— This article is available in French and Romanian language too —
Finally, today an international offline interview with one of the godfathers of E38 enthusiasts, the owner of the most complete and accurate information portal (e38registry.org), one of the real e38 passionate guys worldwide, the one and only – Valter Cid.
Valter, you are notorious among E38 enthusiasts worldwide (hopefully not like the other Notorious guy, but still) :)) due to your website and youtube channel e38registry.org. You own the most complete information database about our beloved car and you decided to share it with the rest of us.
Who’s Valter Cid, how did he end up loving E38’s, how did he build this great registry and why did he eventually made it public to all E38 family?
Hi Bogdan, thanks for the kind words. I’m a little over 30 years old, and was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I’ve lived in Vancouver, Canada, since 2006, and work as an IT consultant. I first saw the E38 in the 1995 Cleveland Auto Show, and as a young boy, I thought it was really cool that it had a telephone in the car… And it looked really comfortable and fast. Tomorrow Never Dies and The Transporter confirmed for my young self that it was a cool car, and I decided to own one when I was older and could afford it. The problem was that they were very rare and expensive in Brazil, so I figured it would be almost impossible.
However, after I moved to Canada in 2006, I figured I may be able to buy one… So in 2011, I bought a 1997 740iL (http://www.e38registry.org/valter-740il-sold/) that was in great cosmetic condition, but in terrible mechanical condition. It lasted a little over a year, before the timing chain guides blew up. So, I did what any responsible driver should do, and bought a 2000 740iL (http://www.e38registry.org/jose-740il/), from my father! Unfortunately, that only lasted until early 2014, before the timing guides also blew up and destroyed the engine. I now had gone through three E38s in two years, so I bought a nice, reliable Honda Civic in June 2014.
By September 2014, I already hated the Civic and was shopping for another E38. I found a cheap 20001 740i Sport (http://www.e38registry.org/99/) that needed, you guessed it, timing chain guides. However, it wasn’t very noisy, so I figured it may have been incorrectly diagnosed. I was right, and it only needed a camshaft sensor. I drove it for two reasonably trouble-free years, and performed all maintenance on it including timing chain guides. In February 2017, a very rare 1 of 1 Limonite Metallic on Lotus White Nappa Leather 1998 750iL Individual (http://www.e38registry.org/valter-750il-individual/) appeared for sale, and I decided I needed another E38, and almost immediately bought it. It was in very bad condition, but I’ve restored it to a condition that while not perfect, is really good. In the meantime, I also purchased a 1995 740i that had AC Schnitzer wheels (kept the wheels, sold the car), and a 2001 740i Sport for parts. Most recently, in July 2019, I purchased a very rare 2000 740iL Individual (http://www.e38registry.org/valter-740il-individual/), of which 3 were produced in this spec (Limited Edition Canada with Glacier Green paint), but only this one had survived. Currently own the 2001 740i Sport, 1998 750iL Individual, and 2000 740iL Individual.
Going back to the E38 Registry, I was looking for some production information on how many E38s were imported to Canada, and was surprised to learn there was almost no information about production data, colors, upholstery, options, and so on for the E38. I reached out to BMW, and they informed me that some stuff might be in the archive, but they had no plans to make it available to the public due to the amount of time it would take to digitize. I then found out about other owner registries, such as the one for the E31 8-series, and for the Skyline GT-R, and thought “hm, maybe I should make one for the E38”. And so I did; I asked a few more people for suggestions (mentioned here http://www.e38registry.org/links-resources/), and launched the page in June 2015.
It started out with a few cars, and some basic information, but it really started growing when I acquired all of the production data for the E38, including all BMW Individual Data. I was then able to generate detailed information about colors, upholstery, options, and trim, and the site grew exponentially from there. I believe it’s the de facto source for E38 data online.
As for making public, well, that was the intention from the beginning. If I wanted to make money with a Registry-type site, I would have done a Porsche or Ferrari Registry… I believe that information should be easily accessible, and that way, people can perhaps decide to save certain cars if they’re rare, or maybe even helps them value the car for insurance or for resale.
Build virtually your dream E38 from scrap, no matter the budget. What will be your choices? (engine, wheelbase, colours, materials, extras).
Tricky question. An Alpina B12 long wheelbase with all possible options from 2001 and Individual extras. Color would be very difficult to choose, but I would be happy with either Aqua Metallic, Byzanz Metallic, or maybe the Gold Orange Metallic in the Karl Lagerfeld car. Upholstery would be Alpina Lavalina leather, in Creamwhite or Lotus White, with piping in Atlantis, Arizona Sun, or Amethyst, depending on the exterior color. Carpets matching color of the piping. Wood trim in Platane, or maybe Arizona Sun. Alpina suspension, and perhaps a twin-turbo Dinan kit from the E32 750iL. Body kit would be AC Schnitzer; wheels would be either AC Schnitzer Type 3 19” for summer, and Racing Dynamic RD2 18”, three piece, for winter. The Alpinas, sadly, are too big for the roads here ☹……. Or a G12 M760Li with an E38 body hahahaha!!!
How much would it cost now, how much would it cost back then in the 90’s? estimate. How much you would pay now for having one like that?
