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At this morning’s launch of the new G11/G12 BMW 7 Series, BMW Malaysia took the opportunity to line-up all of the model’s predecessors for a photo opportunity. Lighting at the display wasn’t at its best for photos (nor was I any good behind a camera), but we couldn’t miss out on the chance to catch all six generations of the 7er in one outing.

With the new, sixth-gen model displayed separately, here are the first five generations of the 7er – beginning from the original E23 from 1977, to the fifth-gen F01/F02 model which first appeared in 2008.

What started off as just a large BMW sedan, the first-ever 7 Series was born in 1977. Its production run spanned a respectable 10 years before it was succeeded by the E32 in 1986. The second-gen notably offered a fax machine, an integrated telephone and even a wine cooler as optional equipment – imagine that, in 1986. The E32 is also known to be the first vehicle that featured a 12-cylinder engine in the post-war era.

The third-gen E38 7 Series cleared a path for itself by being the first to emphasise rear-seat luxuries as much as driving dynamics. Satellite navigation and an onboard television were included as optionally available items, but not forgetting an Alpina sports suspension and Dynamic Stability Control too. The E38 also famously starred in movies like The Transporter and James Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies.

And then came the Bangle-era 7er, the E65. Popularly known for its “Bangle Butt,” the fourth-gen 7 Series’ design faced tough criticism. The LA Times even included the model in its list of “50 Worst Cars of All Time.” Even still, it was one of the most technologically advanced BMW vehicles of its time, introducing items such as Active Roll Stabilisation, a self-levelling air suspension, the world’s first application of electronic adaptive headlights and more.

The F01/F02 BMW 7 Series arrived in 2008, and needless to say, design critics were a lot easier on the fifth-gen model. The list of “firsts” for this 7er included having its entire line-up powered by turbocharged engines (bar minority markets’ availability of N/A engines, like our 730Li), having an eight-speed auto transmission and being the first 7er to feature an electric motor (ActiveHybrid7).

The F01/F02 was also the first BMW model to feature the “F” designation in its codename, and now, the sixth-gen model repeats this honour by being the first model to feature the “G” designation. Which leaves us at today, where we find ourselves at the launch of the G11/G12 BMW 7 Series. And just in case you’ve missed it, here’s everything you need to know about the latest 7er in Malaysia.


GALLERY: E23 BMW 7 Series


GALLERY: E32 BMW 7 Series

GALLERY: E38 BMW 7 Series

GALLERY: E65 BMW 7 Series

GALLERY: F01/F02 BMW 7 Series