One of the World’s Satisfying Experiences
Having written of the BMW 633CSi as recently as last August, when I described this Bavarian motor car as near to perfection, having now to describe the BMW 733i is indeed dealing in refined gold. In discussing the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow 2 in the October issue of Motor Sport I said that I refused to say whether or not I thought it the finest car in the World, remarking that either you think so or you buy a Mercedes or a moped meaning that you do not think so or are not the kind of person who is concerned with luxury cars anyway. With this BMW 733i I feel the Same I refuse to rate it against other cars of like class. All I can say is that, had I £12,000 to spend on personal transport I could be well satisfied with this splendid production irons Munich.
The BMW 733i retains the BMW six-cylinder overhead-camshaft, just-over square (89 x 86 mm) engine, when others are playing with fives and eights. It is employed for this model in Bosch L-jetronic fuel-injection form, giving 197 DIN-b.h.p. at 5,500 r.p.m. and a torque of 206 lb./ft. at 4,259 r.p.m., from 3.2-litres and on a compression ratio of 9.0 to 1. This is a superbly smooth and docile power plant, normally running well within its rev, limit of 6,400 r.p.m. but instantly ready to produce very impressive acceleration whets extended 0-60 m.p.h. in under nine seconds and a ss 1/4-mile in 16.7 sec. The big four-door saloon is equipped with all the creature comforts and is handsome in the extreme, without being in the slightest degree ostentatious. If the manual gearbox is chosen, you have a silky gear shift, which becomes “notchy” if hurried, using a man-sized knob to move the short central lever, which is spring-loaded towards top and 3rd, which has a somewhat long travel. Reverse, over beyond 1st, engages as easily as do the four forward gears. The brakes on this BMW have 11 in.-dia. discs all round with hydraulic servo assistance, and they make a fine contribution to safety, although the pads are prone to the build-up of black dust on the wheel-rims. The pedal action is light but the hand-brake works on Separate rear-wheel drums and it seemed inadvisable to employ it other than as a parking brake. The car also rolls a few feet after the hand-brake has been applied.
Driving the big BMW (big is relative the wheelbase is 9 ft. 2 in., overall length t 5 ft. 11.3 in.) out through the press of London traffic to the M40, I felt confidence in it from the first engagement of the clutch, an attribute of all BMWs. The ZF power-steering, although using the recirculating-ball system, is truly excellent, the 15 1/4 in.-dia. wheel nice to handle. It is geared rather too low for power operation, at just over 3 1/2 turns, lock-to-lock, and on later experience, round fast bends, there is the faintest trace of understeer. Castor return is as one would wish. The suspension, which incorporates the new radius-arms allied to MacPherson struts at the front, and trailing-arm i.r.s., gives a comfortable ride, but there is harshness over bad surfaces and a tendency for mild transverse-wallowing to sometimes develop. The suspension, in fact, is the most disappointing aspect of the car. When all or most of the power is turned on there would be good reason for having a limited-slip differential but the 205/70 VR14 Michelin XDX on the test car largely off-set this need.
While this is a generally-quiet car, when cruising along the Mao there was much more noise, from the radial-ply tyres, then I had expected, and slight wind-intrusion. Fuel consumption is hardly a factor to trouble the owner of a BMW 733i and I did not make a detailed check. Suffice it to say that in rather quicker motoring than that on which a Silver Shadow II returned 15 m.p.g. this BMW was giving around 19 1/2 m.p.g., which is as one would expect of a fuel-injection 3.2-litre compared to a carburetted 6.7-litre engine. The BMW has a flush-fitting flap over the is/s fuel filler-cap, which is locked by the door-key, but otherwise no complications in that area; a tank-capacity of 18.7-gallons gives a reasonable range, guarded by a fuel-gauge the steadiness of which was a greater treat after the Rover 3500’s ridiculously vague readings, and low fuel level further indicated by a bright warning light.
The accelerative capabilities of this luxury BMW come into their own, for instance, after you have been cruising down the M4o, have negotiated the Oxford ring-road towards Cheltenham, and then come to that frustrating piece of 60 m.p.h. going before it opens out into the new much-appreciated dual-carriageway that by-passes the blanket-making town of Witney.
