The History of the BMW 7 Series

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<ul><li><p>The History of the BMW 7 SeriesAfter almost 70 years of experience at the automotive pinnacle, BMW is again presenting a genuine highlight of modern automotive design in the form of the new BMW 7 Series, now in its fifth generation. Stylish presence, luxurious com-fort, elegant functionality and a superior driving sensation are the attributes which characterize the new BMW 7 Series. BMW has been successfully em-bodying these virtues since the 1930s. </p><p>BMW 7 SerIeS</p><p>BMW 7 Series10 </p><p>History</p></li><li><p>1 The Ancestors Gallery: 1939 to 1977 </p><p>The BMW 335, Cover Figure, from 1939 marked BMWs entry into the luxury class. The sedan, which cost 7850 Reich-marks and offered a top speed of 145 km/h, was based on the 326 model from 1936, but had a longer wheelbase of 2984 mm and a completely new 3.5-l six-cylin-der inline engine with 90 hp. With a deep-bed box frame, a torsion-sprung rear axle, oil pressure brakes and a fully-synchronized transmission, the four-door was an innovative concept at the time. All the same, 398 vehicles were pro-duced up to 1941. </p><p>After the end of the war, BMW fol-lowed on from its debut in the automo-tive luxury class with the BMW 501, first presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in 1951. The baroque angel, as it was popularly called due to its curva-</p><p>ceous styling, particularly shone thanks to its suspension, its high powertrain comfort and its outstanding refinement. </p><p>The BMW 502, offering a displace-ment of 2.6 l and 100 hp made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1954, Fig-ure 1. BMWs new, lightweight V8-cyl-inder may well be the most fortunate synthesis of the art of automotive engi-neering this side and that side of the pond to date, was how Motor-Revue welcomed the worlds first standard V8 alloy engine. From 1955 onwards, vari-ous 3.2-l versions were available in out-put stages up to 160 hp in parallel with the 2.6-l model. The top model, the 3200 S from 1961, achieved a top speed of 190 km/h and was therefore Germa-nys fastest series production sedan. Al-most 22,000 vehicles of the 501 and 502 Series rolled off the assembly line until production ended in 1963. </p><p>The Author</p><p>Kai Jacobsen is historian for auto-mobiles and responsi-ble for automotive his-tory at BMW Group Classic in Munich (Germany).</p><p>Figure 1: The BMW 502 made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1954</p><p>ATZextra I November 2008 11 </p></li><li><p>In 1968, BMW revived the tradition of six-cylinder engines and returned to the large sedans market with the 2500 and 2800 models, Figure 2. One of the technical innovations was the so-called triple hemispheric swirl action com-bustion chamber. This ensured opti-mized combustion, resulting in favora-ble consumption values and lavish out-put: The 2.5-l engine offered 150 hp, whilst the 2.8-l version delivered 170 hp. That was sufficient to secure the 2800 a top place in the exclusive club of 200 km/h vehicles. Up to 1977, fur-ther engine variants with up to 200 hp, displacement of 3.2 l and gasoline in-jection were added. Over a number of years, these new six-cylinder engines represented the standard of modern engine construction. </p><p>The body, with its characteristic double headlights, was spacious and of an emphatically functional design. The interior was also refined, functional, sporty and comfortable. The new, luxu-ry class BMW vehicles were additional-ly equipped with a lavish chassis with independent wheel suspension and four disc brakes. Long versions were also offered from 1974 onwards. 222,001 units of this generation were manufactured before the first BMW 7 Series celebrated its premiere in 1977. </p><p>2 The First BMW 7 Series Generation: 1977 to 1986</p><p>The first BMW 7 Series combined an ex-tremely representative exterior with a range of technical world premieres, Figure 3. For example, the BMW 7 Series was equipped with an electronic speed-ometer a world first. Initially, custom-ers were able to choose from three six-cylinder models with 2.8 l and 170 hp, 3.0 l with 184 hp and 3.2 l with 197 hp. In the beginning, gasoline injection was reserved for the top model with the designation 733i, but just two years later, the modern mixture processing system was standard: In 1979, the 732i, which replaced the 733i, was the first car in the world with digital engine electronics. Of course, the first BMW 7 Series flagship was the 745i presented in 1980, offering a 252 hp turbocharged six-cylinder engine. 