Munich, Germany - When BMW unveiled the first-generation 7 Series in 1977, it was something of a departure for the Blue Propeller badge, which had made its name building sporty, upmarket coupés and compact sedans.
This was a big, luxurious executive express, and it must have come as a wake-up call for Mercedes-Benz in particular. Four decades and six generations later, the 7 Series is still a big, luxurious executive express - it’s a clear statement of intent on the maker’s part that there has never been an M7 - but it has also become a showcase for the latest technologies - both mechanical and electronic.
BMW’s first and, so far, only car powered by a hydrogen-fuelled combustion engine was a 7 Series, as was its first model with remote parking. The Seven was the first to get most of the driver aids and convenience features BMW customers now take for granted on smaller models.
It’s almost like a preview - if you want to know what gizmotronics you’re likely to find in the next-generation 3 and 5 Series, check out the current 760 flagship.
But now, says BMW, it’s time to celebrate 40 years of the 7 Series - and the way to do that, as usual, is with a limited-edition commemorative model: the 7 Series Edition 40 Jahre, which will be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in October.
And limited it will certainly be: BMW will build no more than 200, each of them specially badged and numbered, and each one tailored to individual customer specifications, in either standard or long-wheelbase format and with your choice of any of the six, eight or 12-cylinder engines offered in regular 7 Series models - as well as all-wheel drive and plug-in hybrid variants.
You can order one in any colour you want, but there are two special finishes available that will not be offered on other BMW models. Frozen Silver metallic has a silk-matte sheen, almost like the finish you get with a wrap - only smoother! - while Petrol Mica is a traditional BMW blue, but with sparkling iridescent effects to give it extra shine and depth.
Each is offered in conjunction with the M Aerodynamics Package, including a high-gloss shadow line and special 20 inch alloy rims in a V-spoke design - and, of course, a special-edition logo on the B pillars and door sills.
The interior is trimmed in soft merino leather, in either off-white and brown or off-white and black, with hand-woven off-white piping and an alcantara synthetic suede head liner in off-white. Multi-adjustable comfort seats are standard front and rear.
The interior trim strips are available in either a black piano lacquer finish or in straight-grained eucalyptus veneer with a high-gloss finish; there are more Edition 40 Jahre logos on the passenger’s side of the dashboard, as well on the special off-white ‘comfort cushions’ and the off-white floor mats with edge binding in brown or black to match the rest of the trim.
BMW SA has confirmed that just five of the 200 examples will be made available to customers in South Africa, in all-wheel drive, long-wheebase M760Li format only, with pricing starting at R3 085 900.