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Discussion Starter #1
I have been driving E38s for 10+ years and now I have an E39. Here are some initial thoughts comparing them.

The E38 still has a commanding presence. BUT, my E39 Wagon looks cool, too. The E38 says Old Money to me and the E39 Wagon has a Funky Presence.

In terms of driving, I was surprised how thick the steering wheel is on the Wagon. It also feels MUCH less assisted. In other words, it takes more effort. I like it. The E38 power steering boost is almost like a big American car.

The E38 has more room (obviously), but I don't feel cramped in the E39. The back seat is where the size is DEFINITELY noticeable.

The E38 is QUIET! The doors on the E39 do not have the satisfying vault like thunk of the E38.

While the E38 has that locomotive rush of power when accelerating hard, the E39 seems pretty peppy, too. It is a different feeling.

The E39 hugs the curves a little better, but the E38 REALLY pulls out of the curves with speed.

The fit and finish are both very nice, but the E38 feels more luxurious.

I can reach back at a stop light and get something from the backseat in the E39!

I like the HVAC controls on the E38 better.

I haven't taken the E39 on a long trip. But, I went about 25 miles on the highway this morning. The E38 feels like I could cruise at 90 mph for hours. But, the E39 feels like it would be more fun to drive. So, if I want to drive for fun and sort of thrash around then its the E39, but if I want to eat up 500 miles, the E38 is the car!


Things that are very similar: I have the ABS Trifecta on the E39. I have had that three times on my various E38. So, that seems pretty familiar. I asked my wife what she thought. She said she couldn't really tell much difference. She said the E39 feels like a BMW.
 

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Id agree with your assessment for the most part. I had a 98 740il that I still regret selling... it was all sorted out and ran like a top when I sold it. Wife loved driving that car too. With the prices where they are, Id like to get another E38 at some point... I need a bigger garage for sure... :D
 

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While similar, 2 very different cars.
The e38 excels at long distance driving, while the e39 is more fun around town.
The e39 is smaller, but with the same V8 as the e38, so the e39 is easier to maneuver doing errands.
The e38 is nicer for long distance drives, and yes, the e38 is more luxurious.
 

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Having been in a 540 and moving to the 750, I have a slightly different perspective. The 540 is nimbler but not massively so. It was a bit quicker off the line with plenty of torque generally available for most drives. The 750 has torque available all day long and feels just a bit slower from the line. Still plenty of getup though and can surprise many a “fastnfurious” vehicle. The comfort of the 7 is unquestionable but the main thing I like: kids can’t kick the back of the front seats. The volume of storage (trunk and seats) is nice as well. I can pack the family (wife and 2 kids) and allow “mom packing” whereas with the 540 I had to edit that packing.
The largest difference is stopping distance. The 540 seemed like it could stop on a quarter or less; the 750 more like a Sacajawea coin (and might ask to borrow a dime). I am refreshing the brakes so that should help but suspect it will still be at least a Kennedy.
Overall I enjoy the 750 more than the 540 but would have kept the 540 forever but for the wreck.


2001 750iL DD74441
Stock

RIP: 2003 540iA Sport GS56111
H&R front springs, Ultimate Cup Holder, Euro Dash & Armrest, Grom, BavSound Stage1
 

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Uniquely qualified to respond to this the ad since the comparison was the e38 vs e39 Touring...I can say the e38 hands down is 2nd to none in terms of luxury, quietness, roominess, comfort, and highway hauler. The LWB inherently provides a different character in regards to how the car handles expansion joints & road irregularities. And the 7 series has lots more sound proofing...there were times I'd not turn on the radio just to envelope myself in the quietness of the cabin...taking in the solitude and hearing the gentle "tha-thunk" as the tires passed over the higway's expansion joints. :)

The e39 Touring (especially if optioned with rear self leveling suspension) is also an interesting BMW to own. It marries a unique utilitarian vehicle with the awesome handling of a BMW sedan. The Touring has a great cargo carrying capacity that it's sibling 5 series sedan doesn't have...but unless you're looking in the rear view mirror...you can forget you have all that space behind you.

