2000 BMW 740i Sport Automatic E38

2000 BMW 740i Sport Automatic E38

When one man’s passion for the 7 Series takes over, the resulting project takes the luxury flagship to a whole other level.

Words: Elizabeth de Latour

Photos: Kabir Zaman

SUBLIME 740i E38 blends style, luxury and pace

Seventh Heaven

The E38 7 Series is still an incredibly elegant luxury car, and this stunning 740i has been transformed into something really rather special.

The E38 might just be our favourite 7 Series. Yes, the E23 and E32 have plenty of charm, and the E65 and beyond trump it comfortably for tech, but in terms of design, it’s the E38 that does it for us. The styling, the proportions, they’re just so right, and even today, almost 30 years on from its launch, it still looks so good. There's an air of sophistication about it. a sense of unpretentious luxury, and. in the right spec, it looks, for want of a better word, money.

The E38 7 Series is still an incredibly elegant luxury car, and this stunning 740i has been transformed into something really rather special.

It speaks volumes, then, that Amjad Ali (mycarsmyway). Technical Director at Gunther Werks, a company producing some of the most incredible and exclusive Porsche resto-mods imaginable, drives an E38 740i. In fact, he owns no fewer than four BMs. so it’s clear that even though being passionate about Porsches is what brings him money, being passionate about BMWs is what brings him joy.

«I've been interested in BMWs since 1978 when I first sat in my uncle’s E23 733i.” Amjad begins, and it's clear where his passion for the 7 Series comes from. „As a child. I was just in awe of them. the way they looked and how fast they were. I’m not really a fan of modern BMWs, the E38, E39 and E46 were where BMWs were at their best,” he says, and we doubt he's the only one to feel that way. “My first BMW was an E28 M535i — it was mentally quick and drifted forever. My older brother had E28s. and it was my favourite BMW of them all at the time, and the start of many E28s and E30s back then.» Amjad grins, and the amount of BMs he’s owned, and the number of those he’s modified, could likely fill this entire magazine.

2000 BMW 740i Sport Automatic E38

«There are too many to list,” he laughs. “From running 16” Alpina wheels on E28s back in the ’80s and ’90s, ‘chipping’ an E28 M5, to modifying E30s, E32s, E34 to E60 M5s, the list is endless. I’ve been lucky to own every M5 from the E28 to the F10,” he adds, and it’s clear that BMs are a huge part of Amjad’s life. We already know that he’s a big 7 Series fan, but how did he end up with this car? “I moved back to the UK at the end of 2019, after 13 years abroad and decided I wanted another E38 740i,” Amjad tells us, and that’s a very reasonable thing to want.

“I bought a 740i Sport brand new in 2000 and kept that car for 12 years, the longest I’ve ever kept a BMW after owning over 40. I kept it even though I wasn’t even living in the UK at the time – the E38 is my favourite BMW followed closely by the E28. I think the E38 is the best-looking saloon car BMW ever made and one of the best-looking of any make,” he says, and we totally get that.

2000 BMW 740i Sport Automatic E38

“I got lucky and found this advertised locally as a trade-in to clear at a car dealership at a ridiculous price at the end of 2019. A price you can’t even buy a set of E38 M Parallel wheels for today,” Amjad laughs. “The MOT had expired two days before I bought it, but the car was in great condition and drove really well,” so the bargain E38 was bagged and brought home, and there was always a goal in mind. “My older brother, Liaquat was a BMW specialist with his own garage, so it was bought from the outset as a project car that we would build together. With the Covid outbreak and travel restrictions for me, it ended up becoming a lockdown project,” Amjad says, and what you can’t appreciate from these pictures is how far this E38 has come. When Amjad bought it, it was a totally stock, facelift 740i on M Paras, and its transformation has been comprehensive, to say the least.

The first course of action was to refurbish and upgrade a whole host of components on the underside to get the E38 in proper working order. He also added rear H arms and Powerflex poly bushes on the subframe to allow for fine-tuning of the rear suspension geometry, and then a set of DGR coilovers were installed along with adjustable front camber plates. Amjad then added a new front strut brace, installed new discs and pads all-round, refurbished the factory four-pot Brembo front brake calipers and added braided brake lines all-round.

2000 BMW 740i Sport Automatic E38

Finally, he fitted a 3.15 Sport diff to replace the standard 2.93 ratio item to improve acceleration. “From the outset, the chassis modifications were all based on making the car handle at its best while at the same time retaining ride comfort befitting an executive saloon,” explains Amjad. “The ride height is based on handling, and although it could go lower, doing so messed up camber, caster and toe-in, which all harm handling.

