BMW 7-Series: What If The Next Gen Was Inspired By The E38?

BMW’s 7 Series is an interesting kettle of fish. The pinnacle of luxury driving machines recently underwent a thorough mid-life facelift, resulting in one seriously polarizing front end. Some are frightened that its huge kidney grille has the propensity to feed on krill, small animals and children, whilst others love its bold, imposing presence.

As the Munich-based manufacturer’s flagship sedan, the rationale was the need for it to stand out above the rest of the range. Differentiation between the 5 and 7 Series had been lacking recently, so hence the opinion-splitting new front end. Fortunately, BMW has assured us this approach won’t spread to the rest of their lineup.

Also Read: How BMW’s 7-Series Face Evolved From Glorious Great White To Obnoxious Whale Shark

However, this begs the question; what if in a parallel universe BMW went down an alternative, more conservative route for the 7 Series?

One faces the future with one’s past

To answer this I’ve illustratively tapped into BMW’s glory days and one rockstar car in particular – the third generation E38 7 Series. Styled by Boyke Boyer and produced between 1994 and 2001, it’s considered by many gearheads as BMW’s best-looking (and handling too) large sedan. Its timeless shape even appeared in such films as The Transporter and the James Bond feature film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

Photo Renderings Copyright Carscoops / Josh Byrnes

The E38 theme applied in this redesign study can be found in many areas including it’s elegant, squared-off bodywork, lowered cowl, mid-body creases, protruding bumpers, prominent fenders, and normal-sized twin-kidney grille.

Elements of the current 7 Series are still retained with angular double halo LED lighting, chrome front fender embellishments, and a sleek roofline. Other details added to the visual mix include Aston Martin-like retractable door handles, rectangular rear led lighting and blacked-out sections of the a-pillars.

Pondering about the interior and specs

Whilst not illustrated here, we would imagine an interior that ditches the garish silver trim around the air vents, and exudes more driver-focused BMW principles of old. A wraparound center stack and sporty driving position would make a comeback, featuring cutting edge infotainment technology and semi-autonomous driver assists.

It wouldn’t be a 7’er without powerful inline-six, V8 and V12 options. The latter unit is rumored to disappear from BMW’s powertrain catalog in 2023. However, we’d love to see it return with some form of hybridisation; massive amounts of power and torque being pumped through a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system? Yes, please!

Speaking of torque, full electrification would be a modern twist on a classic nameplate – a Tesla Model S competitor featuring solid-state batteries and a 600-mile plus range perhaps? This type of battery technology is still in development and a few years off from becoming commercially viable, however, the premise is there. Such a version of the 7 Series would also have an internal battle against the upcoming i7 – a full-size sedan BEV competitor to Mercedes-Benz’s EQS, nevertheless, it’s great to have variety.

Related Story: BMW 7-Series Facelift vs. Audi A8 vs. Mercedes S-Class

Finally, what are your thoughts on this design study – should BMW to go back its more conservative ways with the 7 Series?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • donald seymour

    Usually it’s a yes, but this is definitely a solid no.

  • chris

    they really need to look at their past and take notes

  • Bob

    Could have maybe worked if some of the litheness of the E38 came through in this. It has the whale-like chunkiness of the latest 7ers.

  • FordMopar

    I was a teenager in the 90s and these were awesome to see. Yes definitely need to incorporate some of the looks to next generation. The 3 and 5 series should try have some kind of shark nose look to it. All current BMW styling is ho hum. Meh.

    • Finkployd

      Maybe the current ones seem less impressive and out of reach to you because you’re not a teenager anymore?

      • FordMopar

        Im just saying the heydays were during my teens years, it’s still fresh in my mind. To see from that to these current models are just awful. Different head designers over the years that’ll do these cars!

  • Ilbirs

    The E38 had something that is missing in the current Bimmers: that imposing stance, as if it was nonverbally telling that is a car for filthy rich people.

    • donald seymour

      Oh my gosh, you absolutely nailed it with your comment.

