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When I went in for my oil change today, there was a high end dealer in the building next door, and they had a tan/tan '99 740iL in there, and I'd never sat in one of those before today. I had thought about one before I bought my S320, but after I drove the 320, I didn't wanna try anything else. Still though, curiosity lingered and I had thought about driving one, just for shits and giggles, but never had the ambition to do so. Well lucky for me, I had 45 minutes to kill today and this one was waiting and easily accessible.

The interior was nice, but not as overly luxurious as the W140's interior. It lacked the heavy, solid feeling and a lot of the little comfort-enhancing gadgets and gizmos that the 140 has. For example, no self sealing doors or double paned glass, and the window switches are on the driver's door. Which makes it feel not as unique as the 140. The climate control and radio controls didn't look as pretty and weren't as intuitive to use, and I could not for the love of me figure out how to scroll through the trip computer's information, and the pixels in the display were all messed up, so I couldn't read the info, but I guess that's common in BMW's. Also, interesting to note that the cupholders, in both front and rear, were much smaller than the 140's, and felt rather flimsy.

The seats seemed softer, and a little more plush, and the leather was softer too, and it didn't feel stretched as tightly over the seat. The W140 has more guages, and lacks that horrible red backlighting found in all BMWs. But like the 140, build quality and attention to detail were magnificent...everything opened and shut tightly, and this one had 156k on it.

I swear to god that the E38 had more rear seat legroom than the 140 does, and the new 7 Series's have more than the new W221's do...must be a BMW
thing. And I liked how the E38s have lots of storage pockets in all the doors.

I did not get a chance to drive the vehicle, so I can't report on the performance.

So I guess to sum it up, the W140 feels more like an honest luxury car, whereas the E38 feels more businesslike and sterile.



So I've sat in a '93 LS400 and a '99 740iL, and have driven a '99 A8. All I need now is an XJ8. Out of those three, I like the A8's interior the best, but I'd probably say the 7 series is my #2 after the W140, but I might like a 98-00 LS400 a lot more than the '93.
 

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The BMW's have a double pane it's just two bits of glass laminated together like the W220 not however like the W140's glass with the space between. I like the E38 they seem like a really nice car. I think I'm going to seriously look at one for my next car in a few years.
 

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Oh no doubt they were nice cars, just not *as* nice. ;)
The nice thing though, is they made them up to 2001, so if I ever wanted to move a few years ahead and still keep the good look that only the big German cars designed in the '90s had, I could get a 2001 740iL.
 

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The BMW's have a double pane it's just two bits of glass laminated together like the W220 not however like the W140's glass with the space between. I like the E38 they seem like a really nice car. I think I'm going to seriously look at one for my next car in a few years.
Only the 750's have dual pane glass.

I had a 740iL for 6 years prior to my W140. Very nice car. The things I miss most from my E38 are the articulating backrest (top portion of backrest is adjustable separate from the bottom half), the BC Computer - tons of info here, one touch open and close of the sunroof, auto tilt away steering wheel when exiting the car, the beautifully hidden side window shades (Mercedes add-ons don't look or operate anywhere as nice), one touch operation of the rear sunshade, more rear seat legroom, steering wheel controls for radio, telephone and cruise (the Mercedes stalk is operationally fine, but awkward looking, seat controls easier to reach (not blocked by door pull), separate stalk for windshield wipers (twisting is odd for me), no radio antenna and the overall feel of the switchgear was a little more substantial. The interior is also much more modern. Personally, I think the exterior styling of the E38 is the pinnacle of automotive design. The proportions (long wheelbase only) are absolutely perfect in my eyes.

Things I like about the W140 - self closing doors, retractable trunk handle, stereo is MUCH better, ride is smoother, quieter, auto climate control works better, more comprehensive gauge cluster, location and size of cupholders (front), adjustable seat bottom depth and finally looking out ahead at the star on the hood. The exterior design of the W140 would have been much more beautiful if the side windows were not so tall. Just an inch or so lower and the proportions would be much better. Still a beauty.

They are both great cars and I would buy another E38 in a heatbeat. I've only had the W140 for a year, so the jury is still out. The E38 cost me $17,000 in repairs over 6 years. The W140 is at about $3,000 in the first year, but most is typical servicing items, belts, fluids, brakes and the like. The only thing that was worn/broken was the rear suspension.

By the way, the computer is operated by a little button on the end of the turn signal stalk.

If anyone wants details on E38 ownership, let me know. I have some experience and lots of paperwork.

trey
 

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Really? I didn't know that. Thanks for the info. Is it as quiet as the W140 then?
Never driven a 750, but the 740 is not as quiet.

trey
 

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Discussion Starter #7
By the way, the computer is operated by a little button on the end of the turn signal stalk.
Damnit! I pushed every button on the dashboard of that thing, except that one!! LOL! Man! Why did they put the control for that in such an obtuse place?