The e39 Touring makes a great daily driver...being nimble enough for an urban environment...yet can quickly be utilitarian for suburban or rural spur of the moment situations.

The e38 shines best on the highway or if needing a great looking car for a night out on the town...or if you need to ferry 4 adults comfortably...or older parents/family/friends...the back seats are a godsend. And if you've never had an opportunity to be a passenger in the rear seats of a LWB e38...you'very missed out on an amazing place to be sit ting on a long journey. If you own one & never been back there...you've gotta try it before selling it. It will give you a new perspective of how awesome the. E38 is.


 

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In my opinion the E39 is just a sport version of the E38, I love the E38, but the E39 is even better to me. Everything is more together. I prefer the E39 interior, the E38 is my 2nd favorite car all time for sure. You can't tell them apart in the distance. Same design language.
 

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2001 BMW E39 540i Automatic Sedan, 192 K miles
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Interesting take on the E39 vs E38.
So, given an E38 and E39, same year, same engine (M62TU), same fair condition and approximately same mileage, what is the choice ?? and the price ?!
 

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I have had both. The E38 is basically a bigger E39 and the E39 is basically a smaller E38. And with those astute observations of mine, your comments are pretty much consistent with a big car vs. a smaller car. The smaller car handles better and the bigger car has a bigger backseat. The 7-series in general is meant to be a comfort cruiser while the 5-series a more spirited driving experience. See my signature and all the cars I have owned, especially the number of 7-series. Although I miss the technology of the later model year 7-series, I reluctantly traded down (divorce) from an E65 (and 5 7's in a row) to an F10 several years back and I would never go back. The ride and handling of the smaller wheel base is difference for me. I also "feel" a few years younger driving a 5-series vs. the 7-series.:rofl::rofl::rofl:
 

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…. I also "feel" a few years younger driving a 5-series vs. the 7-series.:rofl::rofl::rofl:
… Now that's a very valid point:thumbup:
 

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I love this thread since I'm always faced with the question of which car should I drive for the day. I've had my E39 '99 528i since 2004 and it was my daily driver for some six years, at which point it became my back-up car during a 3-year sordid affair with a red MB C300 4-matic.

I've had the E38 '99 740iL since 2015 after my dad (original owner) suddenly and without warning, decided that because he's in his 80s now, he must drive a Buick. (This is the same man who once owned a '79 911 SC Targa mind you) :dunno:

The Buick stealer offered him $3k on the trade and that was with 87k original miles, never been hit, garage kept its entire life and stealer maintained since new. I matched the price (don't judge, my pops ain't never gave me nothing for free - smart man!) and never regretted the bargain basement Bimmer version of a land yacht I drove away with that day.

So which is the better car? They both are IMO. While so similar in so many ways, they are very different in their missions and feel. The E39 is a dedicated sport sedan meant to carve S-turns and switchbacks while delivering the driving fun goodness that BMW is famous for. The E38 on the other hand is the quintessential, highway eating, luxury sports sedan with limo size leg room in the back, enough trunk space to fit several mobster's victims, an impressive (for the time) factory stereo and a driver experience that beats most other manufacturers's dedicated sports models. However, it's still a really big car and I can feel it's heft when trying to take a local road with a bunch of S-turns at the same speeds I do with the 528. If I had gotten a E39 540-6, I might well be singing a different tune.

My final thought goes to personal experience. Over the last couple of years, I find myself driving the 740iL 4-5 days a week and the 528i 2-3 days a week. I love both cars, but that V8 rumble and power is a very sweet siren call indeed!
 

