Old luxury cars are in this kind of limbo, which many of them don’t survive. They’re too passé to attract the attention of their wealthy first owners. Tossed aside when the next new thing comes along, they move down to aspiring types who want to project the image of their first owners for less money (or, you might argue, sensible types who can’t stomach the idea of absorbing the double-hit of costly depreciation and maintenance). For round three, they’re fully depreciated to three or four percent of their inflation-adjusted new price. Of course, you’re not getting 100% of the original car – mileage figures are often solidly into six digits, and all the luxury amenities have suffered from use and environmental degradation – but if you budget thoughtfully, an older luxury car can still be a compelling proposition for someone on a modest budget. So first, let’s take a look at this 1990 BMW 735iL for sale for $3500 in Port Charlotte, FL.
Okay, so the lowering is maybe a bit much, as is the blackout paint job – at least the seller had the restraint to leave the wheels be – but overall, this seems to present nicely with straight panels and glossy paint. This car is equipped with the M30B35 straight six cylinder, which has ample power and is capable of pretty high mileage, as shown here with 216,000 miles on the odometer. For better (or worse?) the seller appears to be a BMW enthusiast, mentioning that he would trade for an M3 body or E36 coupe.
Look closely at this picture and you’ll see the kicker – a third pedal and manual shifter. Long-wheelbase versions of the E32 were never so equipped, so this conversion has been done by a later owner. It’s said to have a new clutch, master cylinder, and slave cylinder, limited slip differential, Goodyear RS-A tires, and Bilstein springs and shock absorbers, so it should be pretty fun for such a big car, perhaps even capable at the odd track day. The driver’s seat shows a small hole and some cracking, but with any luck you could keep this going for a while longer by replacing that small center panel on the driver’s side and thoroughly treating the leather – some dye might also help get you to a nice, aged leather look. The steering wheel is also a little rough, and should probably go to a hellflush E30 while you find yourself a factory wheel that’s more suitable for this luxury car.
The engine compartment looks rather clean, and is free of any signs of corrosion on the shock towers or the engine metal. Hopefully, that’s an indication that it’s well-maintained, and recognizing how cheap this car is, if you apply your new-econobox budget to this thing, you will have plenty left over after purchase to spend on needs like the air conditioning compressor, other items the seller designates as minor, some improvements of your choosing, and then have some left for unexpected items. If your budget is more new-family-sedan, or you want double the cylinder count, consider this 1990 BMW 750iL for sale for $3500 in Cocoa, FL.
Showing only 96,000 miles, this car’s glossy black paint and likely original gold BBS wheels give an excellent impression. Everything is said to work, air conditioning is said to be cold, and the seller offers to provide more pictures. Even the roundels are in good condition – perhaps this is one of those unicorns that was owned and garaged from new by a wealthy retired couple. The only concern is the lack of license plates, so you’ll want to ask how long it’s been off the road and whether there’s been any recent service.
The leather looks to have suffered a bit in the climate, though it’s not clear how much of this is dirt as opposed to permanent damage. As with the car above, perhaps a careful cleaning and rejuvenation can improve things and give you a few extra years of service. In spite of the pale interior, everything looks quite clean and in good condition. Even the precious factory tool kit looks to have retained most of its tools. For that smooth V12 or the famous inline six, would you apply your new car budget to one of these now-senior BMWs?