The “L” means “long wheelbase” as in the rear door (and everything implied) is longer, for more legroom in the back.

We also have an article about the E38 …
Armored models
Production codes

Engines

But, even that’s just one perspective. From another perspective, there are three ways of breaking down the 740i and 740iL (all of which are V8). Engines offered:

– The M60B40 is a 4.0 liter, informally considered the best motor by many because the timing chains are so unlikely to break, and there are no timing chain guides to break.
– The M62B44 is a 4.4 liter, without the VANOS system.
– The M62TUB44 (TU=Technical Update) is a feature upgrade on the M62B44, with variable valve timing (which BMW calls VANOS).

Officially starting in 1999, the 740i and 740iL models changed from the M62B44 to the M62TUB44. However, some sources indicate that the change occurred part-way through 1998. This can make for a confusing parts-buying experience especially for cylinder head parts because many parts fit only one of these variations and not the other.

In the 750iL, engines offered:

– The M73B54 is a 5.4 liter, also used in the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. This motor does not have the VANOS system.
– The M73TUB54 (TU=Technical Update) is a feature upgrade on the M73B44, with variable valve timing (which BMW calls VANOS).

As to VANOS: as the years go by, many owners are becoming ever more wary as to the guides snapping off and the timing chain falling off. Rumor has it that this event is dramatic and damages major engine components to where correcting the problem is not economically viable.

A set of functional and cosmetic changes accompanied the Technical Update. Anything made from then on is informally called “facelift.”

Transmissions

The US models all came with ZF automatic five-speed transmissions.  The early 740i and 740iL models, as well as all the 750iL models, had the 5HP-30 — generally considered indestructible, and also able to handle high torque. This basic transmission was also used by Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

Part-way through 1998, the 740i and 740iL models started using the 5HP-24, a lighter and refined variation of the 5HP-30. We like this transmission and we specialize in selling and rebuilding it, but is known to blow out the “A” clutch drum after 15 years or so, due to the hydraulic pressure regulator in the valve body having worn out to where it allows a pressure spike through.

Parts

We research which parts are used on which vehicles. So you might, for example, own an ultra-rare 750iL and you need a part, and we know that this part was also used on the more-common 740il and we might even have one in stock.  Our knowledge of parts compatibility ensures you can more-viably keep your rare vehicle on the road.

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