1978 saw the intro-</p><p>duction of the anti-lock brake system ABS a world first with the onboard computer being launched in 1980. Up to 1986, around 285,000 first genera-tion BMW 7 Series vehicles were built. </p><p>3 The Second BMW 7 Series Generation: 1986 to 1994 </p><p>When it was launched in 1986, the sec-ond BMW 7 Series encountered a virtu-ally euphoric response: The radiance of unobtrusive noblesse, coupled with sporty elegance, enthralled critics equal-ly as much as the vehicles output devel-opment, handling and top-quality equipment. The new BMW 7 Series em-bodied the classic BMW virtues of tech-nology, performance and dynamics. The engine, transmission, rear axle and chassis were further optimized. The electronics monitored the engine and the safety systems, and the Automatic Stability Control system ASC with elec-tronic accelerator and drag torque con-trol found their way into the 735i for the first time. Whilst the first BMW 7 Series consisted exclusively of six-cylin-der models, the second generation of-fered the first German twelve-cylinder sedan since the end of the 1930s in the form of the 750i, which was launched in 1987. Despite its wealth of output, the five-liter, 300 hp alloy engine was satisfied merely with regular grade </p><p>gasoline. In 1992, two eight-cylinder models completed BMWs portfolio in the top segment. The two V8 power plants were characterized by excellent refinement, economic consumption, outstanding performance and low weight. In the fall of the same year, the adaptive transmission control system AGS celebrated its premiere in the 750i/iL. For the first time, this adapted the choice of gear to the individual driving style, giving consideration to both road conditions and the driving situation. In a production period spanning eight years, around 311,000 customers decid-ed in favor of the second generation.</p><p>4 The Third BMW 7 Series Generation: 1994 to 2001</p><p>The third BMW 7 Series generation from 1994 onwards set the standard for ride comfort and agility. The top version, the completely reengineered twelve-cylin-der engine now offered a displacement of 5.4 l and an output of 240 kW. At the same time, fuel consumption in the DIN Euro-mix was reduced by 11 % and by 19 % in the urban cycle. In addition to ABS, two other driving safety systems were also available as a contribution towards active safety: The Automatic Stability Control system (ASC) for the eight-cylin-der models and the Dynamic Stability Control system (DSC II) exclusively for </p><p>Figure 2: In the fall of 1968, BMW introduced a completely new designed large class of six-cylinder vehicles, the 2500/2800</p><p>BMW 7 SerIeS</p><p>BMW 7 Series12 </p><p>HistoryD</p><p>OI: </p><p>10.1</p><p>365/</p><p>s401</p><p>11-0</p><p>08-0</p><p>094-</p><p>6</p></li><li><p>the twelve-cylinder models, both with integrated traction system. </p><p>From the fall of 1995, a new six-cyl-inder model rounded off the range the 728i with inline alloy engine. One year later, the eight-cylinder 730i and 740i models were replaced by the revised 735i and 740i, now with a displacement of 4.4 l. Thanks to state-of-the-art tech-nology, these offered greater dynamics with lower consumption at the same time. In the new V8 engines, BMW be-came the first manufacturer in the world to implement a requirement-ori-ented, variable engine cooling system, mapped cooling. In combination with the five-speed automatic transmission, all BMW 7 Series vehicles were fitted with Steptronic from then on. In addi-tion to fully-automatic control, this also enabled individual manual shifting.</p><p>In 1996, a diesel, the BMW 725tds, was launched onto the market for the first time. The 730d was introduced in 1998. Its 3-l inline six-cylinder engine again confirmed BMWs top position in the field of engine construction: Four-valve technology, common rail direct fuel injection, turbocharger with vari-able geometry, 135 kW and 410 Nm of torque. Its consumption 8.7 l of diesel </p><p> and its top speed of 220 km/h were also without competition. The new eight-cylinder 740d with 180 kW was the high point of diesel development. Over 327,000 purchasers decided on the third BMW 7 Series generation. </p><p>5 The Fourth BMW 7 Series Generation: 2001 to 2008</p><p>The fourth BMW 7 Series generation was a quantum leap in every regard: It was not oriented directly towards ei-ther its predecessor or the competition, but defined its own, completely new form with characteristics such as: Un-conventional, comfortable and individ-ual. The design of the new BMW 7 Se-ries was more than just an evolution, it was a type of design revolution. Sporti-ness, dynamism, luxury and presence were the guiding elements in design-ing the exterior, with particular atten-tion being paid to the topic of pres-ence this time: The new BMW 7 Series was an outstanding phenomenon on the road. At the same time, the new ve-hicle concept and the innovative iDrive operating concept enabled a new, clear and modern interior architecture to be </p><p>developed and operating comfort to be raised to new heights. The technical specifications read like a guideline for promising future technologies: Fully-variable intake system BI-Vanos, the first V8 engine with Valvetronic, six-speed automatic transmission, individ-ually programmable cruise control, aluminum chassis with Dynamic Drive and, last but not least, the hydrogen combustion engine fitted in the BMW Hydrogen 7. n</p><p>Figure 3: From 1977, the 7 Series set new standards in the BMW model range</p><p>ATZextra I November 2008 13 </p></li></ul>