This ends at a rather dangerous roundabout, and I was glad to be in the BMW on the following, winding stretch to Burford, where I turned off for Stow, because there are very few places here where passing is safe unless a car can stride swiftly from 40 to 60 m.p.h., which this BMW does in 5.7 sec. if you slip into 3rd gear and, in not much more than four seconds in 2nd gear. The indirect gears are so quiet, by the way, that at first I found I was in 3rd gear when the 2.45 to 1 top speed would have sufficed and this gives a 70 m.p.h. cruising pace equal to a mere 3,400 r.p.m. The kind of pick-up just referred to is equally useful along the “difficult” road from Burford to Stow, especially if there are crawling vehicles to overtake after crossing the picturesque but lights-controlled bridge the former village, which the BMW could do safely, even up the steep hill, mostly “blind”, after the left and right-hand turn out of Burford.
To describe all the niceties and equipment of this excellent BMW might be tedious. May I just say that it has all those found in the 633CSi and some of its own? The interior is very nicely appointed, with an attractive “ridged” velour trim on the doors, a black facia, not “handed” but with the hooded instruments-binnacle angled towards the driver, and dark and discreet decor below the vinyl door cappings. The 7-services test panel is on the driver’s right, the instruments, with their white needles, are all easy to read, there are the typically-BMW rotary heater and ventilatory controls, cold-and-hot settings indicated by discreet coloured lights when the fan is in use, a good-sized (Rolleiflex-accommodating), lockable drop-well for the front passenger, good stowage-wells in the front doors and covered ash-trays in the back ones, and headrestraints to all seats. The rear compartment has its own, adjustable heater-cool-air vents and a central cigar-lighter.
The electric windows can be operated without the ignition-key if the driver’s door is opened, there is central door-locking (which is a convenience all good cars should possess), the back-seats’ central arm-rest incorporates a first-aid kit, the fitted BMW tool-kit in the big boot is more comprehensive than ever, and there is an admirable electrically-operated sun-roof with full or ventilatory settings I marvel at the ingenuity in rendering this rain-proof but rain-proof it certainly is. The mileometer reads to six places, the m.p.h./k.p.h. speedometer reads to 145 m.p.h., the four horn pushes are on the steering-wheel spokes, there is high-grade cloth upholstery and fitted carpets, and the driving seat adjusts, by means of levers, for tilt as well as for squab-angle and tore-and-aft placing. If the steering column had not been adjustable I would have thought the latter seat movement on the mean side. Interior temperature can be set to any one of ten positions, the heater fan has six settings. I thought the cool-air feed still rather poor, but perhaps I did not “drive” the system effectively. Parking lights and front and rear fog lamps are provided, the lamps-switches and facia-lighting dimmer being rather tucked away, but accessible, on the facia, obscured by the steering-wheel pod. A Varta battery looks after the many electrical services. The sensibly-contrived equipment is one of’ the factors which make this 733i BMW such a thoroughly satisfying motor-car. It is so pleasant to drive and so nice to occupy, whether as a passenger or the lucky driver. But, as on my one time Editorial 520i, the screen-wiper blades tended to “graunch”. The Philips radio/cassette-player has an automatic aerial; its knobs came off as I tried to set it to give me the news.
If the opportunity presents itself’, top speed is nearly too m.p.h. in third gear, reached in 28 seconds, and the maximum speed is 122 m.p.h. Its ride and quietness do not match those of a Rolls-Royce, but it has most of the amenities, including a delay-action on the courtesy lights, an electrically-adjustable external driving-mirror that really is a useful fitting, and the specification includes a laminated windscreen, although I don’t think the test-car had this, as a Compact Mk.I1 emergency screen was seen to be in the boot. The latter had an unobstructed floor and vast carrying capacity, although luggage has to be lifted into it and the movable button makes the key-action slightly imprecise; if the big silencer and twin-tail pipes break the symmetry of the back-view, at least they are set high-up, to give good ground-clearance. The vizors are recessed in the roof, once the mark of a Jaguar or a Rover, ill remember correctly, and the internal door handles are plated and pull-out, instead of being beneath the “pulls”, where they might be instantly grabbed in an emergency. Otherwise, it is impossible not to be captivated by this good-handling, and very fast BMW – W.B.