Timm's Case Study - E38 - Is My 740i A Sport Model?

Date of manufacture   1996 - 2001
Mileage   n/a
Model 740i / 740i Sport
Engine M62

How to determine if a 740i is a Sport model

Ebay is full of 'Sports' E38's but they are rarely the real thing. The true Sports models have two items that define the marque, a high stall-speed torque-converter and a lower-ratio differential (3.15 as opposed to 2.93), the correct option number for this is S204A. These two items are extremely rarely retro-fitted whereas the M-Parallel wheels and M steering wheel are quite often stuck on standard models. The Sport 740i is 0.1 second faster to 62MPH than the standard 740i but feels a lot quicker. The Sports models had a basic price 3,900 higher than the standard model.

Although this car has 18" M-Parallels, M-Steering wheel, body-coloured skirts, is de-chromed and has S-EDC the lack of an Anthracite headlining and contour seats means this is not a Sports model

The true Sports models have a few identifying features:

M-Parallel 18" Alloys
Shadowline / Bodycolour exterior
M Steering wheel
Anthracite headlining
S-EDC or Alpina Sports Suspension (see options)
Contour/Sports seats

The correct torque-converter and differential are difficult to check, the only definite method is to contact BMW Customer Services to obtain the original specification. However, the presence of an anthracite (black) headlining is a good visual clue as these are extremely difficult to retrofit. There are many E38's that have most of the other options that are not Sports models. Recently I looked into a method for discerning between a 740i and a 740i Sport, the following method will ensure, at least, that the correct final-drive unit is fitted:

Use OBC hidden function 8 to display KPH; set cruise to 123KPH on a level road
(the speedo will show 80MPH/128KPH as it over-reads by 4%)

Use OBC hidden function 7/2 to show RPM

A non-Sport model will show 2305 - 2310 RPM
A Sport model will show 2475 - 2480 RPM

Alternatively, without using any hidden functions:

Set the cruise so that the speedometer shows exactly 80MPH when in 5th gear. The instruments will look like this: