The BMW L7 Was A Weird Factory-Stretched E38 Limousine

A forgotten piece of BMW history is this peculiar E38 7-series, which was stretched from the factory

Remind me later
BMW - The BMW L7 Was A Weird Factory-Stretched E38 Limousine - Car History

Think of the weirdest 7-series ever made by BMW. You probably have the 6.7-litre V16-powered E32 ‘Goldfisch’ in mind, right? It’s a good shout, but let me present a competitor for the imaginary crown of the oddest 7er in history.

Introducing: the BMW L7. When the car was introduced in 1997, ‘L7’ wasn’t a new badge for BMW - the marque had previously used it on a more luxurious version of the E23 735i for the US market. But the E38 7-series L7 was much more special than that.

BMW - The BMW L7 Was A Weird Factory-Stretched E38 Limousine - Car History

It used the 750iL as a starting point, with the crucial difference being a 25cm stretch behind the B-pillar, which necessitated the addition of an awkward-looking little panel between the front and rear doors. But more importantly, the change brought with it extra leg room for the lucky so-and-so in the back.

He or she could make use of a fax machine (well, it was the 1990s), window blinds, folding trays, a television with a VHS player, and gasp a computer with an Internet connection. Later models also had a glass partition between the front and rear passenger compartments, should sir or madam have wished for more privacy.

BMW - The BMW L7 Was A Weird Factory-Stretched E38 Limousine - Car History

All that gear and all the extra metal between the wheels inevitably meant the L7 porked a bit of weight on, leading to an unladen weight figure of 2215kg compared to the 750iL’s 1995kg. It didn’t receive any extra power to compensate, as it was powered by exactly the same 5.4-litre ‘M73’ V12 as the iL.

Its 326bhp output would whisk the lengthened 7 to 62mph in seven seconds dead, four tenths slower than the iL. Quick enough to make good progress without you spilling the champagne you’d retrieved from the onboard fridge, in other words. The top speed meanwhile was exactly the same - an electronically-limited 155mph.

Image via Stirling7/Wikimedia Commons
Image via Stirling7/Wikimedia Commons

The L7 was pitched at “customers with the highest standards of driving comfort in every respect,” BMW said. The price was 246,000 Deutschmarks, or about £125,000. Back in the late 1990s. Understandably, cheap the L7 was not.

It was sold in Europe and parts of Asia, although a handful did make there way over to North America. 899 were built, making the L7 an incredibly rare piece of BMW history. Particularly in right-hand drive form - just 71 left the factory with their steering wheels on the right, according to the E38 Registry.

BMW - The BMW L7 Was A Weird Factory-Stretched E38 Limousine - Car History

Production ended in 2001 when the E38 was replaced with the E65, and although the long-wheelbase 7ers have grown with every subsequent generation, none have yet matched the length of the 5.4-metre L7. We’re not sure any have matched the cool-factor of this thing either.

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