Spannerhead Dot

Resigned to a Slushbox

September 19, 2011 by Matt

BMW E38 740i Sport 7-series Imola Red M-Pars

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of front-wheel-drive. What’s also well-known to any of my car friends is that I reserve an almost equal amount of animosity toward the automatic transmission—I’m a full-on stickshift proselytizer. I just don’t think there’s any place for the slushbox, even in family vehicles like minivans. Travel to Europe and rent a larger non-luxury car, and chances are it’ll be equipped with a stickshift. If Europeans seem to recognize the value of the added car control a manual provides, as well as the greater reliability and cheaper repair cost, why can’t we Americans? Oh—that’s right; we’re lazy slugs. Forgot.

All that said, there are a handful of automatic-equipped cars I would consider acquiring for daily driver use. Topping the list is the car shown above, the one and only BMW with a slushbox I’m a fan of: The ’99-’01 740i Sport. Note that it’s a very specific example of the type: A facelifted ’99-’01, non-L short-wheelbase car with staggered 18″ M-Parallel wheels and the Sport option package (which included uprated suspension, a higher diff ratio and the wheels, among other things). It’s the sportiest, and arguably the best-looking 7-series ever made, a car many have lauded as a prime example of a big car that “drives small,” an elegant yet athletic linebacker of a car, immensely capable.

Finally, I should be clear about my preferences with respect to automatic transmissions: There are other cars I’d buy with a slushbox installed, but a manual swap would always be in the long-term plans. The E38 740i Sport, on the other hand, I’d happily drive without any scheme to switch out the transmission. And just in case I decided to change my mind, the 6-speed from the 540i fits. I do like to hedge my bets, after all.

Filed under: BMW


  1. Mike B says:

    Imola red/black 2001 E38 740iS FTW! Sometimes I wish I saved more and got one of this instead of my 540iA. But then I have realized how much I have put into the 540, and a 740 would be worse.

    • Matt says:

      Very true. Add OBD2 electronics on top of the additional 7-series electronics, and the M62TU’s VANOS, and you have a recipe for “fun.” :)

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