Technically, I’m a ’90s kid. I was born in the back end of 1989, so by the time I was old enough to do literally anything, it was in the 1990s. So maybe that’s why cars from the ’90s have always resonated with me. Admittedly, I wasn’t able to drive in the ’90s but it might just be the style that I grew up seeing that attracts me to cars from the decade of Zubaz pants, Tamagotchis and Ace Ventura. Coincidentally, BMW made a ton of great cars in that same decade.
In the 1990s, BMW had the the E36 M3, E39 M5 and the first-ever Z3, to name a few. It also did some amazing things, such as develop the McLaren F1’s magnificent naturally-aspirated V12 and create the world’s first BMW M8, even if the latter never made production. So which was the best BMW from the 1990s?
This can actually be a bit tricky. Are the E30 M3 and E34 M5 allowed to be in this debate if they were both actually developed in the ’80s? They were both sold in the ’90s at some point but were designed and launched in the decade prior. I’m not so sure they should be included. Do you count the aforementioned McLaren, because it was powered by BMW, or the M8, because it was technically built but never for sale?
Either way, I think the answer — for me at least — is the E38 BMW 7 Series. I’m a big E36 fan — which is entirely irrational because nothing on Earth has caused me more anger than an E36 3 Series — but I think the E38 7 Series is the best Bimmer from the ’90s.
Not only is it an awesome car in its own right but, at the time, it was the pinnacle of BMW’s build quality and luxury. But it also handled incredibly well and was the star of two blockbuster movies — Tomorrow Never Dies (James Bond) and The Transporter. It’s also largely considered to be the best 7 Series of all time. When it comes to the best generation of any other ‘Series BMW, there seems to be more debate than with the 7 Series.
I have to admit, I was very tempted to choose the E39 BMW M5, which debuted in 1999, as it’s such an incredible car. However, I felt that the E38 BMW 7 Series was a bit more car for more people. It was more accessible of a car in its day than the E39 M5. And if we’re counting legacy, there were M5s after the E39 that a lot of fans thing are better. Few enthusiasts feel that any 7 Series, before or after the E38 generation, is better. Plus, E39 BMW M5s are incredibly expensive at the moment and nice E38 7ers can be had for less than $5,000 now, if you looks carefully.
So while the Bavarians had some great cars in the ’90s, I think the E38 BMW 7 Series tops them all.