  • MIL1234

    sorry no more flat 7
    safe potatoes instead

  • I SAW THE UPDATED 7 THE OTHER DAY.
    EGAD, SAD HOW FAR BMW STYLING HAS FALLEN.

  • iggination

    I don’t trust BMW enough to think they would plan such a move.

  • Kyle Lyles

    Still loving my 2000 740iL with 105,000 miles. I’m complimented about it several times each week. BMW finally lost my interest with their latest generations of bloat. They remind me of those fugly Mercs.

  • I have owned 5 BMW 7 series since 1999, all but one being an E38. My latest 2001 740i bought from Japan 2 years ago with 6k miles on the clock. The e38 is the best car ever produced by BMW in the luxury saloon class. I have returned an F10 as unfit for purpose, and have tested out most BMW cars produced since 2001 and am not impressed. A new 7 series based on the E38 with the same build quality would allow me to buy a new 7 series for a change. It’s a great idea. For a long time it seems that BMW wanted the 7 series to die. This idea may just save it.

  • JW

    Love the idea! Had a blast with my E38 and would consider going big again if they did.

  • I think I just creamed a little. That would be just amazing. And your right the E38 was the last great one.

  • Bobby

    The E38 was the best 7 BMW ever made. I owned a 1995 model. Unfortunately it caught alite and now I drive an e65 750i. The E38 more superior in road holding cornering at high speed and comfort. If I have to buy another car it will definitely not be a BM unless like mentioned in the article BMW is going to base it somewhat to the E38. E38 THE BEST

  • TrevP

    E65 for the win! IMO

  • KAG25

    You made me sad, those old 7 series are still great looking. If they could make the new ones look that good on the outside instead of cartoon versions of a BMW that would be a hit.

  • Navigator Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ🍑

    The BMW 7-series code name E38 has been the ugliest BMW 7-series I can remember with its bar-soap-like-body; the BMW 7-series E65 was a much more better looking, and gradually improved luxury sedan made by BMW during its time.

  • Alpina

    A big fat YES, this looks much better than any generation of 7 so far (excluding E38 which for me is the best looking 7 ever *eat your hearts out E65 trolls*).

  • Maisch

    Sad it won’t ever happen. The Chinese want it brash, big grill and flashy looks to signal to the people around them that they are filthy rich. And hence the design will follow the money..

  • exeptor

    It is a big fat mess with total lack of harmony. I’m not able to do it better in any way but this is a huge NO in my book.

  • slither16

    The rendering is bad, no modern car can ever be made look to like the E38, it’s gone so just get over it already.

  • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

    So, so, so, SO much better.

  • atomicbri

    Ugh I miss clean design lines of BMW of yore. Current design language will not have a timeless look like the E38, E32, etc. The new grille is just awful and I’ve seen it in person and it doesn’t look good at all.

  • Brian Kidd

    The drawing is nice, but ya gotta get that hood height down in front at a gentle angle. It makes it look like most sedans these days—a brick.

  • Jay_Sam

    Apart from the front headlight unit which seems unfinished the rest of the vehicle looks pretty in retro-modern way.

  • Porkopolis

    Pedestrians be damned! We need a return to better hood-height-to-wheel proportions.

  • Hot Twink
  • B.Stokes

    I still have my 2001 E38 740iL sports package. TV’S in the back still work with the factory headphones and the Nokia wireless phone still works via AT&T. They’ve been trying to kick me out because I’m like the last customer on the old historic wireless network.

  • Ron

    Much, much better!

  • Bash

    That would be very nice. And hopefully will drag back MB to its roots and to create something like the legendary W140.

  • bd0007

    The render (a modern take on the E38) looks so much better than the current 7 Series.

    That being said, despite all the criticism that has gone BMW’s way w/ regard to its designs, Mercedes is actually more deserving (the designs of the C, E and S Class are bland, bordering on ugly).

  • Knotmyrealname

    Moving forward, this won’t happen because what we are seeing now is a dominant influence for bad design from Countries with ‘new money’. The designs of BMWs past are (mostly) tasteful because these countries weren’t an influencing factor.

  • Slava Abramov

    I would love to see this happening.
    E38- the best looking 7th series ever!

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