What exactly makes a US-Market 740iL a Highline? And why did some come from BMW Individual?

I see this question popping up a lot. So much that I decided to write a post about it.

The E38 Highline package was a special Exterior Color + Interior Upholstery package offered in select markets. While Europe had four variants (Anthrazit, Carbon, Nachtblau, and Scarabäus), the United States got two (Midnight Blue, and Orinocco [Green]).

It was a no-cost option in the 750iL, and a $3,000 package in the 740iL:

The package was available for the 2000 and 2001 model years, and is characterized by Midnight Blue or Orinoco Green exterior paint:

The seats were either Leather Nappa Ecru with English Green piping, or Leather Nappa Ecru with Marine Blue piping; seat backs, door armrest handles, and inserts were in Ecru, and dashboard, door cards, carpet and center console were either Green or Blue:

The color scheme was indentical among 750s and 740s.

However, the materials for the door cards, dashboard, center console, and seat backs varied according to the model, and this is where the confusion starts. To understand that, we have to first understand BMW Upholstery codes.

This code usually has two parts. Let’s take the Black Montana Leather codes for non-V12 (N6SW) and V12 (N8SW) E38s, for example.

N6/N8 indicates stitching and seam patterns, and it also indicates the materials of those parts mentioned above.

N6 indicates that the door cards, dashboard, and center console are made of plastic/vinyl. N8, instead, indicates that those parts are made of leather or leathrette.

There are other codes, such as N9/P1/P4/P5, but if you’re curious about them, check the Upholstery section. The second part indicates the color; in this case, SW indicates Schwarz (black).

Going back to the Highline, L7EE is Leather Nappa Ecru with English Green Piping, and L7EC is Leather Nappa Ecru with Marine Blue Piping.

These codes, however, were used first in the 750iL. Additionally, L7 is the code for “Extended Nappa Leather”, which would include, at a minimum, a leather center console. In the case of L7EE and L7EC, however, it indicated that it had said upholstery, plus the aforementioned leather/leatherette bits available in the V12 models.

Therefore, since the 740iL does not include those extra leather bits by default, the early 740iL Highlines produced from May 1999 to July 1999 had to be processed through BMW Individual, rather than be assigned a code that could cause confusion in the assembly line:

Here’s the Individual Data, for example, of an early 740iL Highline:

 Sign "BMW individual"
 Special Series

 E38 740iLA US High Line
 analog Polstercode L7EE oder L7EC, jedoch Dachhimmel in grau !!
 0490 Color

 Paintwork "orinoco-metallic" (code 406)
 Z1XX Upholstery

 Upholstery leather nappa ecru including
 rear panel of front seat backs (nb. 2 695 113)
 Following items are in leather Nappa ecru (nb. 2 695 113)
 Door panel inserts (with handle)
 Quilting yarn in ecru (7 000 794), code 0862 F.
 Sewing thread ecru (7 000 797), code 0862 F.
 Leather piping in Nappa englishgreen (8 174 063)
 arrangement as standard piping
 Seam of front and rear seats according to standard option
 leather Nappa (cross-seam)
 Plastic parts of seats in englishgreen
 Remainder of spec. as standard leather Montana englishgreen
 (code N6EG)

However, BMW appears to have sorted out that confusion internally, and late 2000 MY 740iL Highlines were produced with the L7EE/L7EC upholstery codes, starting in November 1999, and lasting until the end of the production run. Note, however, that they still had the regular 740 vinyl door cards, center console, and dashboard pieces.