1983 BMW E23 733i 5-speed: Teutonic Sports Barge

Once upon a time the term “sports sedan” referred to a four-door automobile whose driving characteristics engaged the driver in the actual act of driving through steering feedback, a taut suspension, and (gasp!) a manual transmission whereby the driver actually went through the process of selecting the appropriate cog and engaging it through a shifter and a clever foot pedal that released the gears. It is arguable whether BMW invented the concept of the sports sedan, but they worked hard through the late 1960s and te 1970s to hone it. By the time this car made the scene in 1983, BMW was at the top of the sports sedan heap. Find it here on eBay in Salem, New Hampshire with a starting bid of $200.


The 1983 E23 7-series represents the mildly freshened version of Paul Bracq’s original design which bore a steeper ship’s prow front end more reminiscent of the contemporary E24 6-series. Still, the 7-series was Germany’s sporting luxury alter ego to Mercedes’ S-class in both W116 and W126 forms. Where the Mercs were about being the best at conveying passengers comfortably and efficiently, the BMWs were about enjoying the driving aspect.

Although the majority of E23s sold in the U.S. came with automatic gearboxes, they made the smooth-shifting 5-speeds – like in this car – available as an option for those who enjoyed rowing their own. Hard to come by now, the sticks are the best driving experience in an E23. I can say that because I had a stick 1984 733i that reminded me of all that was good about my old E3 2800s and Bavarias but with the creature comforts that the 1980s brought like air conditioning, power locks and windows, and sunroof. Interestingly, the 733i came with essentially the same M30 inline-6 that was first introduced in the E3, and remained in production well into the 1990s. In this iteration it’s good for just aver 180hp and 0-60 right around 8 seconds.

This car comes in one of my favorite combinations: Alpine white with Cardinal leather interior. 1970s and 1980s vintage BMWs with Cardinal interiors were actually an attractive two-tone red with black trim. An all-red interior would look something like a whorehouse or a period Cadillac Fleetwood, whereas this combination just looks, well, German. It also goes nicely with the white exterior finish which is tied-together by a cardinal-colored pinstripe. Very period. The period-correct E21 3-series non-power Recaro sport seats are a fantastic addition to the interior and were an option on Euro 7-series. The seller reports that the original front seats – in excellent condition – convey.

This car’s 17 inch wheels, on the other hand, are far more modern in appearance. I have no doubts that they enhance road feel and possibly handling, but to me anything bigger than 16 inches on an E23 is overkill. Frankly I like 15s, and there are lots of options in the BMW wheel catalog that suit the car much better and with a little less “bling”. For reference, have a look at the BMW catalog here at AlloyWheelsDirect in the UK. But that’s just me.

The seller of this car reports that he has spent over $18,000 making it what it is today, and looking at the extreme detail provided on the work that has gone into it, it isn’t hard to see how that may be possible. To spend all that money and then turn around to sell it is a questionable move, but ultimately it will be up to the market to determine what it is actually worth. See this detailed album of photos here on Photobucket to get a closer look at all those mods. For someone looking for room for four wrapped in a reliable classic sports sedan with a real manual transmission there are few alternatives to the original 7-series. Fly in, drive home, and enjoy the ride!

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