The car easily out-handles my E39 and E46 while being comfortable and with no body roll. It now handles better than an E39 M5. I spent six months playing with the suspension settings to get it right,” he says, and it was clearly time well spent. It’s nice to see someone putting together a build that serves up some serious stance but prioritises handling, and the results speak for themselves. As we said before, this E38 has come a long way in terms of looks from how it started out life, and Amjad’s eagerness not to walk the same path as so many other E38 owners has really paid off. “Exterior styling is limited when it comes to the E38,” he laments. “My last E38 I ordered with Alpina wheels and Alpina front lip, and looking at the E38 scene nearly all modified E38s are the same or have at least an Alpina lip. I wanted to go the AC Schnitzer route to be different, so it has a Schnitzer front lip, mirrors, rear window spoiler and exhaust tips. They also did side skirts and a rear valance which is made for the trapezoidal-shape exhaust tips that Schnitzer made for the E38 back then. But I preferred the original BMW side mouldings and didn’t like the rear valance, plus I wanted to use the later figure-eight exhaust tips for my custom exhaust. Getting all the parts together took about a year, all in. The hardest parts to find were the Schnitzer mirrors, they took a year as they are really rare,” he says, but it was most definitely worth the effort as the results are tremendous. The Schnitzer styling adds a real sense of muscle, and it just looks so good, while we also love the various little touches, like the ACS decal stripes and the colour-coded side mouldings that make all the difference. It’s at once clean, retro and yet also a little more modern than the standard car, and it just works so well. And, of course, opting for Schnitzer styling meant there was only ever going to be one choice when it came to wheels.

2000 BMW 740i Sport Automatic E38

“Because I had decided to go down the Schnitzer route that dictated the wheels. I found a set of Type IV Schnitzer wheels for sale locally, and again to be different, I bought those. I hadn’t seen another E38 with them, and I use them as my winter wheels. I used spacers to make them sit perfectly on the car and then using those fitment details I ordered a set of 20” three-piece Schnitzer Type II-style wheels from Wheels & Co. These are custom-made to my offsets and are fully forged, including the centres. The originals had cast centres, so these are even lighter,” Amjad smiles. You don’t need us to tell you how incredible these wheels look, and while many will be quick to turn their noses up at reps, when the reps are even better than the originals, you can’t argue with that.

At first glance, the interior looks very nice, but it’s even more special than it first appears, and so much work has gone into getting this cabin looking as good as it does. “As I wanted to daily drive the car, I wanted to fit the Sport-model Contour seats and a full Sport interior from the outset.

2000 BMW 740i Sport Automatic E38

The car had a full grey interior with Contour seats, which is the least desirable interior colour. I found a 735i Sport, which had a full Tobacco interior, for sale and decided to buy the car just for the interior. It turns out only two RHD E38s were made for the UK with a Tobacco interior, so I got lucky,” grins Amjad. “The interior was swapped over, along with the headlining, A-, B-, C-pillars, bottom dash, centre console, front and rear seats and door cards. Rare birch anthracite wood trim was also added. My car came with rear door blinds and a rear window blind, so the rear door cards had to be modified and mixed and matched with parts from the original door cards. I had to dye the rear parcel shelf from grey to black due to the rear blind and also because my car has four rear-mounted speakers as part of the factory DSP audio upgrade,” explains Amjad. “I didn’t install the tobacco carpet, and instead sourced a black carpet. While I was doing the interior, I added footwell lights, illuminated door sills, a build plaque next to the sunroof controls, mood lights, and rear C-pillar up-lights,” he says. There’s also an Android touch-screen head unit that looks great and gives the dashboard a more modern appearance, and he’s also added a modified Sport steering wheel with working shift paddles. Amjad’s commitment to making the interior this special commands immeasurable respect, and it was worth all that effort. The tobacco colour is gorgeous and is the perfect match for the Vermont green bodywork, and the countless touches make it look and feel both more modern and more upmarket, and it is nothing short of magnificent.