At least 60-75 thousand Euro, as we would have to take an Alpina B12 and do a panel-off repaint, re-upholstery, etc. Brand new would be around 200 thousand Euro, maybe more. If I had the money to burn, I’d give 75k Euros no problem.
Based on your experience, what config would you recommend to:
1. a low budget E38
There’s no such thing, any E38 will be expensive. But probably a manual 725tds will be the cheapest, maybe 728i manual.
2. a daily driver
A 1995 740i M60 if you want something more or less reliable, or, if you’re in Europe, a 730d.
3. a classy exquisite small business manager
A clean, well-kept 750iL. Black on black if you want to be classic. Works for a big business.
How many E38’s did you own(ed)? How many of them did you bring back to life? What’s your feeling when one of the “soldiers” dies? (wrecked, totaled or parted out)
I personally don’t really mind when a “regular” one is destroyed, but it does bother me when a rare Individual is parted out, unless it’s completely unrepairable. After all, they are just cars, with over 300 thousand made. They will never be a Ferrari 250 GT :)))
What d’you think about diesels? Ever tried one? Is E38 that kind of car that needs more power? Is it about power, style, comfort or the statute it gives you?
I really like them, but have never driven one. There are two that I know in Canada; one 725tds and one 740d, none close to me. ☹
What would you take from any other car and put on the E38?
I’d grab the drivetrain from a Tesla and put it in an E38 if I could, or maybe from the 740e.
Your opinion on LS engine swap? Turbocharger? Supercharger? Is it worth?
LS swaps are a fine way to get more horsepower in a reliable manner; I find them fun. Same for turbos and superchargers. Anything is worth it, really, if the owner deems it so. Financially? Maybe if you’re in the US and have access to sites such as BringATrailer.
Is E38 that kind of car that needs more power? Is it about power, style, comfort or the statute it gives you?
The E38 can definitely use more power, as it is 20-25 years old. Back then, 326 HP from the V12 was a lot, but nowadays, not so much. But, at the end of the day, it’s an old car, and will never perform as well as a modern M760 or B7.
Pros and cons, smiles and tears, good and bad stories, where does the E38 fail and where it succeeds.
Pros: buying cost, power, relative mechanical simplicity, good amount of features, very safe car.
Cons: maintenance cost, some outdated technology, as time goes by some parts will be hard to find (DSC precharge pump from 1998 750s come to mind…)
Stories… we can do a video, it will get too long otherwise 🙂
If no E38 was ever made you would drive what car in this moment? Why?
Probably a 2006 Jaguar Super V8 Portfolio. It’s as classy as the E38, and a little more powerful, but does not drive as well.
Is the E38 the beginning or the end of an automobile era? Or just a transition model between classic and modern? Or a milestone and a monument? How do you explain the big success it still has 25 years after the release?
I believe it was the end of the ‘classic’ style of non-exotic cars that are lower to the ground, vs taller cars like the E65. It’s likely to be the only relevant 7 series, at maybe with the exception of the M760Li. I’d say the success is to do with the heavy film and TV presence the car has had over the years.
Is it Alpina a choice of horsepower, look or statute?
Horsepower and statute; I don’t think it looks different enough from the regular E38 ☺
North american vs. european popular choices. What are the main differences? Are the culture, economy, climate putting their marks on buyer’s choice?
Well, it’s hard to talk about Europe, but I do see a lot of 728i in England, lots of 730d in Eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, and many 735s/740s in Germany.
In Canada, there are very few E38s, but when you see an E38, it’s usually a 740iL. We only received around 250 750iL total, so those are rare.
In the US, the 740iL is very very very common. There were almost 80 thousand 740iL sold in the US… So it’s super common. However, due to timing chain guide failure and low value, most do not get repaired when an expensive maintenance bill comes along, or if it gets into an accident, it’s written off.
Do you ever plan to visit worldwide E38 communities? Would you take Romania into consideration for an E38 related trip?
Absolutely, it’s one of my plans if I can justify it financially. I’d love to go to other countries and see cool E38s ☺
I’d love to go to Romania… Maybe someone can get a bunch of E38s together in the basement of the People’s Palace? hahaha
Any yet non public infos about our beloved car that you still want to share? Is passion fading out over years ? What’s your motivation to continue? Should taxes control what and how we drive ? Maybe you didn’t know but especially in eastern Europe taxes cut the fun of driving big engines (over 3.0 Liter).
Nothing really; everything I know is public, pretty much. There is much to be published, but I don’t plan on holding any information back. My passion waxes and wanes, but I plan on always having an E38. It may be only a weekend car, but I thoroughly enjoy driving it; it’s also a great conversation piece. My main motivation is that it’s a nice car that’s extremely affordable to maintain vs buying a newer car. It’s also mechanically simple and easy to understand. Taxes are a necessity to build infrastructure, unfortunately. When it becomes too expensive to drive my V12, I’ll make a table out of the engine and put an electric drivetrain in it ☺
Is the E38 “The One”? Could it become one of the next most wanted oldtimers?
Well, it’s “The One” for big german sedans. The W140 also comes close. If current trends maintain themselves, it will be desirable. Probably not like an E30 M3 or an E39 M5, but it will be very desirable. To be honest, the E31/E38/E39/E46 will be the most desirable oldtimer BMWs 10 years from now.