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There are not many e38's left on the roads, well, not here anyway. Never had an e38 but always admired it, its one of the most beautiful cars ever made, there is an Oxford Green e38 in my little town and when I see it I need a paper roll to catch my drool, it always look fantastic. I bet the elderly owner had it from new.
There are quite some e39's around but most of them are pretty beat up, mine also didnt receive the love it deserved in the past, you can tell.
Most of these cars are now close to 20 years old and many forget these are luxury sedans so they get disappointed when trying new cars out.
Years ago the e39 was unobtainium for me, a distant dream, but my car was given to me for free so I treasure every minute I drive in it. It just feels so right, fits like an expensive tailored glove.
I sometimes fetch our guests at the airport in it and people comment about how smooth it is and how safe they feel in the car. (And I dont even know if the airbag will still work!) Driving it you have a sense of pride and pure enjoyment, I can only imagine what an e38 feels like!
 

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My 1998 740il was a great car. I absolutely loved being the driver when we went out with other couples. It was like a limo back there and everyone remarked on it. That car was a great cruiser and the M62 performed well in it, but make no mistake, it was not a car I would drive hard or corner hard with, especially with the 16" basket weaves. I did like modding that car and I remember yearning for a 750il for the V12 and some other minor interior trim options such as a cooler in the backseat.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
There are not many e38's left on the roads, well, not here anyway. Never had an e38 but always admired it, its one of the most beautiful cars ever made, there is an Oxford Green e38 in my little town and when I see it I need a paper roll to catch my drool, it always look fantastic. I bet the elderly owner had it from new.
There are quite some e39's around but most of them are pretty beat up, mine also didnt receive the love it deserved in the past, you can tell.
Most of these cars are now close to 20 years old and many forget these are luxury sedans so they get disappointed when trying new cars out.
Years ago the e39 was unobtainium for me, a distant dream, but my car was given to me for free so I treasure every minute I drive in it. It just feels so right, fits like an expensive tailored glove.
I sometimes fetch our guests at the airport in it and people comment about how smooth it is and how safe they feel in the car. (And I dont even know if the airbag will still work!) Driving it you have a sense of pride and pure enjoyment, I can only imagine what an e38 feels like!
If you have never driven an E38, you have to try it. The e39 is similar. But, not the same.

They are wonderful cars. I would keep driving them if it were not for the timing chain guides. My current 7 had 93K miles on it when I got it. I put 55K miles on it in about 18 months. That included a 120 Mile commute. It was a pleasure to drive. I drove it over 2000 miles in 4 days last year. I could deal with the window regulators going out, or the radiator/tank/hoses/waterpump leaking, but the timing chain guides is a fatal (or near fatal) problem for me. I suppose if I loved my E38 enough I would be willing to spend $4000 to fix the TCG when it goes bad, but it sure is hard to justify.
 

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If you have never driven an E38, you have to try it. The e39 is similar. But, not the same.

They are wonderful cars. I would keep driving them if it were not for the timing chain guides.
…..
I assume you have replaced the timing chain tensioner - a pretty easy job and cheap insurance to extend the lifetime of the TCG on the M62 engine. :angel:
 

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A bit off topic but this reminds me of the Huey and Cobra. Related airframes, same engine and similar transmission. One is a people hauler, the other is definitely not.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I assume you have replaced the timing chain tensioner - a pretty easy job and cheap insurance to extend the lifetime of the TCG on the M62 engine. :angel:
I did on my other one. I need to on my current driver. It was done once before. But, that was when it had 60K miles.
 

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I did on my other one. I need to on my current driver. It was done once before. But, that was when it had 60K miles.
Well, your current driver is a 530i , and does NOT have the M62 engine, right ?? If so, the timing chain guides/tensioner issue does NOT apply. Forget about it..:mad:
 

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A few years ago I drove an E38 for sale. For whatever reason, I was not tempted from my 530i. Was not a LWB.

If you asked me to bet, I'd say the "old man," auto trans GT BMW in my future would be an E31. But all theoretical, since my wife says I can't have more than two and I don't want to sell either current M.
 
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