Now we come to the engine, and while the venerable M62 is a fine V8 that offers what you might describe as ‘adequate’ performance, it’s never been great in terms of modding, but, as you might have figured by now, Amjad doesn’t do things by halves. “The M6244TU 4.4 was always restricted at the time to make sure the engine didn’t produce more power than the M73 V12 in the 750i. Breathing was restricted to do this, so removing the restrictive air box and increasing the diameter of the MAF and adding a bigger throttle body makes a huge difference,” he explains. “This then aids the larger 4.6 manifold that has larger-diameter runners and is a lot less restrictive than the standard manifold. All of the mods are done to increase airflow into the engine. The high-flow secondary cats with the stainless exhaust with X-pipe help the exhaust be less restrictive. I’ve never dyno’d the car, but it pulls 12+ car lengths on my lighter 540i Sport with the same engine and gearbox from 50-120mph. Not bad for a big heavy old barge,” chuckles Amjad.

With so many incredible mods on board this equally incredible 7 Series, picking a favourite might seem challenging, but Amjad doesn’t hesitate. “It’s the build plaque in the car. It has the Schnitzer logo, VIN and says “Custom built by” my big brother’s signature (which I scanned) and “LA Motors BMW Specialist”, which was his garage. At the time, he told me not to waste time putting his signature on it, but I wanted to, so I did. Unfortunately, he passed away on January 16 2022, and I am so happy I did that now. The car carries his registration plate, which he had owned since 1974, and now the car and his plate have become part of his legacy,” he smiles, and what a wonderful to remember his brother this 7 Series is. “We started this in March 2020 as a lockdown project, and it was all done by August 2021. Money wasn’t an object. My brother insisted that everything had to be done right with no cutting of corners, what we did till now was ‘Phase 1’ if you like. I had a lot of other plans to do more, and even now he’s gone, I will continue to do them, as it’s a car I will never sell,” smiles Amjad. “Plans for the future include a ZF eight-speed gearbox upgrade, S62 engine swap, exhaust manifold, VF supercharger install, M5 steering box swap, big brake conversion with six-pot calipers and 380mm front disks, LSD upgrade for the diff,” he says. As impressive as this Seven is now, ‘Phase 2’ is going to turn it into something truly special. The E38 was one of BMW’s finest hours, and while modifying them can be tricky, done right, the results can be truly astonishing. Amjad’s awesome build is a sensational Seven that stands out from the crowd in all the best ways possible, a fitting memory to his brother and a fitting way to express his passion for his favourite BMW.

The 4.4-litre M62 V8 has been equipped with a freer-flowing 4.6 intake manifold, Eventuri intake and a full stainless exhaust system with high-flow cats One of only two RHD Tobacco interiors has been swapped into the 740i, and it is joined by birch anthracite wood trim and a custom steering wheel, plus countless additional touches.

TECHNICAL DATA 2000 BMW 740i SportAutomatic E38

  • ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION: 4.4-litre V8 M62B44, 4.6 intake manifold, 90mm throttle body, 90mm MAF housing, Eventuri intake, full stainless exhaust with high-flow secondary cats, X-pipe and AC Schnitzer tips. ZF five-speed Steptronic gearbox
  • CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) Wheels & Co. custom-made forged three-piece wheels with 255/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Michelin PS4 tyres, DGR coilovers, custom alignment based on Alpina B12 settings, front strut brace, Brembo four-piston front calipers, 3.15 rear diff
  • EXTERIOR: Vermont green, AC Schnitzer front lip, mirrors, rear window spoiler, rear lip spoiler and stripe set, angel eye headlights, custom roundels, AC Schnitzer badges front and rear with custom AC S7V8 badge
  • INTERIOR: Full Sport interior in rare Tobacco colour with Contour front seats, birch anthracite wood trim, illuminated door pockets, footwells and C-pillars, mood lights, Android touch-screen head-unit with Apple CarPlay, integrated USB ports, integrated wireless charger, built-in wi-fi hotspot, custom Sport steering wheel from Royal Steering Wheels, paddle shift with aluminium paddles, illuminated door sills
  • THANKS: Thanks to LA Motors, e38.shop, Wheels & Co., Royal Steering Wheels, Ed Eddy from 777 Garage, SJH Coachworks Glenrothes, and RC Tyres Glenrothes. Lastly, my late brother Liaquat Ali: he built the car with me and was the reason I got into cars in the first place, and is the reason I now work in the car industry

The ride height is based on handling, and although it could go lower, doing so messed up camber, caster and toe-in, which all harm handling. The car easily outhandles my E39 and E46

It’s all about the details; the mirrors took a year to source as they are so rare

Nearly all modified E38s are the same… I wanted to go the AC Schnitzer route to be different, so it has a Schnitzer front lip, mirrors, rear window spoiler and exhaust tips

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