Senior Seven – 1980 BMW 733i

While we’re on the subject of cars that cover long distances well, or at least did when they were new, the BMW E23 7-series is one of those cars. If you missed the 1984 BMW 745i, or it was beyond your financial or mechanical abilities, rest assured, there are even cheaper alternatives out there, even with a manual transmission. That’s how we get to this grey-market 1980 BMW 733i, for sale in La Crescenta, CA for a mere $1400.

1980 BMW 733 left rear

It actually looks pretty decent for a 33-year-old luxury car in its price range, but that white paint and its associated overexposure can hide a lot. It’s also not clear this car was legally imported, as it has European bumpers and no side marker lights, but in one shot you can catch a glimpse of the 1982-87 California Golden State (sunrise) license plate, which suggests the car has been in the US since it was nearly new, and at least since 1987. Let’s hope it’s got all the right approvals and was just imported by a careless firm.

1980 BMW 733 right front

To its deficit, the car appears to wear 6-series TRX wheels, and needs some kind of transmission work. However, this is a good occasion for some cooler period wheels – a set of Alpina turbine-style wheels would look great. And if the transmission’s needs are terminal, you might as well go for a five-speed upgrade to enhance the car’s long-distance-ability. Oh, and speaking of Alpina, for some reason the seller is marketing this as an Alpina car because of the small badge on the trunk lid. Don’t expect anything in that regard. The car is said to be in immaculate shape, and with the BBS front spoiler and trunk lip, it has potential to be a pretty smart-looking example. Would you take the leap? Or is this deserving of the Bad Idea category?


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4 Responses to “Senior Seven – 1980 BMW 733i”

  1. steve in podunk Says:

    “The odometer only quit working a couple of weeks ago”, I bet the a/c only needs a recharge too.

  2. Chris Keen Says:

    I know, but at $1400 for a Euro-market car I guess you take the good with the bad…

  3. steve in podunk Says:

    Oh, I agree with you Chris. I was just calling out one of those all too common Craigslist lies. I’ve made the mistake of buying cheap older formerly high-end cars before including a 7-series, and I have always been punished severely for my lapse in judgement,but At least this isn’t a Jaguar.

  4. David Stefanac Says:

    Missed it! Posting expired, darn it.

    Props to whoever federalized that car, side markers always cause rust. Euro bumpers really clean up the styling too. The A/C system might just be functional, but it’ll default to the ‘max A/C’ setting if there are any vacuum leaks in the overcomplex Behr HVAC system. Those Behr vac actuators are a curse in many 80’s Euro cars.

    I’d still consider one of these if it’s not a rust bucket. Despite their size, the E23 isn’t all that heavy compared to newer luxury cars. Parts are not impossible either – many are still available new at BMW parts departments. And the M30 is a jewel of a motor. Fuel mileage is adequate, it sounds great and is capable of astounding longevity. The rest of the car is built like a bank vault too.

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