This has aged beautifully.
We've mentioned time and time again how BMW's recent designs have been polarizing at best, and it's a pity. The automaker responsible for beauties like the Z8 and the 507 seems to have lost its way, but we sometimes forget that this is not the first era in which BMW has made quirky cars that aren't instantly attractive. Perhaps that is why it's a good idea to look back at some of these designs, to help us see that BMW can find its way back from the abyss. Proof of its highs and lows is the BMW 7 Series. While the current model is not exactly pretty, the two-tone one that Karl Lagerfeld designed in the 90s was undeniably breathtaking.
BMW Group Classic's latest video focuses on the E38 750iL, with the 'L' representing a longer wheelbase for more rear-passenger comfort. The 7 was always the flagship car, introducing new technologies that later trickled down to other cars, and this one was no different. As a flagship car, it needed a flagship engine, and that's what it got in the form of a 5.4-liter V12 developing 326 horsepower. Thanks to features like a heated steering wheel, a color display navigation system, and a Nokia Communicator phone, the 750iL needed every last horsepower to lug around a curb weight of two tons. Despite that, it could do a limited 155 mph and remained engaging to drive, with the engine mounted as far back as possible for ideal handling.
BMW's fascination with art can be seen in the two-tone example. Canyon Red adorns the lower half of the car while Nepal Silver Metallic covers the top, in reference to the hotel's corporate identity. Designed by Karl Lagerfeld as part of a BMW collaboration with the Four Seasons Hotel in Hamburg, it remains a striking thing to look at more than 20 years later. Besides its looks, the car also boasted a fax machine, a VHS player with a screen between the front seats, a minibar, and two telephones. Of course, none of that compares to the features of the car that Pierce Brosnan drove in Tomorrow Never Dies as James Bond.
Whichever E38 7 Series you like most, it's clear that BMW is more than capable of creating beauty from metal, glass, and rubber. Let's hope we see more of this potential in future designs.