12 Oct Bond on a Budget: The BMW 750iL
One of my all-time favorite Bond cars is the BMW 750iL, which plays a major part in the 1997 Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies”. I think part of the reason it’s one of my favorites is because he drives the car with his cell phone. I always loved how understated the looks of the 7-Series were in the 1990s. I thought it made a great Bond car because and the list of included gadgets were pretty neat too. After the disappointing appearance of the Z3 in “Goldeneye” two years earlier, the 750iL really got some screen time. I also liked the idea that he could pick it up at the Avis counter and then return it by driving it off the parking garage into the front window of the Avis office. Of course Q was running the counter when he picked it up. Add all of this to the fact that 20 years later you can actually move your car without being in it using your cell phone. I’ve always wanted to own a 750iL and not just because of Bond. The long wheelbase and the luxurious interior were always a draw along with the V12 under the hood which to me was the engine from an exotic sports car. I can remember telling people I liked this car and they kept saying “why”? After awhile I realized that if I have to spend so much time explaining it that they just don’t get it. I mean the McLaren F1 used a BMW v12 around this same time and it was the fastest production of the day. In the 750iL application the v12 produces 322 hp which isn’t much by today’s standards.
Internally BMW referred to the body style from 1994 to 2001 as the E38. What many people don’t know is that a long list of the luxury and safety features we enjoy today were first seen on the E38 7-Series. In fact it was the first European car to offer satellite navigation. It was also the first car to feature curtain airbags as well. I can’t imagine having a car with navigation in 1994.
So let’s say you want to think about getting one of these. Well, the good news is they are relatively affordable compared to their original price. I should also mention you will have much better luck finding a 740i or 740iL because they are much more common than the 750iL. The 740s have V8 engines as opposed to v12. However, the V8s aren’t as reliable thanks to their timing chain. From the research I’ve done the V12 cars seem to be fairly reliable they just cost a lot to maintain and repair and I mean a lot. Just keep in mind you are looking at a 20 year old BMW with lots of tech that is now pretty out of date too. Because of the age and maintenance costs you can pick one up for less than $10,000 no matter the mileage. By the way several of the few that are available did have less than 100,000 miles on them. The bottom line to me is that even with the maintenance costs you could justify having your very own Bond car thanks to the very low purchase price. I have always thought this was the best looking 7-Series they ever made, which is funny because the body style that followed this in 2002 is probably the most hated.
BMW also made a special version of the 740iL and the 750iL known as the Protection. These had bulletproof glass and a whole host of features in case you were attacked. In my opinion the ultimate Bond version would be a 750iL Protection. I’ve shared this video from BMW that was originally used to help market the Protection versions.
I was able to see one of the BMW 750iLs used in “Tomorrow Never Dies” at the “Bond in Motion” exhibit at the London Film Museum. You can see it too by watching that episode right here.
Photos/Video Courtesy: BMW/EON Productions/United Artists/Phil’s Morning Drive