** This article is the personal experience of a 1997 BMW E38 728i owner and does not necessarily reflect the views of WapCar.
Facebook: Joseph Lau
The BMW E38 728i is the 5th car that I have purchased with my wife; with the 1st being a: Perodua Myvi 2009 1.3A (Sold), 2nd: Proton Inspira 2.0E (Sold), 3rd: Toyota Vellfire ANH20 2009 (In current ownership), 4th: Honda HR-V (in current ownership). Ever since the bond movie, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ & the Transporter, the BMW E38 7-Series had then been my favourite car, therefore the purchase. The 90’s look, design, smell and sound the BMW E38 7-Series offers is just captivating to me personally. The decision to get an E38 7-Series was made mid-2019; therefore, searching the local marketing pages like Mudah, Carlist, FB marketplace, Carousell, etc. daily hoping to find a good deal, yes you heard me right, DAILY. In total, I have viewed 8 different BMW E38 with all situated in KL which I’ve travelled down to view with my family during the weekends when possible.
My budget was tight between RM15-20k for the car includes covering puspakom, ownership transfers, insurance & roadtax. Primarily looking for a 728i since the straight-6 M52B28 was considered a well made engine by the BMW community and maintenance is reasonable. Many might consider the 2.8litre, 193HP/280NM to be exceptionally underpowered but personally, it’s ‘enough’ for our Malaysian roads.
In February 2020, this BMW E38 728i of mine was sourced on Carousell but the car was situated in KL while I was in Penang. After exchanging contacts and photos with the seller, I got my relative to view the car on my behalf and the overall feedback was positive; but being an old car, nothing was perfect. I proceed to confirm the purchase with the seller and paid a deposit. We signed a simple gentleman’s agreement between us to prove that we both are genuine and I transferred a deposit to secure the car. Puspakom was done after with the 1st inspection, ‘GAGAL’ due to the tint and after removal of the tint, 2nd inspection ‘LULUS’. I got the insurance arranged after the Puspakom was approved. On 4th of March 2020, I took leave and flew down to Subang →LRT→ Grab to Wangsa Maju JPJ branch to get the ownership transferred and to collect the car.
Before I made my inaugural drive back to Penang, I immediately got my car a wheel alignment + balancing & also an engine oil, oil filter, ATF and radiator fluid change in which I found out that I had one of the front wheels with a minor dent and the back ride height lopsided. Nevertheless, managed to drive the car back to Penang safely and it was one of the best drive I had.
Since purchase came COVID-19 lockdowns and I only have managed to clock up about 1000km and even though the car is 23 years old, it feels solid, well planted to the road and the cabin is definitely quite either on low or high speeds. However, during the time of ownership, I have managed to note on the following faults of my car which currently have either been rectified on in the list of doing so :
- Steering box leak – fitted new ‘O’ rings and retighten
- Weather rubber gaskets brittle – Replaced with original BMW parts
- 1 of the ignition coils not performing well which caused rough idle – replaced with OEM parts
- Spark Plugs not in the best condition – replaced all 6 pcs
- Rear ride height not balanced – replaced with new Bilstein springs
- Rear boot paintwork with minor bubbles – pending
- Rear boot push to lift not working – pending
- Central locking not working – repaired
- Left/Rear lock actuator not working – replaced
- Both Rear tail lamps with water leaks into the housing (that looks like an aquarium) – DIY in removing the whole tail lamp, drying it, resealing with silicone
- CD changer not working – pending
- Left side mirror with broken gear motor – pending
- Front/Right wheel with minor dent which I found out during wheel alignment & balancing before the drive back to Penang – Pending
- Front fog lights works on/off which does have an alert on the dash from time to time – pending
- Driver’s electric seats specifically the bolster motors were spoilt – repaired
- Most of the radio’s pixels are dead – tried DIY repair with those replacement strips but failed, the dead pixels were exactly how it was before the strip change.
- Many of the interior trims are either broken, peeled, decoloured, not fitting properly
- Arms, anti-roll bars, bushings, mountings, shocks/absorbers might need replacing soon if to have the car running better.
To be honest, it’s a really stupid decision to buy an E38 during this modern times but I’ve well prepared myself that it’s going to be a marathon rather than a sprint to get the car back to it’s former glory along with the time and money put into it which I’ll never get back ever. But personally, it’s all worth it as I’ve finally owned my dream car even though it’s not in the ‘dream’ condition.