Oh well though, I've heard BMW's trip computers are just fantastic...very accurate, and very very detailed...they've got info for everything. Definitely something the W140 does not have...which is nice too, don't get me wrong.

I still wanna drive an E38 though, just to see how it is. Over on the Cadillac owner's club I belong to, there's a guy that had a '92 500SEL then a 740iL....he said he liked the 140 more, but the E38 was a far more reliable car.
 

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all this talk of front-seat cupholders...

...my s320 has no cup holders at all in the front...unless you consider that flimsy little plastic bit in the glove box a cup holder... it's the one design flaw of the w140. i've seen ebay sales for a substantial looking one that goes in the center armrest compartment...is that what you guys are reffering to? did it come standard on your w140s?
 

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all this talk of front-seat cupholders...

...my s320 has no cup holders at all in the front...unless you consider that flimsy little plastic bit in the glove box a cup holder... it's the one design flaw of the w140. i've seen ebay sales for a substantial looking one that goes in the center armrest compartment...is that what you guys are reffering to? did it come standard on your w140s?
Yes it came with the car. I just ordered a replacement for mine as it exploded when I opened it one time. It still holds cups, but the automatic pop up feature has died. When I removed the broken one, it has a sticker on the bottom with a date of 2001, so the previous owner had it replaced under warranty. I guess 4 years for the first one and 7 for the second aren't too bad.

At least it's easy to replace. The one in the E38 required disassembling half the dash to replace. Luckily, mine lasted the entire time I owned the car, but only because I refused to let anyone else use it. And it only held 12 oz cans.

Driving wise, it depends on what you are looking for. The E38 was a FANTASTIC driving car. It makes you WANT to drive fast and corner like a bat out of hell. The ride could be a little choppy, but that was compounded when I replaced the standard 16 inch rims with 18's. The 140 is smooth and solid, but doesn't give you the confidence to twist as much as the BMW. I guess in my ripe old age of 38, I prefer the more relaxed ride of the Merc.

One thing I have to give to BMW is their solid interiors. My car had 122,000 miles when I sold it and there was not a single rattle, buzz or squeak anywhere in the car. The only problem area was the sunroof - if the shade was open, there was wind noise from there. An updated seal was the solution, but I just never got around to it.

The 140 on the other hand has a few rattles and squeaks. Very minor. My 91 560 SEL sometimes sounds like pieces are about to fall off. The problem is exacerbated when cold outside.

trey
 

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Damnit! I pushed every button on the dashboard of that thing, except that one!! LOL! Man! Why did they put the control for that in such an obtuse place?

Oh well though, I've heard BMW's trip computers are just fantastic...very accurate, and very very detailed...they've got info for everything. Definitely something the W140 does not have...which is nice too, don't get me wrong.

I still wanna drive an E38 though, just to see how it is. Over on the Cadillac owner's club I belong to, there's a guy that had a '92 500SEL then a 740iL....he said he liked the 140 more, but the E38 was a far more reliable car.
Yes, the BC is an awesonme piece of technology. The button was odd at first, but became second nature in no time. I also preferred the way the BMW had the CHECK CONTROL. Press a button on the dash and it would tell you the overall status of the monitored systems of the car. Most times it would read CHECK CONTROL OK. If something was amiss, it would read CHECK HIGHBEAM, CHECK WASHER FLUID, CHECK BRAKE LINING, CHECK ENGINE TEMP, etc. The list goes on. It would automatically come on when something happened along with a gong to get your attention, then disappear, but leave two small triangles to let you know there is something in memory. Upon turning the ignition off, it would gong and display the message again as a reminder to tend to the problem. I really liked the way it would tell you which bulb was burned out, not just a generic idiot light.

I'm sure the W220 S's have most of this, I just found it amazing that BMW started with it so much earlier.

Funny thing with the check control - it would display FASTEN SEAT BELTS every time you started the car, but mine would sometimes show it in German "GURT ANLEGEN" for no reason. One of the quirks I loved.

trey
 

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all this talk of front-seat cupholders...

...my s320 has no cup holders at all in the front...unless you consider that flimsy little plastic bit in the glove box a cup holder... it's the one design flaw of the w140. i've seen ebay sales for a substantial looking one that goes in the center armrest compartment...is that what you guys are reffering to? did it come standard on your w140s?
You know what I did? I got one of those ones that clips into the air vent. I used some strong double sided tape to mount it in the armrest tray. It's ugly but it's covered and works well for my coffee on the way to work on long trips I drink for a sipper bottle of water.
 
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